Thursday, September 29, 2011


One in the morning is a perfectly reasonable time to get up and do some sewing and blogging, isn't it? That or nothing this week. I did buy some more sheets (errr yes. Cheap.) from the Sallies and St Vincent de Paul. Those Catholics have expensive sheets. Three whole dollars vs the Sallies only charging $2. So I've made up the bodice of the Colette Crepe dress in a plain yellow, using my new pattern piece for the front with an FBA and adjusted neckline. I pinned down the sides and tried it on and indeed it looks like the adjustments work. Hurray hurray hurray. I don't have enough fabric for the skirt as well, but I did buy some sheets which I think complement the yellow fabric and so this time the skirt will be a contrasting colour. I am getting faster at sewing. Once, the bodice would have taken a week of evenings. This time round, I think my blood pressure is even stable when I sew darts. Other blogging sewists have suggested they would fully line the bodice on a second project for this dress, removing the faff of hand sewing down the flapping facings. I'm thinking of doing that, assuming I have enough yellow fabric for that and the long sash tie, but I wonder how to include the interfacing for the neckline and armholes? I'm loving the sewing as something which doesn't have a big deadline and can be fitted in in tiny bits at weird times of the day and night.

The Blackball care workers' project is on again. So I've been rushing around doing that, writing up sections of it by the side of the pool while the kids do their swimming lessons and in a snatched and lovely moment with cake and wine at Jones's while Fionn was at martial arts last night. Earlier today (yesterday I suppose) I interviewed the wonderful Brenda for the exhibition. Brenda is our old neighbour and a very dedicated and capable carer who cared for her parents for many years, worked at an old people's home as activities coordinator, worked for IHC and is now working for PACT. In her spare time, she also works for the Home to Home project, providing respite care for young people with special needs. Denise and I are hoping to get that written up, done and dusted as soon as possible. I have flagged up very clearly to the group that I am resigning after the exhibition. I'm not housewife and mother of the year, but I do take my responsibilities to actually feed my family six nights per week seriously, and fitting in work and the exhibition is making everything else late and stressed.

The chooks are doing great. My fears about a rat have been allayed. Actually, the chooks are laying a treat, but they do like to scatter the straw over the eggs and sometimes they are hard to find.

Tomorrow (which could be today, but I am planning on going back to sleep), is a Mummy Day. I plan on ringfencing it for things with Brighid and not the exhibition. I'm already quite good at not doing anything to do with paid work on a Thursday. We will probably start the post-9am day with reading some Milly Molly Mandy. I'm on the lookout for some pink and white fabric to make a Milly Molly Mandy dress, possibly for Brighid or for her best friend whom we recently introduced to MMM, for one of their birthdays. Maybe it is cute overload, but I did fancy the idea of a MMM book from Trademe with a pink and white dress as a lovely birthday present for an awesome girl when she turns five...

Do you think the sun will shine tomorrow? Please? Yes I will do some washing but really truly and utterly, Brighid and I would like to garden. I think she wants to make play dough, which I promise, weather gods, that I will do as well as the garden bit....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Runaway Hug

My favourite picture book at the moment is The Runaway Hug. The blurbs don't show the best bit which is the illustrations. The story is sweet but I love how the house is messy and that is just normal.

I've been looking at my garden with a new eye since I read Dennis Greville's Colourful Gardens. He talks about restful colours with red rather than the full on drama of red and yellow which I had been planning for the red fence garden. I have since noticed how the yellow looks good against the old mustard fence.

I don't have a photo of the blue borage and the globe artichokes together, but the silvery foliage of the artichokes and the blue-purple of the borage would be the perfect gentle foil for our dramatic red fence. Given the self seeding proclivity of the borage and the ease of division of the globe artichokes, it will be labour with no financial cost to create my new red fence garden vista. When it stops raining.

