Wednesday, November 1, 2017

bears and mountains

Three things:
1. Sewing: At last I've done it - made something from a Japanese sewing book. It's dress "T" from Girls style book by Yoshiko Tsukiori. A summer dress in a cotton print for my granddaughter. It's a simple pattern. The only fussy bit was the bias binding around the armholes and neck that I stitched by hand. 

2. Yoga: I've been practicing yoga at home for a year now averaging one class a week. I'm not consistent. I have bursts of regular practice and then weeks with none but I benefit from my practice and always feel great afterwards. I keep a yoga diary - a small notebook where I jot down my thoughts about the poses or my mood or quotes from the teacher (Melissa West) that I find inspiring or helpful. I'd recommend the diary even if, like me, you're not really a diary kind of person.

3. Dancing: of the extraordinary variety by the tiny (5mm) peacock spider and the science behind it, if you're interested.

No ordinary Sheila - inspiring film about the life of New Zealand natural historian, writer and illustrator Sheila Natusch. The pages above are from her book Wild fare for wilderness foragers (1979). She was a true adventurer and free spirit. There is a lovely interview with her on Radio New Zealand.

Maudie starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke about popular Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis. Brought me to tears.

Reading: Autumn by Ali Smith. Short listed for this year's Man Booker Prize. It's about Elisabeth, a 32-year-old lecturer in art history and Daniel Gluck, 101-years-old and dying in an assisted care facility. He was her neighbour and confidant when she was a child. He introduced her to “arty art” and taught her to always be reading a book. The story travels between the past and present and is, apparently, an exploration of how we experience time. I found much of this book really clever and amusing but other bits mystifying.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Another bundle of baby things ready to deliver to Little Sprouts. I think I've already posted about most of the makes but what's new is the grey striped merino baby wrap like this one and the pink singlet. The singlet is knitted in the round - I used a baby merino yarn - and has a button opening on one shoulder. It's a free pattern from Drops Design available here and on Ravelry.

Other things


I'm pretty keen on Japanese sewing books and own quite a few even though I have never made a single thing from any of them. I recently discovered Easy cute straight sewing by Yoshiko Tsukiori. It has 27 designs for dresses, jackets, pants, tops etc but comes without printed patterns as the construction of all the garments is based on straight lines (mainly rectangles) so you simply follow the dimensions and draft your own. Unfortunately it seems to be available only in Japanese. The diagrams are sufficiently detailed so that you could probably work from them without the text. However I have found a useful free, printable PDF list of common sewing terms translated from Japanese into English here on the Japanese Sewing Books website - which also has a cute Instagram feed @japanesesewingbooks and reviews (with flip-through videos) of many, many Japanese sewing books. I'm not sure if I have the confidence but I'd like to think I could wear some of the very oversized and loose fitting garments from this book.

Monday, October 9, 2017


We have two ornamental cherry trees in the front garden that look amazing - and attract dozens of bees - for the short time that they are in full bloom. Which is now. So we celebrated hanami in the rain yesterday with a small family gathering. Hanami (flower viewing) is a Japanese custom to enjoy the transient beauty of flowers and is usually celebrated with a picnic beneath blossoming cherry trees. Unfortunately we had to have our "picnic" indoors.

And the top for quilt #4 is done. It's a variation on this one. I'm going to focus on sewing for a bit. I've had sore hands that seem to improve if I don't do much for a while. Probably an RSI thing but so frustrating. It seems that crochet in particular and knitting are bad for me.

Some good news is that a local supermarket chain is going to stop supplying plastic carry bags by the end of 2018. I hope this will just be the start and that other supermarkets will follow and that eventually all plastic bags will be banned.

Reading: My father's wake by Kevin Toolis. This is part biography and part thinking about death and dying. The author, who is Irish, believes the wake embraces death as a normal part of living. Whereas the Anglo-Saxon world lives in denial of it. Not as gloomy as it might sound.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Some more hankies - like these ones. I've probably got enough now but it's a little bit of happiness to take a handmade hankie out of my pocket. The two outer ones are re-purposed cotton shirts that didn't make the cut (or did?) in a recent wardrobe declutter.

