Monthly Archives: September 2013

WordPress Family Blog Award

Some time ago I was kindly nominated for the WordPress family Blog Award by tinkerbellknits, who has a lovely blog you might like to visit.  Thanks so much, tinkerbellknits!


Award Description:
“This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I start this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award.”


I am in turn nominating the following bloggers as people who have had a positive impact on my experience as a blogger… through their writing and what its shows about their craft and their values, their modelling of what a blog could be and what a blogger could be.

I hope you might check out their blogs.

Cossack design

Wendi of the Treasure

Grackle and Sun

Sea Green and Sapphire

Pia at Colour Cottage


Deb McClintock

Trembling Inside the Cocoon

HXGreen Soul


My thanks to all those who have supported this blog–I started out quite unsure whether I would enjoy or persist with it, and I find that I do and I will.

…and since we have been talking yarn bombs a little lately, here are some I added to the local bike path quite a while back.  They are some of my early experiments in art yarn–some even made at a workshop with the inimitable Jacey Boggs (others made after poring over her book or DVDs).  Cocoons, corespun, beehives and supercoils.

Collage of Yarn bombs


Filed under Leaf prints, Neighbourhood pleasures, Spinning

Silkworms: 2 week update

My goodness…  they just keep growing!



I don’t mean to sound surprised by this… and I am not sure how to make it interesting viewing, either.


It’s hard to even give a sense of scale… but I think they’re at least double the size they were last week, which isn’t bad going.  You can still see tinier silkworms amid the bigger ones in the images above.


And just for the curious, my parents inform me (based on first hand, childhood experience living in a country town with few mulberry trees) that a hungry silkworm will eat a grape vine leaf.  I tested this theory and mine definitely chose mulberry leaves over grape leaves–but a few were prepared to nibble on the grape leaves.  For today… mulberry leaf again!


Filed under Fibre preparation

Further experiments in converting textile waste

I have been wondering about trying some more spinning experiments with waste from the overlocker and the carding process.  There is nothing like yarn bombing to make me consider any kind of yarn useable!  Yarn bombing is even more forgiving than teapots when it comes to the texture and qualities of the fibre concerned… and there is an argument for only using fibres that can’t be made into clothing or blankets for yarn bombing, I think.  So in a  burst of carding enthusiasm, I’ve been preparing batts.

First up, carding waste (corriedale dyed with eucalypt), overlocker waste (from bag making, mostly–silk, cotton, linen and some polyester blend) and some polwarth locks to hold it all together.  Here it is going into the drum carder:


Carded and ready to spin.


More fabric scraps and overlocker thread in some parts than others…


While I was on the job, I carded some rough lavender wool of unknown origin.  It was discarded by the felting group at the Guild: say no more!   I re-washed it, which improved its texture and cleanliness somewhat…


The felters also passed on this green fibre of unknown origin, which was improved very much by re-washing and carded out beautifully.  I have added dyed mohair locks and silk noil, and we’ll see if it can become a repectable art yarn.


Carding waste from those two batts and some more overlocker waste…


I’ll report back when I’ve tried turning these away from the waste stream and into something of use!


Filed under Fibre preparation

Guerilla Gardeners and Yarn Bombers Strike the Neighbourhood!

Yarn bombers have been out and about in our neighbourhood!  They have improved a neglected spot a short distance from our place, cheering up people who’ve had a year of more construction noise, dust and reverse beeping than most of us can readily stand.  Bless them!


Not content with tree decorating, they bombed the odd pole as well…


Plus a raised herb garden for the locals to enjoy…


They even left a potted lime tree and a bougainvillea.  I took a down-at-mouth neighbour along to see and she was quite cheered up by the constructive neighbourhood reclamation and whimsy of it all.  So was I.


They go by the name of ‘Viva La Broad Bean’ and I can only congratulate and cheer them on.  I met one of them when I went to take these pictures and congratulated her in person.  I was able to share our neighbourhood revegetation projects with her, too.


Meanwhile, the streets nearby are full of bottlebrush (callistemon) trees in flower.  Thousands of blooms, each the size of an old fashioned bottlebrush–but splendidly red.  It occurred to me that this is a form of wonder and beauty that non-Australians mostly don’t experience.


The abundance of flowers has brought lorikeets into the neighbourhood to feed on the nectar and hold high pitched, apparently gleeful conversation.  They don’t hang about to be photographed, but I managed to take a picture of this rainbow lorikeet before it flew off like a green comet.



Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

Silkworms: 1 week update


One week along, I have at least 100 silkworms and have started trying to find them future homes.  The wigglers with pale heads are a week old, but you can see two tiny black ones toward the bottom of this image which have hatched much more recently.  I will be needing a lot of mulberry leaves if this keeps up!