Amongst the parenting today, did I clean the house? Not likely. I did laundry and food and laundry and food has to be enough. I did a little more sewing. Brighid's dress is relatively uninteresting to me compared to the endless thinking about version 2 of the Colette Crepe dress. With my Fit for Real People open beside the pattern pieces, I carefully made an FBA on the bodice after all. I am going to do another sheet version, with at least the bodice in this fabric:
Instant transportation to 1975? Actually it reminds me of the 1980s, because when I was a kid, we weren't sleeping in recently bought, highly fashionable sheets, but the ones from Mum's glory box and Mum and Dad's wedding presents from the very early 1970s. Although this is an op shop find, it still makes me think of a summer night down at the Tahuna camping ground when I was a little girl and we visited family friends there and stayed up all-the-way-to-midnight (We lived the high life we did, what with Brownies and Mass and school all in one week nearly every single week of 1979). If the new version works out well, then I shall look at buying brand new fabric to make a serious dress in. We shall not talk about if it does not work out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The finished Colette Crepe

Do you see that? For the first time ever in my entire life, I have finished sewing a dress for myself. This is the Colette Crepe dress and the fabric comes from two rather thin but lovely sheets from the Salvation Army op shop right here in Wetville. I highly recommend sheets for sewing this frock given it uses almost five metres of fabric. It was a bit cold for wearing in summer mode this morning, so there is a t shirt and leggings underneath.

The dress is quite wearable but not quite the right fit. What I really want is to make a dress that I can wear to work. I had cut a size 16 straight from the packet after much umming, ahhing and endless reading of blog reports by other people who have sewed this dress. Actually, if I had listened to many of them, I would have downsized, but I fear the dress too small more than the dress too large. It is a little big all over but the wrap function hides that effectively. The front darts are strange. They are so long that they completely cover the bust apex and there is a baggy piece about five centimetres north of my actual bust apex which is presumably where my boobs lived in my extreme youth. So today I got out my tracing paper and traced off the front bodice piece. I've cut a 14 with much shortened horizontal and vertical darts. I've resisted the temptation to lower the horizontal dart as some blogger sewists reported that this mucked up the armhole sizing. I have also lowered the neckline by 4 centimtres. That still creates a modest neckline by my calculations. Now I am eyeing up my other sheets (all single sheets with only one of each pattern) to make another dress. Five metres' worth of complementary fabric is a lot to find.

This sheet is my favourite, but it is going to be hard to find something to match it for the skirt part.
No go. I think the dress is too curvy for the geometric sheet, and the other green is too thin.
Impossible to match. A bit on the large side print-wise.These aren't sheets but some lovely gifted linen/cotton mix fabric (thank you Susan!). I have enough for the skirt part with these two together, but I think white linen/cotton for the top is the only matching option and the combo would create something pretty but very easily creased and probably not as figure accommodating/flattering as I would prefer. I think I will turn this into a skirt later on instead. Probably Simplicity 2451 which I already own, but it would need lining, which is a skill I've not yet got to...

While I was wearing my dress and gearing up for making a new, changed Colette Crepe, I began making Brighid a dress - Simplicity 2989. Also from a sheet. Two pink patterned sheets, with a contrasting pattern on the bib part. I think the pink patterned sheet fabric looks great on kids. Not so on me. I've stopped sewing for today though. When I realised I had sewn the wrong sides together for Brighid's dress, I took that as time to stop. Today I did try out cutting on the kitchen table with weights (jars of anchovies actually) instead of pinning the pattern to the fabric and cutting on the lounge floor. Much much speedier and easier on my back.

That's it. There is garden news, but that can wait for another post. Just as well I'm upskilling on making clothes out of sheets. Now that flour bags are made of paper instead of fabric, we'll have to sew clothes out of something else once the economy falls apart completely. The Guardian Weekly arrived today and I'm bewildered as to how the US, which almost defaulted not many days ago, can flood the market with its dollars to avert a crisis if Greece defaults. How does the US have those dollars if they almost couldn't pay their social security and wages obligations last month?

I'm off to bed now with The Colour of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe. I haven't left the house at all today, and neither have FH or the children. It has been wonderful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Milly Molly Mandy, Thomas the Tank Engine and Feilicty Kendal

Hmmmm. I wonder if we have a rat(s) stealing eggs. I've been googling possible solutions.

The nice garden seedlings man was over from Blenheim again today. We bought snow peas, celery and more polyanthus.

Milly Molly Mandy still has some appeal. Though if I read her as often as I read the complete stories of Thomas the Tank Engine, my enthusiasm could fade. The pastoral idyll is not confined to the adult market. I wonder, if The Good Life had been real, what Felicity Kendall would write about her life now? I do feel sure she would have left Tom eventually.

