A blog about things I like

If you are interested in quilting, patchwork, children's literature and books in general, you've come to the right blog.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Characters: Blob (wears a blob on tshirt)
Circle (needs a ball, wears a circle on shirt)
Square (needs to look like a nerd, has a square on shirt)
Triangle (needs to carry a triangle, has a triangle on shirt)
Supershape (has a blank shirt)

Blob is standing sad and lonely centre stage.

B: I am a blob. Nobody likes me. I have no friends. Boy I wish I had someone to play with. All the other shapes are good at stuff but I am just a blob

In comes a Circle, bouncing a basketball. Circle seems rather hyperactive. He does a few tricks bouncing around the blob and then notices the blob

C: hey, I’m a circle, I like round things, like this ball, see?!
(emphasises the circle on his shirt and does a few more tricks)
B:wow that’s cool.
C: I was going to go and shoots some hoops, you wanna come?
B: um, really?! Sure!
C: let’s just see if you’ve got what it takes. Can you do this?!
(C Bounces ball under his leg and spins it around on finger. B tries and fails. Ball rolls away and C says scathingly:
C: no sorry mate you  can’t play. See you round like a fruitloop (runs off chasing the ball)
B I really am a Blob. See I told you nobody likes me.
In walks the square with pants held high, glasses, pocket protector etc. He is using a calculator and does not notice the blob until he bumps into him.
S: oh! I did not see you there. I am a square, who are you?
B: I’m just a blob.
S: well, we were thinking of going to Campbelltown Square to do some Square dancing, You wanna come?
B: Um, really!? Sure that would be awesome!
S Let’s just see if you have the moves…
(S shows the Blob how to do a heel and toe polka type dance. The blob stuffs it up and is really unco)
S: Gee, you’re embarrassing. We can’t dance with you! Gotta go (scurries off in a nerdy way looking at the calculator again)
Blob looks miserable
B: I don’t think I will ever have any friends. Nobody likes me.
Enter the triangle. Triangle looks very proud and groovy and holds aloft a triangle. She is so busy looking at the triangle that she does not notice the blob until she almost bumps into her.
T: oh sorry! I did not see you there. I was just admiring my triangle, isn’t it just the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen!?
B: yes, it is very nice
T: say, we are one member short in my triangle trio this afternoon, would you be able to join us?
B: oh really?! That is so cool, I would love to play. Thank you!
T: how about you have a go and see if you’ve got what it takes! Just hold this and ting here  like this (ting)
B takes the triangle but is very frustrated because he holds onto the side and it keeps going thunk instead of ting. T takes triangle away and looks disgusted.
T: sorry buddy you just can’t play the triangle. Don’t give up though, maybe you can play if you keep practising!?
(T wanders off, tinging on her triangle. Poor Blob starts to cry. He is crying so much he does not notice that someone has appeared wearing NO SHAPE on his shirt. The supershape comes  up to the blob. He taps the blob on the shoulder
B:Go away!! (sobs) I’m a loser. You don’t want to come near me
SS: Yes I do, what’s up!?
B: Nobody loves me, I am useless! First the circle said I could play but I was hopeless so he wouldn’t be my friend. Then the square said I could dance with him but I just kept tripping and he said I was embarrassing. Then the triangle said I could join her band but I just couldn’t do it right and she wouldn’t let me. I’m a failure (sobs) I don’t fit in with the circle, the square or the triangle! So just go away and leave me alone.
SS: hey! I will play with you! It doesn’t matter about what shape you are, I want to hang out with you anyway.
(Blob and SS do a happy handshake type thing and go off to play tag or whatever)


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Queenie the Bantam

Recently I took my students on camp, which meant two three hour bus rides, so I had a look around for the perfect knitting project - not too complicated because I'm really only a beginner knitter but hard enough to keep me interested.
Last year I stumbled upon a news story about chooks knitted for the kids in Strathewen, a town in Victoria which was severely affected by the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009.