And a balloon in the bathroom. It's a portrait drawn by my granddaughter of my son simultaneously smiling and frowning.

The colours of this post remind me of a joke my father used to like to tell. What's black and white and red (read) all over? Answer: a newspaper.
And a childhood favourite of my son: What's red and invisible? Answer: No tomatoes!

Reading: This house of grief by Helen Garner. This is the harrowing true story of the trial of a man who drove his car into a dam killing his three young children. It's heartbreaking to read in parts but written in such a way that I almost feel like I'm on the jury. Was it a deliberate act or an accident?

Listening/watching: Podcast Wardrobe crisis with Clare Press episode Disentangling style from fashion with Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum from StyleLikeU. This is truly amazing. Everything I've felt about clothing and the fashion industry is so clearly articulated. Their What's underneath project on YouTube is so worth watching - short video interviews of (mostly) women talking about self image.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

birds and apples

A visit to the zoo this week followed by a walk through a local park to see the birds. This particular park has a lake and is always full of birds and, at this time of year, you can see cygnets, goslings and coot chicks.

And a play mat for Little Sprouts made from some of these fabrics and a surplus-to-needs quilted mattress protector as wadding. To make: cut the backing, top and wadding to size and make a quilt sandwich. But, instead of quilting, simply sew the layers together all around the edge, curve the corners and attach double fold bias binding. No need to quilt as the mattress protector is already quilted. Tutorial here to make a mat without binding.

Watching: Three (!) movies this week: 
Love is strange (2014) starring John Lithgow as Ben and Alfred Molina as George - an ageing gay couple who have been together for decades but after George is fired from his teaching job they are forced to stay with friends separately while they sell their apartment and look for cheaper housing.

Leviathan (2014) Set in a bleak coastal town on the Barents Sea, Kolya decides to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house and land will be seized. A powerful slow burner that I've been thinking about all day.

Frances Ha (2012) Quirky movie about a dancer trying to make it in New York City. One of my all time favourite films.

Drinking: Three ginger tea by Pukka. It's "a warming swirl of organic ginger, galangal and golden tumeric". Infuse for at least 10 minutes - spicy and delicious.

Friday, September 15, 2017

marbles and monkeys

Marble painting - drop a marble into paint, roll it around on a piece of paper on a tray and - ta-dah! - art. We had hours of fun with this book, Recipes for play: fun ideas for small hands and big imaginations written by New Zealander Rachel Sumner. Loads of simple ideas for pre-schoolers.

Sock monkeys - done. Pattern for cutting layout here. Variations - including the cute folded ears - alternative layout and detailed construction method with photos here. I'm especially fond of the plain grey one which I thought might turn out to be a bit boring.

Reading: The stranger in the woods by Michael Finkel. True story of Christopher Knight who disappeared to live alone in the woods for twenty-seven years.

Watching: The witness - documentary about Kitty Genovese who in 1964 was stabbed to death on a New York City street while, apparently, thirty-eight people witnessed her murder and did nothing.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


The early Spring weather has had me in the garden so I haven't been spending a lot of time making things lately. Instead I've been trying to lure bees into the garden by planting herbs - purple basil, mint, lemon grass, thyme and oregano - and a few flowers among the veges. We've also planted an avocado, a passion fruit vine and a bay tree. I can't wait to try drying our own bay leaves. Plus, even in a small garden, there's always lots of work to do after winter.

I did find time though to go to Fabric-a-brac last Saturday. I shopped without intent which was joyous.

Everyone in the house is away for most of this week. I always look forward to being home alone and imagine myself living a zen life - getting up early, doing yoga daily, taking long walks and eating raw foods but the reality is that I eat apple crumble for dinner, stay up late watching re-runs of Inspector Morse and sleep in. This time though I am without a plan. Today was taken up with a haircut for me, an emergency trip to the vet for the cat and a mad flurry of window cleaning - by me, of course.

Reading: The photo and recipe for the beautiful cured eggs coloured with beetroot and saffron is in Simple fare - spring, summer: guide to everyday cooking and eating by Karen Mordechai. This is a stunning cookbook with so many interesting but simple recipes that I'd love to try.