I cut two more pieces of skirt for the Colette Crepe dress. That is because I didn't read the instructions properly the first time. The weather was so sublime today that black and purple seemed rather sombre after all. The weather for wearing a summer dress is now on the horizon.

I have had only three glass of wine in ten days. Eight of those days were alcohol free.

Tomorrow is green prescription exercise class. Apparently I will hurt after this one.

That is it. They are the bits which aren't paid work or normal run of the mill feeding and haranguing of children. Those people who wonder about the perfection of lives on blogs do have an alternative: be bored by how little I have to share.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Juggle jiggle

It's time to resign.
Not from parenting.
Not from paid work.
Not from blogging or gardening or sewing.
Not from cooking or cleaning.
Not from doing the night shift with poorly and nightmare-spooked children.
Not from the Green Prescription exercise class which I actually liked.
Not from spending time with my elderly cousin.
Not from daughter stuff, especially given Dad has an operation coming up.

But it is time to face the fact that I can not fit the Blackball working class history project into my life. I'm waiting on an email from my co-curator for the care workers' exhibition and then I will decide whether to resign immediately or as soon as the exhibition is completed. It hasn't been an easy decision but it is the only tenable one.

So. Yesterday I sewed. I ignored all other claims upon my time and worked on my crepe dress. I reached that amazing pinnacle of multi-tasking which is that I could sew while the children were chatting or playing around me. I remember reading online of people sewing around their very young children and lacking any clue how that could work. Were my children the only ones drawn magnetically to my foot as I pressed the accelerator pedal? Did these other people not have tiny fingers creeping around to the pin tin almost constantly? How did they actually think while they warded off invasion?

But finally my children have gotten big enough and I did sew while they hung out in the same building, sometimes even the same room. It was good therapy for a week in which 'hectic' and 'sleepless' featured as a losing combo far too often. I have cut the fabric for the Colette Crepe and sewn the bodice. The fabric is a blue and white sheet and I think the bodice shows I cut a size too big. The pattern says that Colette sizing is snug and in between sizes should go up a size. So I did and cut a straight 16. Only many of the reviews say quite the opposite and it turns out they are right. Because it is a wrap top I should be able to wrap it to fit, but I will cut a 14 in the shoulders at the very least next time. Also, the bust and waist darts go up and over/across the bust apex, which seems a little odd. My current thoughts are to cut a 14 and to make the darts shorter on version 2. Assuming I get to a version 2, which would be a very good idea given I paid $33 for the pattern. Some time this week I shall finish the skirt part and get the first version to wearable stage, if the sewing gods shine down upon me with sun rather than rain.

There is an asparagus shoot in the garden. This has never happened before. I am slowly learning to put my most expensive and longest investment plants in the spots of best sun and drainage. Slowly.

I learned yesterday that if I start to make hummous and then find there are no ripe lemons of limes anywhere on the property or in the house, then apple cider vinegar will make a perfectly reasonable alternative.

I'm not spending a lot of time with cooking books lately, but just for idle pleasure, I read Elizabeth David's Summer Cooking while I ate my lunch today. I've not made a single one of her recipes ever, but I think her books are worth owning for the prose alone. On decorating platters for a buffet: "You are, after all, preparing a meal, not decorating the village hall."

Garden progress. Asparagus as aforementioned. We have eaten green and purple broccoli from the garden this week. The kale continues to sprout and flower, but we continue to eat the leaves which still taste good. I've weeded out the russian kale from the red mesclun. Russian kale grows to an enormous and rather bland-tasting size. The word 'tree' was not inappropriate last time I grew russian kale. I am planning on letting the bulls blood beetroot grow to eat the roots, and the giatn red mustard to go to seed as I would like to grow more of it in future. There appears to be mint growing again down in the bog garden by the neighbour's rusting and not quite falling down fence. Only it doesn't taste of mint. What is the point of that? Time to rehome the rhubarb and grow mint there instead. Leeks are ready to eat in the garden. So is cornsalad, which grows like a weed. But it is rather tasteless. I much prefer miners lettuce, which is taking over part of the herb garden. It is keeping the area around the bay tree moist, which I think is not so good for the bay tree. So much to learn. Not everything likes to exist in higgledy piggledy cottage garden style.