I thought I'd like to try knitting a chook.

The winterwood toy shop sells kits, but I thought I'd try and find some wool locally.
The pattern showed Up in the mail, and I discovered I needed "worsted weight" wool, which Captain Google tells me is the equivalent of ten ply. Eight ply is the most common in Australia, so it was a bit of a challenge to find the right stuff. Because Queenie is felted, it needed to be "hand wash only" pure wool, not the more modern wool which can be machine washed.

My local friendly wool shop "the Crafty Frog" had just what I needed - a hank of hand dyed NZ merino, from "creative outlet" and it was on special too! Since it was only eight ply I used smaller needles than the pattern specified. I was assured that Queenie would be the same proportions but a bit smaller than the pattern, and that was fine by me. The colour is Ladybug and it is a purple-red.
I think I bought the last hank at Crafty Frog, so I don't feel bad about directing you to an online source.

Mum helped me cast on (see, I told you I was a beginner) and I soon found out I'd need Captain Google to help with the stitches. I learned how to wrap and turn - this was needed for all the shaping, I learned how to cast off at the end of a row and cast on again, I learned to increase by knitting in the front and back of a stitch and also how to "make 1" by picking up the bar below a stitch and dragging it onto the left needle. One thing I was a bit scared of was picking up stitches along the finished edge of the tail. You see the tail is knitted in two pieces, then those are joined together by casting them off at the same time. Then the long edge of the tail gets some more stitches cast onto it and the knitting heads off in a different direction to form the body. It took a bit to get my brain wrapped around this, and I had to knit the zig zag section of the tail piece several times because I kept getting distracted at archery and putting the zig zags on the wrong side.

The wool was lovely to knit with, by the way, I would love to knit a larger project with this stuff.
Queenie was finished in no time, and I made an orange peel shaped segment to sew onto her base. 
I needed two more wool colours for the comb, wattle and beak so I went to Stitch'n Time in Phillip and asked the two friendly knitting shop ladies what they'd recommend. I ended up with some tapestry wool, which had to be doubled since it was rather thin. 
Here she is hot off the needles.
She went into the wash tied up in a pillowcase to catch any stray bits of fluff.
I set the machine to 95 degrees and took her out after 20 minutes or so. The tapestry wool didn't shrink quite so much as the main wool, so I gave it an extra bit of a massage with some soap to get it to felt some more, then put her back in the washing machine.

When she was felted, I stuffed her with newspaper so she'd keep her shape while she dried in the sun.
I'm really happy with how she turned out. I need to find some stuffing for her, and add some baby friendly eyes. I'm going to give her to my nephew Eric for his first Easter. Oh, and her name is Queenie after a book called "Queenie the Bantam" by Bob Graham.....she's only a small chooky after all.  In the story Queenie follows a little girl home and puts herself to bed in the dog's basket. Here's a page from the book:
Here is my chook awaiting her eyes and stuffing
I might make her little chickies too if I can find some yellow wool. I hope Eric loves her as much as I do!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Summer happenings

I have had some holidays from my day job, so for the last few weeks I have been working pretty much full time on my Etsy shop. I signed up for a market in January and I wanted to have lots of stock, so I started sewing rompers.

2015 is the year of working smarter, not harder, so I organised myself in advance to create a batch of 20 rompers.
First, I pulled out my collection of vintage sheets and fabrics, and added a few which were left over from various projects.

I cut out all the rompers on my ironing board, while watching "firefly". To avoid confusion, I immediately pinned a label on each one with its size and how many more could be made from that fabric.

Then I spent several hours overlocking all of the rompers and then ironing all of them.
Once that was done I started to work on one of them at a time. I sewed casings in matching thread, inserted elastic and finally added matching bias binding ties. I did all the red ones and then all the green ones, and so on in order to minimise time winding bobbins and changing thread etc.