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Filed under Fibre preparation

Pecan leaf print bag

Pecans do grown in this part of the world, even if they are not terribly common.  A long while back I wrote about leaf printing with pecan leaves from our friends’ tree.  I have had it in mind all the while to make them something from those leaf prints.  Finally I have made good on this idea.  In fact, my beloved saw one of our pecan-growing friends yesterday and told her I’d made them a gift… so this bag is destined for the post sooner rather than later.

I started out with this sun-faded linen frock–the shades of colour you see are not effects of the sun falling on the fabric but the impact of fading.  I think I paid $2 for the frock at a red cross op shop.


The lining has a pocket from a recycled ramie shirt, and a patchworked panel of leaf printed silk offcuts from another recycled frock.  Here are the inside panels ready to be stitched to the rest of the lining.


The remainder of the lining is yellow.  A  long time ago there was shop in our neighbourhood that just sold offcuts from a sheet manufacturer, and having made entire quilts, bunting and bags from those offcuts I still have some left!  Here is the finished item on top of my madder patch.  The madder is appreciating the warmer weather–at least until it gets too hot for it to enjoy, and I am hoping my friends will like their present.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Sewing, Uncategorized

Hatchling silkworms and other thrills

Last year, I bought five silk worms at a school fair and raised them into moths. Later, when I was wondering what to expect next, I had quite a conversation with a delightful woman in the Button Bar in the Adelaide Arcade, as you do.  I can’t remember how we got from the tea cosy she was knitting to silk worms, but somehow we did.  She told me to expect the eggs that resulted from a dalliance between a couple of my moths to hatch in September.  I remember thinking about this on 1 September.  Then on Friday 13 September I realised I had taken no action and sprinted down the hall to check on them and lo!  There were tiny black creatures wiggling around!  I made an immediate mercy dash to the nearest mulberry tree.  Can you make the hatchlings out?


The hatchlings are the tiny black lines.  Those spots on the cardboard are eggs.  Today I conservatively estimate I have 50 silkworm hatchlings, and I have started working on finding some of them new homes.

Meanwhile, I have been on a bag jag… sewing loads more bags and taming [some of] my scrap collection.  I decided to photograph a lining in progress on the weekend, because what is more thrilling than a lining?



Well, one of our chooks seemed to think so.  She could tell whatever was happening on the table was worth looking into, so she flew up immediately to check into it.  Regrettably, this was not an edible thrill from her point of view.


Thrills come in very disparate packages, all depending on perspective… or so it seems to me!  Audrey finds earwigs a lot more thrilling than I do.

Meanwhile, I have taken the nettle stems back out of the retting bath (which this time certainly did go to the garden–) and set them out in the rain to rinse.  Since so much of my crafting takes place in crevices of time and is ordered by whim rather than a linear plan, I hope you’re managing to follow all these emerging themes …


Filed under Fibre preparation, Leaf prints, Sewing

Fibre processing continues…

For those who are wondering… the nettle stems are back in the retting wheelbarrow for now. So I return to our regularly scheduled fibre–wool.

All I want to say about this last Polwarth fleece, with the prickly seedheads and the tips that were spiny and pulled off… is that I have reached the end of it.  Here it is–the last of it–!  It will be keeping toes warm for years to come once these slippers are felted. I do not need to spin more of it, ever.  The fleece from this sheep’s sibling, and fleece from this sheep in other years, are lovely, and I will return to those in time.


Next stop on the fibre processing journey is a Corriedale fleece one of my co-workers gave me (in 2011!! I wrote the date down).  I dyed some greasy a year or so ago and it came out badly.  I can be put off by experiences like that, which so often indicate the current limitations of my skills or patience, or both.  I put the Corriedale down and haven’t come back to it for at least a year.  It does have vegetable matter in it, but it is otherwise a lovely fleece.  I weighed the remainder and there was 2.3 kg still to wash.  It’s in a yellow plastic bag designed for a double bed feather quilt.


I sat a kilogramme of it to soak cold for a few days, because I’ve seen this suggested on Ravelry and it makes good sense as a first stage in getting mud, as well as grease, out of the fleece.  having tried it now, I would definitely use this process again.


This kilogramme is now clean and drying, and that leaves only 1.3kg of this fleece yet to be washed.  After that, only one more Polwarth fleece left to wash. I admit, a Polwarth is a mighty big sheep.  However, this is the closest I have been in years to having the fleece stash clean and ready to spin!