I love the red cyclamen. It gives me pleasure every single day. Blood red cyclamen. I am on the lookout for more. The pink primulas are doing nicely as well. I might boost their numbers as well. Why are these plants looking so good? Well you might ask. I believe it is because they are not regularly assaulted by a rugby or league or soccer ball.

We had our first double yolker egg of the season at breakfast this morning. Interestingly given their identical diet, one of my breakfast eggs was yellow and the other quite distinctly orange. These were separate whites. Two different colours within a double yolker would be too bizarre indeed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Obesity (yawn) epidemic: what about changed work patterns?

I'm part way through making Simplicity 6951, a child's top/very short dress which in the pattern is accompanied by matching frilly pants and a hat. The pattern was published in 1975 and comes from my Mum's collection. Given the date, I imagine I wore a version of this ensemble as a kindy girl.The fabric is darker in the photo than in reality, but even so, it is quite a dark print for Brighid. The top is reversible and the grey with mushrooms fabric of the pockets is the lining/reverse dress fabric. I'm hoping to press out a lot of the puckering around the armpits and neckline, but if not, then at least I'll learn something more about handling these shapes.

I bought the fabric in a sewing shop in Ilford, Essex, in 2003. It's taken a while to use it... I have a bit more of the lining fabric left. Rather than the frilly knickers, I might make some longer style shorts if there is sufficient fabric. I am, slowly, reducing the fabric & mending piles and creating some order in my part of the study.

On a different tangent, I read for the zillionth time this week about the obesity epidemic and how the world is about to implode under the increased weight of its wealthy, minority world citizens. I have no problem with the touting of the usual culprits of fast food and a loss of home cooking skills. But why do those articles never ever mention changing work patterns? When my grandparents were young, working class men did performed labour intensive, calorie burning jobs. Working class women washed clothes and houses without automatic washing machines or vacuum cleaners. Now, many people are unemployed and the gadgets available to clean a house and tackle laundry mountains make relatively light effort of the jobs. Just saying...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Green Prescription

A while ago a couple of friends mentioned an exercise class they were going to. When it came up in conversation again, it turned out it was a Green Prescription class. Which got me thinking, because I had imagined that Green Prescriptions were for people with lots more barriers to exercise than me. But not so. Busy Mums who are a bit plump and not very fit at running (as differentiated from making lunches, listening to the radio, organising breakfasts, mediating disputes and checking on short people's getting dressed progress ALL AT ONCE, which we are very fit at) may also qualify.

So I make an appointment and about a month later I actually get to see the doctor and I explain that I heard about this programme and as I am fat and unfit, I thought I too might qualify.

Doctors are BMI country. I'm not so into BMI myself, but if you want a freebie, then needs must. I nearly disputed her technique of getting me to leave my shoes on for the scales and to take them off for the height measurement. Only I bit my tongue just in time because y'know, the point of all this is to get categorised as sufficiently fat. You could be skinny and be as unfit as me, but whatever, focus on the freebie bit.

Today I had my interview with Michael, the Green Prescription coordinator. He was very nice and asked me what my typical day involved. He was dead impressed with my busy-ness by the time I'd gotten to 9am in the morning. Um that is what working and having children looks like of a morning, nothing very unique. But we established that my biggest barrier to physical exercise was time. I do get time to myself in the evening, time to read or sew or blog or surf the net, but it isn't physical activity time.

So this Wednesday I start doing some exercises in a room above the pub. Given that I go at 9am and have to work later in the day, I should be safe from the temptation to go to the pub afterwards.

At the supermarket tonight I bought some gladioli for summer flowering. It is the one pictured above, called Irish Blessing. I think I shall plant them in a big pot so I can move them round to where I see them most. It is fashionable amongst greenies to eschew the supermarket, and I've done just that for chunks of the last decade. But right now, I LOVE the supermarket. I love that it is open until 9pm so I can go down at 8.30pm and buy breakfast food and prevent early morning disaster all. by. myself. It's cheaper that way. Or, put another way, the treat is gladioli bulbs instead of Snow White tissues. Better value for the mother.

