It Must Be Spring

Over the last five or six weekends we’ve had the landscaper in to replace the retaining wall – the one our neighbours arranged to have fixed when the new fence went in, but the fencers did a shoddy job of it, reusing the old rotting boards at the bottom where we couldn’t see them. Turns out our neighbours were disappointed with the job, but never did anything about it. And they never told us they weren’t happy. At least, not until I had to go over there to get permission for the landscaper to work on their side if he needed to.

Because the landscaper had to do nearly all of the work from the high side and there’s a fence in the way, he couldn’t use a mechanical post hole digger. It’s taken three or four times longer than it ought to (and there’s been no offer from the neighbours on contributing to the cost). But after seven years of waiting for this to be fixed, I was finally able to plant out the bed without worrying about it washing away.

I filled it with several kinds of lavender and lots of 30 year old rose bushes re-homed from the garden of our friends’ parents, who will be building a house on their old rose garden.

I also got the landscaper to remove the ginger plants down the back, because it grows faster than we can keep up to now that I have RSI. I like it, but it constantly crowds the young maple tree, and I’d rather keep that than the ginger. We replaced it with more roses:

Before this, I had got to the point of thinking that an inner city apartment with a small courtyard garden might be in my future. I used to like the idea when I was in my early 20s, but once I had a house of my own I couldn’t imagine not having a back yard. But then my back problems started, and now that my hands have gone all finicky about what I do with them the idea of an apartment appeals again, so long as I have room for a small herb garden, a lemon or lime tree and a collection of pot plants.

But in the last week, with Paul’s help, I got some work done. We’ve weeded the front garden and the cat run bed, put the old compost out on the back garden bed and started a new batch, sprayed the driveway and given everything a good dose of seaweed fertiliser.

Of course, tidying up meant I noticed pot plants that needed repotting and herbs that needed replacing. I dusted off a three tier pot stand for the herbs, and got all inspired by the the idea of turning my Pa’s rusty old workbench into a garden seat. Next thing I was at Bunnings reflecting that what I’d read once – that gardening is the hobby Australians spend the most money on – must be true.

Of course, the pots weren’t cheap. Especially the big one I needed to save the badly pot-bound umbrella tree I’d adopted from an old neighbour of my previous house:

I should have repotted it a few years ago, but I am keeping it semi-bonsai-ed deliberately to control it’s growth. The three long pots have cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, garlic chives, curly parsley and flat leaf parsley, and the bottom one has runners from my peppermint herb. I got Paul to fill up the hollow under the rims with silicone to prevent snails napping under there.

There’s still more work to do, and I’m hoping we’ll get it done tomorrow. The landscaper has some drainage to install and more weeding and mulching to do. I’m hoping to persuade Paul to tackle the workbench garden seat conversion – into which will go two big square pots that I’ll plant out with aloe vera and some hanging succulents. I have some tough Aussie native grasses needing to be separated into smaller plants to plant where we reverse and turn our cars. And Paul really needs to get around to feeding and mowing the lawn.

I don’t know whether it was needing to tidy a few things up so the landscaper could spread the mulch, or the scent of early flowering plants, or the sun coming up a bit earlier, or the effect of more than half a day of sunlight, but I’m suddenly more interested in gardening than I have been in two years. I hope my enthusiasm doesn’t disappear as fast as it materialised!

Renovations & Repairs

The Garage Conversion is coming along. Here’s the new garage:

And from the side:

Paul had been slowly clearing out the old one and filling up the new, but when the new school term started, and he knew he was going to need the studio set up for a photography assignment, he found the impetus to finally empty it.

We then spent a morning dusting off cobwebs, filling holes, sweeping out dust (twice), vacuuming, and mopping (twice). The walls and ceiling had a few marks but not so bad that we needed to paint it, but there were some holes in the plaster and a mouldy patch under the back door, and the new door still hadn’t been painted. We didn’t want long delays, though. So I figured we’d only get it painted it if I could get someone to do it within the week. I looked up painters and decorators in the local area and started ringing, and to our surprise it worked. The studio was painted a week later – and I’m definitely keeping this guy’s number for future work.

We bought some new and second hand furniture, and Paul is moving all his stuff in. I have to admit to some studio envy. His is more than double the size of mine, and we’re going to put taps and a sink in. But I don’t envy him the cold concrete floor. He decided he wanted to leave it as it is. Maybe we’ll get a square of carpet or a big old rug. And some chairs. And a heater.

Moar Jewlreez

Yep, I’ve been at it again.


I had threaded beads onto two wires for a project I changed my mind about. So I joined them and added a charm and chain…


… and a pretty clasp.


I made the length of joined spiralling wire years ago. Finally found a use for it as part of a bracelet.


Here they are again.


And finally, a necklace made of buttons.

At Last!

A few months back when I was preparing for the weaving demonstration, I relied on some very old books, instructions that came with a mini inkle loom, and YouTube to work out how to weave tape. The only broad guide on the subject I found wasn’t published yet. But I preordered it anyway, and it arrived a week or two ago:

It’s a bit of a revelation, actually. Did you know you can weave inkle tubes? Well, I didn’t. Before it arrived I was feeling rather innovative having started an inkle using silver lurex thread. Now I have a lot more inkle weaving techniques to explore.

Once I get Japanese beadweaving out of my system, that is. I finally finished a piece. It took longer than I expected – several hours working in half hour/hour long stints to be kind to my back and hands:

It didn’t work out quite as neat as the picture in the book, but that’s to be expected. I wasn’t using the specified beads, which are evenly sized, but some leftovers in my jewellery box. The twist isn’t as tight as it should be, but I get the feeling that this sort of beadwork is a bit like knitting in that it takes practise to get your tension even.