Filed under Fibre preparation, Knitting, Spinning

Waste not, want not, with a side serving of the election

I live in a society so wealthy and so wasteful, in global context, that any selection of actions I make about waste reduction can feel a bit arbitrary.  I see so many missed opportunities every day!  But still the principle that waste should be avoided is beyond criticism, and the principle that I should do what I can, is likewise sound.  So this election night, I took the eucalyptus-printed silk/hemp scraps from my previous foray into shirtmaking (I was piecing them together back in this post) and the scraps of my skirt adventure, and created bags from them. I love bags.  I love making them, giving them and carrying them around.  I seldom leave home with less than three, a curious fact I’ve decided to relax about.

Skirt bag 1: has already gone to an enthusiastic new owner who cooked a fabulous dinner for us last night:


Skirt bag 2 is with me now and soon to be introduced to someone I am confident will like it:


I decided to line the hemp/silk bags on account of the method of piecing I had chosen and being unsure of the fabric’s propensity to wear.  I had leftover silk noil from various workshops and from making pillowcases.  Apologies for the dodgy pictures taken after dark, indoors, with a flash.  Some bloggers are so impatient!


There were some small sample pieces that had indigo australis and local eucalyptus leaves printed onto them and then an iron afterbath in the Blue Mountains.  I took these pictures just before they vanished into the interior of the bags to be seen only by the new owners, whom I hope will enjoy having this treat inside their bags!  I personally am the kind of person who revels in pocket linings made of treasured fabrics, whether they are organic flour bags or were formerly part of my late Grandmother’s extensive scarf collection.  Needless to say, I love a bag lining with a story.


I like these bags a lot. The weight of the fabric with the lining works well, to my way of thinking.  I could feel the urge to give these away before they were off the sewing machine, so here are pictures on an overcast morning!

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This next one has been rated suitable as a gift for my mother-out-law, who is apparently generous enough in her assessment of my skills to talk to her friends about my crafting sometimes.  She has friends who have been weavers and dyers for years.  She herself has been a wonderful garment creator for decades and keeps thinking she has given it up and then changing her mind, so her judgment may not be unbiased but I am flattered by it nonetheless.  Her bag has been finished with a strip from a heavy weight ramie shirt found at an op shop (thrift store)–beautiful fabric and sewing skill but an appalling garment I felt no compunction about cutting up and redeploying.  Most of it became another bag complete with interior welt/flap pockets which had been a beautifully crafted feature of the front of the shirt.  Sadly they were an offence against fashion even to me, and I don’t hold with fashion much!


And for gratuitous images, I have these of our hens.  They don’t stand around waiting for their photos to be taken when there are earwigs to be found.


However, they are glorious, and they are also blissfully ignorant of the election that was taking place the day I snapped their pictures.  We were planting and pruning and mowing and they were seeking insects and seeds.

I feel deeply sad that the people of my country have elected a government that thinks we need to pay less international aid to fund infrastructure here; that expresses routine contempt rather than compassion for refugees taking desperate measures to escape their mostly war torn homelands and get to our shores; that thinks roads are a higher priority than public transport; that cares little for renewable energy and plans to fund it less; and that has expressed little interest in participating in global efforts to halt or turn back environmental devastation or climate change.  Here’s India Flint on the subject, should you wish for more.  I haven’t made a habit of commenting on the state of our nation here, but I felt the need to mark the day.  There will be some serious further consideration given to the forms of action that might be needed in the coming period at our house and in our community of friends.  Thinking about the state of the world and our impact upon it, in all their complexity, will continue to be crucial.


Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Show time!

It is Adelaide Royal Show time again.  Spring began here only a few days ago, by the calendar.  There was a brief hot spell–33C is too much too soon for me–and then for the first day of the show, overcast and threatening rain as these dim pictures may suggest.  This week I have been tuning up the bunting I made to protect our little community revegetation project–around one of my favourite E Scoparia trees.  I sewed all the pieces back together, made some more, joined it all with some recycled cotton yarn, and… this morning we went out and applied it.


The saltbush and other natives we have planted here have come on wonderfully–and there has been a spectacular fail with transplanting dianellas which I’ll pull out once the show is over. The yellow flowering tree on the right is a wattle that is doing really well (and not because we planted it).  The modest goal of this bunting is to gently suggest to people walking from the show (who will likely come down the path on the right of the image below) heading for the car parking on the left of the image below… that they should walk around this patch rather than trampling it in the dark after the fireworks are over, tipsy/sleepy/not paying attention as they may well be after an exciting day and too much fairy floss.  I think I replaced it three times last year, so I have some backup bunting already in hand, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Happy show!  Happy springtime!


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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Sewing