A while ago I made armwarmers out of the leg sections of an old pair of socks I’d handknit and had shrunk in the wash:


That left the feet sections unused. I kept them, thinking that eventually I’d find a use for them.


And I did. My new camera bag:


I’ve been using a cotton crocheted one since 2005. I tended to pop the spare battery in the bottom of the bag, but when the camera died and I got a new one I found both the new camera and battery were smaller. The battery was prone to slipping out when I took the camera out. It needed it’s own pocket.

I could have adapted the old, overly big bag, or knitted a new one from scratch, but adding a flap and pocket to one of the sock feet was faster. And I like how colourful it is.

As for the remaining foot… I’ll find a use for it one day.

Sketch Sunday 8


No new sketch this week – life has been too busy! I’m posting one of my fallback sketches from before Sketch Sunday started. Drawn last October, it is of balls of handspun yarn and a bowl I received for my birthday. Just a quick, rough one.

Annual Overeating Day

My family has never been one for the traditional trappings of Christmas, especially when it comes to food. Hot Australian summers weren’t very kind to roast-cooking mothers back in the days before airconditioners, and the cold meat and salad dinner has become the norm.

Well, except that I’m not one for sticking to norms. While I don’t do a roast, I do play a little with the meat and salad idea. And this year I decided to do a ‘disappointment free’ Christmas lunch. It’s roots are in a rather traumatic experience I had as a child…

Relative at Christmas event: Hello child. Do you like mince pies?
Trudi: Yes!
Relative: Here, have one of these.
Trudi: Thank you. (Bite.) YEEEUURRRRRK! They’re not mince pies!
Relative (puzzled, or maybe smug): They’re fruit mince pies. For Christmas.
Trudi: Is this a trick? Because it’s MEAN.

So this year I made mince pies filled with turkey and cranberries, and lamb, spices and dates:


I also made Waldorf Salad without the celery, sauteed brussell sprouts with soy sauce and pine nuts rather than those squishy grey things, and ‘Mangomisu’ which contained orange and mango and, most importantly for me, no coffee.

It all worked very well apart from the Mangomisu. Once it was released from the springform tin, the sides gradually slumped. We managed to cut slices before the whole thing began to collapse, and eventually tipped it all into a bowl and called it ‘Mango-mess-eww’ – or ‘trifle’.

While disappointing, I have to admit to some smugness that I hadn’t used any recipies for the rest of the food, while the one recipe I did try – which happened to be the cover recipe on a Delicious magazine issue – was the one that failed. As to why it failed… I suspect a combination of not beating the cream enough, the fridge not being cold enough, and it being a warm afternoon.

Even so, it tasted great!

I gave Dad his socks:


They fit perfectly. And this is how the table setting looked:


The base was a piece of styrofoam covered in crepe paper, and on top was a length of shredded paper that I’d strung onto lengths of cotton at either end. I took photos of the making of it, but it was a very hot day, the blinds were closed, and the photos came out too grainy.

I even wrapped the presents in old printed paper, glued together, with little triangular windows cut out and celophane stuck behind for colour. This amused my parents no end, and Dad kept trying to work out what the printing on the back of the wrapping and placemats was from.

It was a fun, though exhausting, day.

I’m particularly relieved that it all came together, because we had such a stressful week and there’ll be no lazing about on Boxing Day for me. First the courier that was supposed to deliver some work for me missed us on Monday, didn’t notify us until Tuesday, and didn’t deliver the work until late Wednesday – and then the cat suddenly became ill on Wednesday night so we rushed him to a late-night vet, then had to get him xrayed on Thursday. So now I have four days to proof a manuscript.

But at least there’s lots of yummy leftovers to eat! And the cat should be okay, in the short term. (He’s 15 and it looks like he’s got spinal cord degeneration.)

The Lamp

I’ve made three more placemats out of shredded paper, so I have the beginning of a table setting. Next I’ve made a larger piece that I stuck on to be the base:


I stuck a length of paper along the bottom and folded it in half. Then I taped strips of celophane togther:


The celophane tucked into the folded base. All I needed to do then was to bend the whole thing into a cylinder and glue it together:


And with one of those push-button lights in the centre, I have a lamp. Next? Well, I’m considering a couple of ways to make a table runner. I could do the same shredded paper effect, but I think that’d be too much of the same. So I’m looking at my book and chewing on a few other ideas.

An Illustrated Life

I started listening to podcasts a few years back when, stuck in a doctor’s waiting room listening to easy listening music for 45 minutes every week (while waiting to see if the allergy desensitisation injections I had made me explode, or something) I knew I had to do something or become a musak rage statistic.

First there were the knitting and crochet podcasts, then I found an excellent weaving one, and finally I discovered a few ones on art and design. (Look in the sidebar for my favourites.) In the latter category, my favourite is An Illustrated Life, a series of interviews with artists about their sketchbooks, which it turned out were featured in the podcaster’s book. Every time I listened to an episode I’m so filled with inspiration that I have to ration the episodes so I don’t simply put aside work, all other hobbies, eating and sleeping in order to satisfy the itch to sketch.