As soon as each one was finished, I snapped a photo and listed it in my shop, www.bananaorangeapple.com This slowed things down a little bit, but in a good way, because people kept buying rompers online! If there was a whole sheet, then I listed a quantity of three or four and let the customer choose what size they wanted when they checked out. They are selling well, and so far have gone to Mexico, Canada, Norway, USA, as well as Australia. Someone from Spain bought one then came back later and bought a second one!  It makes me very happy thinking about my sewing ending up all around the world.

The pattern is from this Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/listing/157703815/pretty-baby-romper-pdf-sewing-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_9 but I altered it a bit to include elastic along the neckline and bias binding shoulder ties. It's really easy to sew and I highly recommend it.

I also made a few nappy covers, since I realise boys need clothes too! I am looking out for a good boy romper pattern to use in the future.

I also have plans afoot for a winter line of pinafores (or as they call them in the States - Jumpers) made from corduroy with cute appliques on the front and bright lining. It is lots of fun thinking up the appliques! I do intend to use the same streamlined sewing process to simplify things. I plan to use my new (to me) Elna press to put on the fusible web on the back of the appliques and avoid gumming up my iron. And I understand it's pretty cold over in North America so I hope I can get them in my shop soon.

So I set off today on a mission to find some more sheets to cut up, since the rompers are still in production and I will need lots of fabric to line the winter pinafores. I visited five op-shops around town, but sadly there were no suitable sheets. I did come across some lovely seersucker in gelati colours, and some gorgeous chunky purple corduroy. This did not photograph very well, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

I also like to update my work wardrobe, so I found myself three skirts. They were more than I usually like to pay ($9 each!!!!) but I love them so much I had to have them. I took a photo for you, as well as a close up of the groovy fabrics.  There is one with big houses. I was so excited when I got it home I noticed the selvage had been left in a- and the fabric is the famous Marimekko brand from Finland. Whacka-doo!! It was made in Darwin by Raw Cloth, I tried to find their website but I think it's just a brand that sells at the markets up there. It'll look great with my red sandals.

There was also a lovely fine cotton with red and brown batik - the fabric is silky like lawn.
It has three tiers and the waist band is sewn directly onto elastic, so I think it is homemade.

Finally, an amazingly cute blue skirt with a map print showing streets, houses and trees. Bits of it are embroidered in aqua thread.

So here they are for your perusal, which one do you like the best? Leave a comment if you like

PS please ignore dopey facial expressions, and it is very humid here this afternoon which means my hair is fluffy...

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Summer Skirt

Hello, Summer is here in Australia and I would love to show you my latest skirt. This one is custom made for a lady who wanted red at the hem, I usually have purple on the lowest layer but this turns out to be equally fabbo.
Here are some gratuitous model shots my daughter took for me down at Lake Tuggeranong. The last photo shows my photographer up a tree!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Thinking of spring


I've been thinking of spring lately . We've had a run of freezing cold weather,and it is hard to get up and out the door when it's still below zero in the morning. Still I'm glad that I live in a place with four distinct seasons. The majority of Australia does not.
Here are some photos of my town I found on Flickr.
Btw I had my clothesline installed today, I'm so happy I'm gonna celebrate by washing the sheets on the weekend. Hoping for a lovely fine windy day to get them dry!  




The view across the lake to the National Arboretum


There are lots of things I love about Canberra, but the thing I love best is you don't have to go far at all to see views like this. We are surrounded by nature and beautiful mountains. It's the best place on Earth (well, it's at least up in the top ten, maybe)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Winter morning

Here's the view up my driveway on a winter morning. It's nice that the sun is rising earlier and earlier each day. Waking up in the darkness is no fun. No frost today, a light misty rain is wafting through the air. 

On the right are some boulders that form part of the retaining wall we've had built. That buldgy bit is a turning circle. Eventually we plan to place a focal point there, either a giant concrete tub full of plants or a pile of boulders. 

