Sunday, October 31, 2010

In which I am inspired by a wedding's aesthetic

Yesterday hubster and I attended a wedding at the Hungerford Hill winery in the Hunter Valley. It was a beautiful location and has definitely whetted my appetite to see more of the Hunter. But what particularly impressed me was the design aesthetic of the wedding. Nature and natural things were a theme from the invitations right on through. The couple bought two fruit trees as symbols of the occasion and the bouquets included roses, gumnuts and herbs. The guest register was actually a large print of a bare tree - you added a thumbprint in green ink to create leaves. The cake was actually cheese (to see what I mean look here!) And the bonboniere were very clever - little pots of jam or mustard that doubled as placenames and thankyou cards. We forgot our cameras so all we had were our iphones - but here's a photo of the ceremony plus the delightful bonboniere. Chanel's dress was gorgeous, such beautiful floaty material.


A quick update on the knitting. I have been working on two lace projects: Oiseau de Feu (Ravelry link, non-Ravelry example) and Brandywine Shawl. At this stage they are both intended for me! The photos below don't look like much: neither is blocked and my little digital camera has significant issues with that vibrant red. I shall have to read up on photographing red projects before I model the final product!

Oiseau de Feu

Raisin Brandywine
Brandywine Shawl

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In which I sew

Spring is definitely here, and summer is on its way. Cue thunderstorms, cicadas, and sitting on the balcony of a weekend with a cup of tea (obviously not at the same time as the thunderstorm!)

A week or two ago in a burst of spring-related energy I actually pulled out the sewing machine and sewed a couple of simple bags. Now it's important to understand that I generally do not enjoy sewing. I love the concept of it, of turning gorgeous fabric into something both practical and beautiful. But the's just not for me. I hate being jabbed by pins, I hate bending over cutting out the pattern or hand sewing a hem. It's painful (ask my fingers and back). There's also the fear of screwing up the measurements as you cut, or having to rip out a wrongly executed seam. So on the whole I need to be highly motivated to actually sew something. But a couple of small bags are easy enough to execute in an afternoon.

Hubster requested a dice bag (he has taken up Dungeons and Dragons) so that was first on the agenda. He turned up his nose at all my fat quarters and settled on a sturdy upholstery fabric intended to be a floor cushion some day. This turned out to to be something of a mistake as the bag has a drawstring top which doesn't really close properly due to the thickness of the gathered fabric. But hubster was happy enough to wind the drawstring around it lower down to compensate. I used a very handy drawstring bag tutorial from The Purl Bee which also showed me how to make a gusset in the bottom of the bag, which I was very chuffed about.

Dice Bag

Bag number two was a peg bag. This has been my peg bag for years now.

Old Peg Bag

Clearly it was time for a new one. So back into the stash for some more upholstery fabric and I whipped up a gussetted peg bag with a handy long handle for hanging it off the clothes rack.

Peg Bag

All in all I was pretty satisfied with my sewing foray, although I do wish I'd used another fabric for that peg bag. Lesson learned! Next up is a lined knitting project bag using this tutorial (sans padding) from the Happy Things blog.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In which I muse on ALL THE THINGS

There's a bit of an "ALL THE THINGS" meme going around the Over the Fence Ravelry and twitter groups thanks to Zephyrama sharing a blog post from Hyperbole and a Half: "This is why I'll never be an adult". In it Allie describes the cycle of enthusiasm, burnout and avoidance associated with the burden of adult responsibilities. It's hilarious and I highly recommend you read it.

It particularly resonated with me at the moment. We are thinking and planning for a baby (no this is not a formal announcement of any kind: thinking and planning does not imply pregnancy!) and this just seems to double that burden of "adult" responsibility.

On top of working full time and managing our little household we must now consider a whole raft of additional concerns, from redoing our health care cover to considering a new car, where to live, trying to work out new budgets so we can save more, and wondering and how we will ever manage to maintain a semblance of our current lifestyle with an extra mouth and less income.

Even trying to work out how we can reduce the grocery and electricity bill implies an upfront investment of time and money (menu plans! and fancy switch-off powerboards etc) along with lifestyle changes. I've been reading about making savings on these and the recommendations others are at once inspiring and depressing. Usually because the trade off for saving money is spending extra time to do so. Shopping at multiple stores just takes more time than the Woolies dash. It's hard to cook from scratch nightly when one partner arrives home at 5.30 and the other at 6.30. Without menu plans (or even with them!) it's easy to fall prey to the quick pre-packaged dinner or takeaway - but making them eats into precious weekend time.

It's very easy to get super enthusiastic about changing your lifestyle for a week, or even a weekend. But to attempt ALL THE THINGS at once, to try change it all overnight, is definitely not the answer. Burnout sets in rapidly, expectations of improvements in finances etc take too long to appear (at least a month on our pay cycle, generally more), disappointment grows and the towel is thrown in.

So DH and I need to work out a sustainable timetable of incremental change and set some realistic expectations (god I sound like a project manager). One thing at a time. This weekend I tackled menu planning for the week. Today as well as a bit of cleaning and cooking I MIGHT update our finances and compare expenditure against the budget. Maybe I'll leave looking at cars and electricity savings until next week.

There's no need for me to feel guilty about not doing ALL THE THINGS, as long as I do some of them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In which I crash out of the race

My Tour de Fleece plans came undone this week thanks to a lower back injury. I am not sure what caused the injury - I just woke up one morning in a lot of pain - but I suspect that poor posture while hand sewing and spinning contributed to it. So no more spinning until it settles down which is sad. The hand sewing I won't miss!

The injury is kind of frustrating because I have two singles ready to ply together (and was thinking of spinning a third to see how tangled up I could get plying 3ply).

I also got bored of the natural fleece and had a shot at some pretty pink/purple merino I picked up last year. It was very cheap and I know why now - it's actually pretty horrible to spin, it was quite matted and I had to pre-draft the life out of it. I suspect it did not help the lower back. Anyway here is what I managed pre-injury.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In which I learn to spin

It's been almost exactly a year since I last posted, which is a bit embarrassing. I tend to go through cycles of reading or writing, and clearly I've been in a reading cycle for a while.

I'm breaking the silence to report that I am learning to spin. Yes, as if knitting, bellydancing etc isn't enough I have further cluttered my living room with an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. Spinning is quite enjoyable, although I still have to concentrate a fair bit on what I'm doing.

Here's my first, lumpy, overspun/underspun skein.
First Handspun

Here's my second, which is a definite improvement.
Second skein

And here's what will be the third - I'm still in the process of spinning it. I am finally achieving some consistency in the thickness and twist of the yarn.
A bobbin of handspun (Skein 3)

I am unofficially taking part in the Tour de Fleece, where you are supposed to spin everyday during the Tour de France. The idea is to set goals and challenges for yourself. My goal is to spin all of the crossbred top I have been learning on, so I can finally move onto something other than natural colours. I haven't managed to spin every day but I have been spinning most days. Which apparently is the best way to improve at spinning. Here's hoping!

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