While looking for paper craft books on Fishpond recently, I found the book the podcaster (Danny Gregory) had referred to and decided to order it. It features many more artists than the podcast, so while it is great to see the work of the ones who were interviewed it’s also great to see so many diverse styles and read so many stories. I love this book. I love how I can pick it up and read an artists story and examine their work when I have a spare ten minutes, or spend longer leafing through the pages. I think I may have to relisten to the podcasts I’ve already heard, so I can look at the artist’s pictures at the same time.


I had also spotted a book that intrigued me. A big, expensive book that I admit I probably wouldn’t have bought if it hadn’t been 60% off. The Writer’s Brush is similar in format to An Illustrated Life in that each artist occupies a few pages only. But these artists are also writers – famous literary and historical figures. Some are better known as writers, some as artists. Some of the art is merely character sketches, some are beautiful paintings. It’s described as ‘a lifetimes’s work’ and my mind spins at the phenomenal amount of research that went into it – not to mention work gaining permission to print the art from so many sources. I am in awe of this book (even as I’m slightly smug that I’m a lot better artist than many of these writers, while also very aware that I’m nowhere near as good a writer as any of them!).

Sketch Sunday 7


I’m a recent discoverer of the Meet Me At Mikes blog. There’s a thing they do, and a few other blogs do – I’m not sure what it’s called – where they nominate a theme, and people blog about it, and then enter a link to their post on the Meet Me At Mikes blog post.

Yesterday the theme was “The ‘Me’ Wardrobe”. The idea is to post about that thing you wear that you love most. You dread the day it finally falls apart. Reading this: “…maybe you could even draw it! That way if it dies you’ll have a lovely souvenir… “, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – blend Sketch Sunday with The ‘Me’ Wardrobe, and make a record of my favourite shoes.

(Which was great because I was supposed to go camping this weekend and had planned to do my weekly sketch en plein air, but it was cancelled due to predictions of rain.)

I have wierd, long, narrow feet and very sensitive skin. It’s not just a problem getting shoes that fit, but shoes that don’t rub my skin off within a hundred steps. I’ve actually demonstrated this to overly pushy shop assistants by walking up and down the store a half dozen times with the shoes they insist fit perfectly, then showing them how I’m bleeding.

The shoes above are that rare miracle – a comfortable shoe that looks ‘evenish’. I’ve had them for nigh on twenty years. They’ve had extra soley bits added to them, and I even had them mailed back to me after I left them at a painting retreat once.

I dread the day they die. When they do, I’ll probably bury them in the garden with a simple and solemn ceremony, and a tear of regret.

Home, Paper, Shredder

Last night, what with the lack of anything worth watching on tv, and my hands being a bit sore from knitting Dad’s socks, I decided to try out the cover project from home, paper, scissors.


I fed my new shredder some old manuscript editing pages, cut up the strips into short pieces, and started glueing. Instead of using a ceramic bowl covered in cling wrap, I used the packaging from last year’s Lions Christmas Pudding. I had plenty of scraps of paper left over, so I got out a plain white shopping bag and made a flat piece. This morning both were dry enough to peel off.


I was pretty chuffed at how well the bowl turned out. I’m sure I could make many more. But I’m not sure I have much use for lots and lots of paper bowls. The flat piece however, got me thinking about placemats for Christmas lunch. And about the lanterns I’d made. Which have celophane inside…


Glue one on top of the other…


A placemat. I just need to make three more. And maybe a table runner. And napkin rings. And maybe a tube to put over one of those push-button lights.

Yes, well, let’s see how much time I get. For the moment I’m making more placemats.

And I also made ‘Very Easy Fudge’ from a recent issue of Delicious magazine.


Which is, indeed, very easy. It’s also very yummy, and very not-good-for-the-diet.

What’s Cookin’?

Usually I start the mad season baking a bit earlier than this, but this year the bug just wasn’t biting. Then on Wednesday night, at around 8:30pm, it finally caught up with me. I have two favourites:


Shortbread. The soft, buttery kind that melts in your mouth, with just a touch of rice flour texture.


Lebkuchen. Spicy German gingerbread with a thumbprint of jam on top, and coated with chocolate on the bottom. I’m not German, and I have no idea if this is a Christmassy treat, but I tried out the recipe in my biscuit book one day and loved it so much I’ve make it almost every year since. This is the book:


It probably dates from the early 90s, but Women’s Weekly often updates and reprints their books for years so it might still be around.

In other crafty news, I bought a shredder:


Projects for 2010

I don’t just use my sketchbook for sketching…


This is a kind of visual list of future projects. Some are new, some are old, some are very old.