Here is another winter's morning. My dog has decided that I must have mulched this garden bed beside the garage with Lucerne hay just for her. Actually, there are white ground cover roses in there that I moved over from near the house. She thinks it's  a great spot to sunbake in the mornings, and I Anticipate the roses will do much better in that position. There's an agapanthus in between each of the roses.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

My favourite podcasts

I love listening to podcasts while I sew. If you know of any good ones, please leave a comment and let me know what you love about them!
You can listen to podcasts on a tablet, ipad, smart phone or just on the computer. I have provided links for you to the iTunes Store but I'm not sure if they will work for you cos I use Australian iTunes.

My absolute number all time best ever favourite comes out every Friday and I look forward to it every week, it's called "Confessions with Simon Mayo". It's a radio show on BBC radio2. Simon Mayo reads out four hilarious "confessions" that audience members have sent in, and then a panel decides whether the person is deserving of forgiveness. It really is a hoot. There are many tales of parents playing tricks on their kids, workplace misdemeanours, holiday hijinks - really there is nothing else out there quite as funny, at least, to my warped sense of humour.

Here's an example.
One family on holiday in Scotland. The dad told the kids in the backseat "see those sheep up on the hill? Those are haggis. They have two short legs on the uphill side and two longer legs on the downhill side, so they don't roll down the hill." Of course mum and dad were winking at each other and holding back the giggles unbeknownst to the kids in the back.
Fast forward a few months and the kid's at school. The teacher says  "can anyone tell the class what a haggis is?" Of course, you guessed it, her hand shot up and she told everyone about the wonkylegged Scottish sheep that are bred specially so they don't roll down hills. 
You can imagine what embarrassment that caused the poor child.... 

Another of my favourite is "Stuff you should know."
This is highly educational. A different topic each week and I have learned about so many amazing parts of our world that I would never bother reading about. The hosts Chuck and Josh do an excellent job. Many of their episodes are US centric though.

"Stuff you missed in history class" is also good and along similar lines. I do find the voices of the hosts ever so slightly annoying, but I still want to listen and learn and find the show very interesting.

"Saw bones" is a newish podcast, hosted by a married couple, the McElroys. The wife is a doctor and the husband is  a bit of a doofus, he pretends to want to know about all sorts of ailments. They explain the history of the treatment of that disease or problem by the medical profession through the ages. It's gory. I love it. It's a bit like the segment on "horrible histories" where the Egyptian doctor tries to treat a modern patient using ancient techniques. It's very funny and easy to listen to.

"Dr Karl" is a weekly radio segment on Triple J (Australia wide youth radio station run by the ABC) about science, it's a talkback show so people dial in and ask Dr Karl questions. People ask the weirdest questions. He has a twitter feed too which is a hive of information.
Disclaimer: Dr Karl is an evolutionist so his answers come from that world view but I still find his show informative and fun to listen to. For example, if someone rang up to ask "why do we have armpit hair?" Dr Karl would most likely reply that it is because we are descended from apes. Personally I don't get all het up about that kind of thing - I would say well, you might be an apeman but speak for yourself! 

"A history of the world in 100 objects" from the BBC was awe inspiring and marvellous - I was very sad when I got up to the one hundredth object and then there were no more. Each episode featured a different object from the British Museum and together they make a massive timeline of the entire history of humanity. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/ 

For Christian history I enjoyed listening to "Communio Sanctorum" which is a weekly podcast on church history.  

I like to listen to Chuck Missler preaching his way through the Bible in "66/40" but for this one I tend to tune out and miss too much if I'm sewing, so it's one for when I'm listening properly. If I can't sleep st night I put this on and zzzzzzzzzzzz. Out like a light.
I figure if I'm listening to Bible teaching in my sleep I must be absorbing some by osmosis, right?

For a while I listened to many and various quilting podcasts but I gave up on those, they got boring after a while. And they made me want to take on more quilting than I could ever possibly get done in one lifetime!