I’m not 100% confident that the threads won’t eventually pull out of the ends, either. I wove two rows on each thread, so I didn’t have meters of thread getting all tangled as it went through each bead, and this meant I had about ten threads to deal with at one end rather than one to neatly wind around a clasp then sew back into the beads. I took the ten threads through a bead cap and some black beads, doubled back then tied them around a bead within the cap. I suspect I should glue that knot.

Despite all this, and despite gold not being a colour that suits me, I’m rather pleased with it and have lined up another project.

More Jewellery

Two of those bracelets so popular at the moment. You know the ones. Tutorial here.

A piece of knitted wire made years ago as an experiment, that I didn’t know what to do with but too pretty to throw away. Bit of ribbon and some press studs, and shaping it into a ruffle = wire cuff bracelet.

Four lapis lazuli beads that I picked up somewhere. Not enough for a necklace, but with this simple but fancy clasp I bought at the Quilt and Craft Show they became a delicate bracelet.

When over in Perth a few years ago I discovered that some of the chokers I’d brought were now too tight. I bought a packet of different sized rings at a $2 shop, but the middle sized ones are low quality metal and bend too easily. What to do? Treat them like beads and thread onto a leather necklace base.

These were easy projects. I also started a necklace from the Japanese Beadwork book. While the directions are easy to follow, it’s slow work. And it seems the more jewellery I make, the more ideas I get for more. I’ve bought a few beading magazines and I’m madly pinning jewellery tutorials. I tell you what, polymer clay has come a long way since the 80s. And I’m even eyeing off Paul’s soldering iron and blow torch.

Phil’s Home

Still on a jewellery making thing, but no photos yet, so instead I give you:

He needed a safe, private transportation device, so I bought a box, added handles and tissue paper. Not so much a hat box as a head box.

Posted in art

Machine Knit Gloves

So having established that I can make socks on the knitting machine, a month or so ago I started thinking about what else I can make a) on the machine and b) with 4ply yarn. The first thing to pop into my head was gloves. Which might have something to do with the weather (brrrr!).

The first pair aren’t technically gloves. They’re wrist warmers, made from one of the tubes of yarn I whipped up to make socks out of. It was too short for socks but ideal for wrist warmers.

The second are my first attempt to make a thumb gusset on the machine. It was fiddly, and the pair took me two hours – as long as the last pair of socks. But I know what I’m doing with the socks, so once I do a few pairs of gloves the process should speed up.

I took those to my second Machine Knitters meeting and they got a lot of interest. As they discussed how I did the thumb gusset the host, Libby, brought out a pair of full gloves – as in with fingers – and a pattern. So I snaffled a copy of the pattern and the following weekend gave it a try using Bendigo Classic 3ply.

I learned a whole lot doing these, including how to use pushers to get the machine to only knit stitches I want it to knit – in the round. The gloves are a teeny bit too small, but so are all commercially produced gloves so it’s not the pattern, it’s my hands.

But this means I can adjust the pattern and have knitted gloves that fit properly. Yippee!

The Big Jewellery Tidy-Up Ep.2

My collection of ‘costume’ jewellery is a lot like my wardrobe. There are a few pieces (my debutante dress) that I don’t can’t wear but keep for sentimental reasons. There are a few items that are seasonal (not much point wearing bracelets in winter). There are some things I once liked but don’t really wear any more, or really don’t suit me, or aren’t comfortable. And there are favourites – some of which I’ve worn out. Just as with clothing, I’ve got some jewellery I picked up at charity shops, and some I made by refashioning charity shop buys. Or remade out of pieces that I got tired of, or a jewellery project that didn’t quite work.

So after sorting and culling I took out my jewellery-making box and brought together the pieces that needed mending or I could pull apart and reuse bits of, and spent a couple of evenings working on it all in front of the tv.

In the jewellery-making box were some projects that had been waiting for time or materials, and some of the fixes and refashions required some jewellery findings, so after a fruitless trip to the local Riot Art – which was half empty thanks to stocktake sales – I jumped online and two days later a little package arrived stuffed full of findings. Then, of course there was the Quilt & Craft Fair mad dash, and then a few days ago I found some findings on sale at Lincraft.

So here’s some of the results of all that mad jewellery-making:

I was never completely satisfied with the nail-polish bead necklace, so I simplified it:

I used the leftover leather to make a plaited bracelet. With it is a bracelet I made a few months ago:

This was going to be a necklace, but when I realised I had a LOT of necklaces and not many bracelets I decided to do the latter. I think it suits the beads better this way:

The jade was originally on a ring and silver chain. Later I put it onto a strip of leather. This time I’ve added a pendant bail and chain, and a fish charm:

This pendant was originally a stitch marker:

Back when I was playing with making books into things I made several paper beads. This was the only ellipse one:

I simply strung it onto some tiger tail with some silver beads. I wore this the day of the Fair and it was commented on by people there, and later at drawing class:

Hat pins! The online store had the pins, and they came with a ‘clutch’ or without. I had no idea what that was for so I bought both kinds. The clutch keeps the beads in place more effectively than the bead I used for the other:

Some years ago I made this necklace using a loom weaving technique I learned as a child. The thread had begun to wear through, so I remade it on the inkle loom:

Then I got all inspired and made this one, which took several hours:

Unfortunately some of the loops are all twisty, so I’ve put it aside until I’ve got over my disappointment enough to pull it apart and do it again.

There are still some pieces to fix or refashion and new pieces to make, and Japanese beading to try, when the knitting machine and looms aren’t calling me.