Row 1, left: New Zealand Trip Photo Album
Since we went there in May 2008, this one is overdue. I have tackled it a few times, but was having trouble choosing photos to fit the format of the book I wanted to make. When I did the albums for our more recent Canada trip, I letting the photos dictate the format, and it was much easier. I’ve been doing a lot of rethinking, and I’m pretty sure I know what approach to take now.

Row 1, right: London Underground Teatowel Pillows
Paul has a few of these, but they’d look a bit twee used as hangings (and see previous post for reasons for us to avoid taking up more space on walls) and end up packed away out of sight. I’ve finally talked Paul into letting me turn them into pillows. (No photo because… well… we can’t find them. But they’ll turn up.)

2nd row, left: Mannequin Legs Garden Stand – DONE!
Yes, you read that right. This is my oldest WIP. I adopted these legs back in 1988, and originally I wanted to turn them into a coffee table. But I’ve never had room for a coffee table that big, and I couldn’t figure out how to level off the top. Now I have a solution for the latter problem, and the plan is to slather on some terracotta outdoor paint and surround them with pot plants.

2nd row, right: Paul’s Dad’s Sketches
A really big project with two aims. First, to gather the sketches together in a aesthetically pleasing and accessible way (most are in ugly plastic folders). Second, to do so in a way that takes up less space. This one is going to take a lot of thinking.

3rd row, left: Plaster Mould Box Frames
Underneath the previous house I owned, I found a whole lot of framer supplies. Among them were some plaster moulds for making decorative mouldings. I kept a few of them, thinking they were too interesting to throw away. But they’re delicate and I can’t glue or put screws in them, so I need to work out a way to make protective frames they won’t fall out of, to either sit on a shelf or hang. (No pics because the moulds are in the garage in a cupboard I can’t get to without backing a car out.)

3rd row, right: Wall Art for Bathroom – DONE!
Our bathroom is purple. A very dark purple, too. There’s a big wall above the bath that is begging for some decoration. I was going to paint a design. I like the idea of wall decals, too, but haven’t found any I like yet.

4th row, left: Paint Mirror, Front Door Gloss Black
Actually, what started as a way to improve an ugly mirror frame and our pink front door (yes, it’s pink, a dark salmony revolting pink) has grown into an expanding project for redecorating the lounge. We have a feature wall in burgundy that needs repainting, and after looking into black wallpapers I’ve got an idea for doing something combining black matt and gloss paint.

4th row, right: Dyed Denim Rya Rug – did another tabby rag rug instead
This one has been on the list for a while now. I’ve done a sampler (pic above). I just need to dye up some denim strips, warp up the loom and get knotting. Trouble is, it’s a slow process and it’ll keep me from doing other weaving projects for some time.

And on the next page of my sketchbook there are more ideas appearing, including:

Recycled Objects Mirrors – DONE!
I have two leftover mirrors and mdf circles from decorating the ensuite. I have chopsticks, and wooden pegs, and stain, and varnish…

Wooden Bowl Frames
I had this idea a few years ago, and only found the right kind of bowls in an op shop recently. These old 70s style finger bowls would make great frames, either for black and white photos or mini paintings. I’ll mount the photos on a white block set in the middle of the frames.

Most of these projects involve the recycling or repurposing of something. This isn’t a new interest – more of an ongoing one. I used to ‘rescue’ old furniture and give it a new life. It came out of a need to be thrifty, but I’ve come to love the look of old stuff revived, and of salvaged, throw-away materials repurposed. And with Paul being a bit of accumulator of ‘interesing old stuff’ (but not much of a renovator of them) I have plenty of material to work with.

Ideas Spilleth Over

Last year the nasturtiums spilled out of their garden bed, and this year they’ve done the same. I came to love them during the previous years, when the garden was a muddy, mess of discarded building materials, coke cans and moldy tradesmen’s lunches until the nasturtiums covered everything in green and brilliant orange.


Right now they are not unlike how things are going for me. Chaotic and overgrown, yet bountiful and inspiring. Unexpected beauty in a mess.

I’ve got ideas springing out of my ears right now. And this doesn’t help:


Yep, my book order arrived. (Well, part of it. The two art books apparently shipped last week but haven’t got here yet. This one shipped on Monday and arrived this morning.) home, paper, scissors is full of projects that use paper and card to make bowls, artwork, frames for artwork, light and candle shades, placemats, napkin rings, bags, books, stationary and decorations for the home.

The project on the cover got my attention straight away. I thought ‘I could make those with recycled paper’, and it turns out that is also a suggestion of the author. But I try not to buy a craft book just on the cover project. There has to be more. Snooping around on the internet got me a look at some of the inside projects. This caught my eye:


And this:


And once I got my hands on the book, I was also charmed by this:


And this:


(Though I probably wouldn’t do it as a wall hanging, since this is a house of a photographer and artist who both collect books. There’s enough competition for wall space already. I’m thinking cards – or the cover of a book.)

The paper flowers, frames and wall art don’t do anything for me, however. But there’s plenty in here I like, and plenty with recycling potential.