Monday, February 27, 2012

It's not easy being green

On Sefarina's ( advice, I bought some little houseplants to sit on the windowsills to absorb some of the summer heat bursting through the glass. Unfortunately, after yesterday's 38 degrees, the poor plants themselves have got a little scorched and I have had to move them temporarily off the windowsills to recuperate! They are still giving a lovely display of cool, soothing green though, as you can see.

I had a good week in Sydney last week. Free of the distractions which come with a home office, I got some good work done on what I hope will become a novel and I also got to visit my favourite bookstore of all time...Kinokuniya. I loaded up on craft books, so hopefully over the next couple of weeks I will have some finished projects from them to show off to you.

We always say that Sydney is warmer than Melbourne; Sydney is closer to the equator, more humid, more tropical and so on. But these last couple of days have turned all that on its head. We had some very welcome rain this morning (and more on the way, judging from the skies) but it is so humid here in Melbourne. I would quite like to be back in Sydney in my air-conditioned room, with the hotel swimming pool just down the hall...Ah well, it's only summer here until Thursday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wombling Free

I started a 'skinny scarf' last night, having been inspired by the picture below. I'm knitting with Patons 'Wilderness' yarn (70% wool, 20% acrylic, 10% viscose) in a lovely plummy shade. I am envisaging it taking on sort of long, winding Tom-Baker-as-Dr-Who proportions. Simple knit stitch on big needles is very satisfying!

I have no idea where this picture is from - the magazine I saw it in was from the op-shop and the cover is missing!

I will be away from the Wood next week but I hope to drop in now and then. Have fun until we meet again!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Craft O'Clock

Thanks to the wonderful website Retro Renovation (, I have just discovered Erica Wilson, who I must admit that, up until yesterday, I had not heard of. Erica was long renowned in craft circles for her beautiful and innovative needlework and she hosted a TV show in the 1970s called simply "Erica" (see clip below). I love the green in that room and the jaunty little tune at the start!

Watching this clip yesterday, I got to thinking about how I would love to stitch a large canvas. I spent last night going through a number of embroidery books that I have and I picked out quite a few promising designs. Then I saw a knitting pattern for an easy-to-make shrug. Yes, put that on the 'to-do' pile too. Then I thought, when am I going to do all this? I have all these craft projects that I am really keen on and really want to get done but I never seem to get around to them. I make small amounts of progress but the weekends seem to often be devoted to other things and I am usually tired in the evenings and tend to just watch TV or read.

So, I wonder, when do you get your crafting done?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend Doings

With some cooler temperatures and lots of goodies from the garden, we've ventured back into the kitchen! Yesterday, my DH and I made some apple and tomato chutney. So easy! Taken from my grandma's 1933 New Standard Cookery (with imperial measures) -

6 cooking apples
4 small onions
3 teaspoons salt
3 cupfuls brown sugar
1 green pepper
6 large tomatoes
1 cup raisins
1 quart vinegar
1/4 cup peppercorns, allspice, cloves

Mix finely chopped apples, tomatoes, raisins and green pepper together in saucepan. Add remainder of ingredients and boil steadily for 1-and-a-half hours. Allow to cool. Pour into jars.

We didn't use as much vinegar as is suggested here (we used about 800ml) and we used a red pepper rather than green, so it can be adjusted to your own tastes.

And on Saturday, I made a lemon cake. Using a plain cake recipe from the Net -

2 cups self-raising flower
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk

Then, if you like, add the grated rind of 1 large lemon and a little bit of lemon juice.

Combine. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. The icing is just my usual concoction of 1 cup icing sugar and 2 tablespoons boiling water. I then added some lemon juice and this made it nice but very runny!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Sun in a Bottle

I am in a nostalgic mood today (as is sometimes my wont) and I've just found a clip (one of many, actually) of the British TV series Catweazle. Do you remember it? This first episode is really quite lovely. If you like part 1 (below), do watch part 2 to find out what "The Sun in a Bottle" is. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Looking up at the stars, and seeing the clouds pass over them in their wild flight

Charles Dickens would have been 200 years old today. His novels are so dense, so intricate, but I am growing to love them. You might remember the BBC's latest adaptation of Little Dorrit. I thoroughly enjoyed it and as much as people often complain about adaptations, I credit it with bringing me back to Dickens after some torturous experiences when I was studying Victorian literature as an undergrad many moons ago.

For some reason, whenever I think of Dickens, I think of knitting. In fact, whenever I think of the Victorians generally, I think of knitting. There are all sorts of lovely Victorian knitting patterns floating around on the Internet so if you are so inclined, I highly recommend this site - I bought a gorgeous pattern for a cape shawl first designed in Edwardian Scotland from Debby's Etsy shop ( a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ginger tree, very pretty, and the ginger flower is sweet...

My mother dropped by for lunch today and she brought with her a piece of ginger plant for me. At least, we think it's ginger plant. We don't really know! It looks so tropical and more than a little triffidy. And its aroma! I don't know if I like it exactly but it's very distinctive. Sort of like the scent of a lily. No shrinking violet, this one. This flower makes a statement!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Happiness is...

...buying a big bag of mixed balls of wool from the op-shop. I love the autumn colours. I can feel a seasonal project coming on!

...and knitting big, loose-as-a-goose panels for my current knitting 'thing' on my favourite 10 mm needles (a little more about that over at

What's making you happy right now?