Food. Whether I feel like cooking it, or growing it, or buying it, people keep on getting hungry. Not long ago my children turned an excellent display of good fortune. They were asked to draw the numbers out for the meat raffle at the pub and Brighid drew out our friend's number and Fionn drew out FH's number. Since then, we've had sausages, beef swirls and now loin chops from the meat pack. the loin chops were good. I might buy them again. Next is some cross cut steak. I feared recreating the charred chops of my childhood and I recoiled from the cost of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's recipe for loin chops, so I marinated them in garlic and rosemary and olive oil and grilled them for dinner tonight. They turned out pretty good. Last night I made latke. Three people liked them. Three people is good.

Laundry. It's rather like death and taxes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Girl with Curves

Clothes stuff. That seems to be my main evening interest at the moment. Just for my own personal record really...
1. I have nearly finished the night shirt. I shortened it a lot compared to the last one. Looking at it unhemmed, I think I will make pyjama bottoms for it and it can be a long pj top with bottoms for the coldest nights and the nightshirt can work alone when it is warm.
2. I was thinking about cardies the other day? This looks useful:
It is McCalls 6408 and is apparently easy to sew. Not just now, but maybe after I've sewn the Colette Crepe. I suspect I'll have to buy fabric outside of Wetville for it. I like the red version. Indeed, I would like a red version myself.
3. The Colette Crepe pattern arrived. Gotta get the night shirt jammy bottoms made up so I can sew the big spring project. The instructions do look very accessible.
4. Found a blog called Girl with Curves. Tanesha Awasthi is totally gorgeous and what makes her blog appeal to me is that I look at her outfits and think I could and would wear some of them. Not so for almost all clothing/fashion shoots/displays.
This is an example from her blog. I think she'd love the fit opportunities which sewing would open up.
5. Much of the appeal of sewing at the moment is that it is a break from my paid work. It has taken me years to consciously realise that September is the busiest time of my working year. I appreciate beyond words my kind friend Carolyn who looked after my children this afternoon so I could go to work. Meeting deadlines is a good thing.
6. Books. I don't know. I think it is time I started reading again. Can't sew until past bedtime and read more than the odd magazine though.
7. Chooks. The egg numbers are improving, but this morning there were two soft shelled eggs again. Two firm shelled eggs as well and I am taking care to provide lots of grit. I've been googling and starting tomorrow I shall add apple cider vinegar to their water, something I've known about doing before but been slack about regularly adding it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain? bah, rainCOAT.

I spent today in the garden. In a week where I've barely been at home, today was wonderful. Thursdays are Mummy Days for Brighid and I, each one particularly precious as next year she will be flying off to school five days per week. After a stint of grocery and chook food shopping, we came home and, ignoring the rain, dug and sowed, transplanted and de-stoned. I buried two buckets of bokashi, cut back some really overgrown lemon thyme and sage. Interesting to see how the sage propogates of its own accord by layering. I transplanted the seedlings I bought last week (various Asian greens + cavole nero + beetroot + primulas) and I sowed peas, carrots, beetroot and alyssum. Brighid helped with the transplanting and the de-stoning of two gardens which are far too stony. I was crouched with bent knees this time, but de-stoning always reminds me of when I was pregnant with Brighid. First she was transverse and then she was breech. Given that I wanted a home birth, I had a huge incentive to get my daughter to turn head down and I wasn't keen on the scrubbing of floors so every day I filled a bucket of stones from the garden on my hands and knees. She turned.

A freesia peeping through the miners lettuce.
This used to be the strawberry patch and then it was going to be the super spuds experiment, but now it is the kale-chinese cabbage-pak choy bed.

I pick salad leaves from this patch at least once every day and still it grows lusciously. My favourite variety from the simply red mesclun mix which is part of this photo (along with tat soi and rocket) is red mustard, so I am letting some of that go to seed.
Tat soi in flower.
Our very own broccoli. The funny bubbles on top are rain drops.

Primulas in the front garden. There is still a lot of work to be done on this strip, but colour is infinitely better than no colour, and I like the pink and white together. Eventually I would like just red and white here, but pink and white is good for the time being.

I've also been sewing. I have finally worked out a way that my sewing machine can handle knits, or some knits anyway. I set the tension lower and the stitches closer together and the zigzag on 2 ('5' is the sharpest angled zig zag stitch) and it worked. So I finished the skirt I had cut out months ago and sewed red ric rac to the hem. I like the ric rac but the fabric of the skirt is irredeemably awful. It was cheap and that polyester shinyness is way uglier made up than I naively imagined in the shop.

Last night I began a nightshirt for me using yellow-orange-brown floral sheet from the Sallies. I've reduced the size from the last time I made this but it still looks rather enormous. Then tonight I paused on the nightshirt to make a bag for Fionn's friend's ninth birthday which is tomorrow.

Earlier this week Brighid and I went op shopping for the pure pleasure of not going home and doing jobs. I found a top which I haven't photographed but a blue cardy which I have. Since Patty the Snug Bug became my new sewing and style guru starting last week, and I skimmed through Trinny and Susannah's Body Shape Bible in the library recently, I have, for the first time ever, decided that cardies (the kind which go in at the waist) could be a flattering thing. I thought I might be a cello but when I looked at the detail in the Body Shape Bible book, I decided I was an hourglass after all. Not that I agreed with everything they said and there is an hourglass photo in a dress with overflowing cleavage which isn't a look I aim to reproduce, but Patty the Snug Bug, she is a better guru because she sews and is not super skinny like T & S.
I think I do like the belted cardy overall, though in an ideal scenario, the slopey shoulder aspect would be altered somehow. The cardy has a nice feel to wear, but it is almost all acrylic. I've sworn off knitting any more cardigans of any description for me, but maybe I could make a belted jacket/cardy like the one above out of merino fabric? Buying new stuff that I like in wool is toooooo expensive.

Out in the big wide world, I am having great difficulty with reading even small parts of the reporting on the Royal Commission into the Pike River deaths. The stark evidence that it was avoidable is worse than awful.

On a more positive note, Reading the Maps manages to begin a post linking to that blasted oval ball frenzy which is sweeping New Zealand on an even worse scale than usual, and then launch into a very interesting report on Pacific languages and an interview with Vaughan Rapatahana. I When I fell for Auckland, where Reading the Maps is based, what I really fell for was the Pasifika culture. For a small town South Island girl, living in Auckland and working within a multicultural and mostly Pacific Islanders setting was like moving to another country without needing a passport. I could happily live and work in that multicultural setting again, but I would not happily give up our 1/5 acre section near the beach for a tiny crossleased flat in a far away suburb which would cost us way way more than our current home.

I have avoided pinterest. I do have quite enough distractions. Although I am sworn off large knitting projects, this Faultline scarf looks most attractive. I'm not allowed to buy it or look seriously at wool until I have finished the doll's pinafore and that is a long way off on current performance.

No progress on the care workers' project. I can't concentrate on it until I have finished the huge chunk of paid work which should be done by the middle of next week. Thursday though, they are sacrosanct. I'd rather give up my weekend to do paid work than give up a Mummy Thursday with Brighid.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Sunday

in which I began to deal with this:

a small section of a small room. Another view, in case any orderly readers were not sufficiently shocked by the first photo, is here:

Now that the sun is down, the children asleep and I think there are enough clean clothes to send the four of us into the world tomorrow, I can report that I have cleared one sqaure metre. Leaving the most difficult two square metres remaining. Still. Progress of one kind or another.

Interruptions to the cleaning project centred around Fathers Day and the rugby league breakup. Favourite Handyman had to go to work for much of the day but I took pity on them all and took them to my least favourite shop, the one in the big red building, and they chose gel pens and dora stampers to embellish the cards they then made for their Dad. We took pizza to work to share with FH and then it was time to go to the league breakup, an event involving many many speeches and presentations, artifically coloured fizzy for the kids and alcoholic fizzy for the adults (I abstained. It does happen occasionally.) and the fastest gobbling of a huge feast that I've ever seen. Around our place we don't go for presents on Mothers and Fathers Day, but we do give the special day person a day off dishes/cooking/ironing, which used up the rest of my day.

Except.... I did fit in a little gardening... About six weeks ago we dumped the floor of the poultry palace on the garden first and researched later. So it was only afterwards that I learned that the mixture of wood shavings and chook poo (specifically the wood shavings) was probably leaching nitrogen out of the soil. John at the garden shop suggested sulphate of ammonia when I asked for something to help restore the nitrogen balance. I sprinkled that on a couple of beds and then added a bit of lime and some potting mix for good measure. Then I planted tat soi and spinach in the punga raised bed garden.

Lovely daffs and kale huh? I think I would like to make a daffodils and kale forest throughout all of this garden.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Colour and the Colette Crepe

I've been reading Dennis Greville's book Colourful Gardens and learning more about colour combos in the garden. That should really read 'I am now starting to learn about colour combos in the garden.' As well as thinking about what colours I want where, I've also experimented with where I put flowers ever sine we moved into our home nearly five years ago. At first I chose the places where I thought they would look best. But that wasn't actually where we could see them very often. Now that the daffodils are in flower in the old chook run, looking wonderful against the blue green of the cavolo nero kale, I see that that is the best place. It is the best place because I look that way from the kitchen window a lot. Also at the beginning of our gardening experiments, I didn't bother with the front garden as I figured that was for onlookers and I didn't care about them at all. But now that I've changed my view on the front and planted some flowers, I realise that I look at the front garden every single day as I arrive home. I also realise that the deep red cyclamen which I bought a fortnight ago (and misnamed as a begonia initially) is the most beautiful plant and I want more. No pink or white ones AT ALL, just deep red.

The insomnia project. Most rude of my body to be wide awake in the early hours of the morning a couple of times this week. But I found a project, made good use of my time. I've ordered a sewing pattern all the way from the USA and I've spent a ridiculous amount of time researching it. It is the Colette Crepe pattern and it looks flattering to a curvy figure AND, given it is made of woven fabric rather than a knit one, I think my sewing machine and me can handle it. I was won over by reading that Patty the Snug Bug made hers without any alterations.

I had planned to make a front wrap dress from New Look 6674, but it took me so incredibly long to make the FBA. and then I used a different technique on each side for the dart placement so I can't be sure which one to replicate again, and then there are so many other pieces to be adjusted to match the altered bodice, until I felt tired just thinking about sewing it. Having followed the alterations Patty usually makes to patterns, and read elsewhere that Colette patterns are drafted for a more generous bust than the larger patternmaking companies, I decided that it was worth buying internationally to get a pattern which might fit without a thousand alterations.

When it arrives, I will make it up in an old sheet. I have quite a collection of sheets from the Sallies which I bought for this very purpose. Today's find is a strong contender:

There are some very gorgeous examples of this pattern on the flickr group. One of my favourites is a yellow gingham version from Sew Country Chick. This one is great from the Leopard Anchor. There are some fantastic spotty versions on the flickr group.

Yes I do know that I'm supposed to be doing a lot of other things. But insomnia calls for some relaxing, dreaming kind of projects, not ruthless efficiency.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

chook news

The sun shone and it was time to let the chooks out of the poultry palace. We've had these chooks for a month now, but kept them in the run (5 x 2 metres plus a large laying coop) as they were noticeably more jittery around us than previous chooks. But they have definitely become tamer and I knew the endless green would be good for them.

Hmmmm. They did enjoy being out of the run. They did not want to be caught again. The fifth one took about an hour to catch. Not that I chased her for the entire hour but I did weed the garden and wait and wait and wait until my moment to catch her and boy did she have a lot to say about it when I did gather her up under my arm. I put a pot of seeded salad greens in the run later which they liked. I may have to grow pots of greens to put in the run for them as a supplement for the dock and wandering jew which we pick and poke through the chickenwire. No photos. I was too busy with the problems of reincarceration.

Tonight, the sewing urge hit. I could not face the organisation required to sew properly, the kind of thing I would complete and wear out of the house, but I did sew some bright green knit material into an unhemmed skirt. My friend Ruth gave it to me because her machine wouldn't handle the knit fabric and I doubted mine would not long after. But I was most gratified to discover that when I changed to a ballpoint needle, inserted the needle in the machine properly (learnt I'd been doing it wrong in an article recently) and loosened the tension, I managed a nice tiny zigzag seam without jamming the machine or making the terrible noise while sewing that I started the evening making. The last proper skirt I made turned out very unflattering, even though I like the curtain fabric it is made out of.

I have daffodils, thanks to moving them to a sunny position a fortnight ago. We are usually the last people to have daffodils in bloom even within our suburban stretch, but I love them like they are the first of the season when they do arrive. I see the bluebells are poking their flowerheads up now too.