Archive for February, 2008

A little while ago I won a give away on Kate’s blog. It was a set of Christmas log cabin blocks. This was most fortuitous as the Advent Calendar I was planning to make last year (two weeks before Christmas, with a new baby) for some reason never got done. So this is what I’m thinking.

I’m going to applique ‘Noel’ to the top and bottom of the calendar- can’t see the bottom because the table’s not long enough. Attach the blocks as little pockets and then cross-stitch the numbers above each block.

I’ve started squaring up the blocks, now I just need to fiddle a little to work out the best way of attaching them to the back ground fabric. Suggestions welcome. Please.

In other news, I may never need to buy fabric or yarn again. It seems that my reputation as a crafter is spreading. One of the women who works with us is moving house, she used to sew and knit. She asked if I’d be willing to take her stash off her hands 🙂

She brought the first instalment around on Tuesday. I sorted through the yarn and tried to be as ruthless as possible. The small tangled bits went straight into the bin, and stuff that I didn’t want to knit with has been put aside to go to women who will knit it up for charity; some of it I passed on to a student of mine whose 7 year old daughter is madly french knitting. The rest has gone into the stash. The fabric is washed and is just waiting to be ironed and put away – not all of it is cotton or quilting quality, but I’ll find a use for it I’m sure. I’ll take a picture of that when it’s all folded neatly. Apparently there is more fabric to come. I’m going to need to sew faster!

It’s ironic really, because I am the Anti-Stash. Seriously, when I started quilting I was determined to buy only for the quilt in progress and the next one on the list. I stuck to that pretty well too, I occasionally buy fat quarters ‘just because’, but the majority of fabrics in my storage boxes were either earmarked for use, or leftovers from previous quilts. It seems now that I have a fairly substantial stash. I’m not complaining, because I am rescuing the fabric from the garbage heap, and it’s nice to have fabric to play with when the urge strikes without a trip to the store, but it seems odd to me that I’ve ended up with a stash in the first place.

Well, the child is sleeping, the dishes are done, I’ve finished work for the day and it’s Knitting for Gifts day, so I’m off to work on the sock for Mum, and maybe sneak in a little fabric ironing.

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A few weeks ago Kajsa of Syko fame had a competition to celebrate her 100th post. I was the very lucky winner! 🙂

The package from her arrived yesterday, all the way from Finland (Mum’s Christmas parcel from Australia is still MIA). The prize was this very cute doll

Isn’t she adorable? She’s hanging on the door to the living room, next to the computer desk, where I can look at her often – I’m going to have to give her a name. If you can’t live without one of these little charmers visit Syko’s etsy store and snap one up for yourself. Kajsa included a few other goodies in the package too.

Some Finnish napkins, a postcard designed by her, a very cool quilt pattern and some fabulous fabric scraps to play with. Thank you Kajsa! It made my day.

I’m still plugging away at the hand quilting, but crafting is a little slow this week as I have choir rehearsal every night. We are performing on Saturday. Last year I learnt how to sing in Afrikaans, this time around I’m learning to sing in Xhosa. Xhosa is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa and is the most common language spoken in this area, I find it really difficult because it has clicks in it and my tongue is not used to making those sounds! The choir I’m in is multi-racial though, so there are enough Xhosa speakers to carry the rest of us along.

Both Fliss  and Magik Quilter tagged me for the 7 Random Things about me meme.

1. I was determined never to get married. (Met Gorgeous Man and changed my mind).

2. When I in my teens I used to do a lot of camping and caving. On one expedition I fell 13.5 metres (`40 feet) off a rope ladder as I was climbing out of a cave. The safety equipment designed to stop the fall failed, but it did slow me down enough that someone caught me at the bottom. I had to be winched to safety on a stretcher. I was very lucky, the only injuries were rope burn to my hands and a torn muscle in my chest – it could have been much worse.

3. I am a bit weird with food. If I have baked beans on toast I eat all the beans and then the toast. I eat corn one kernel at a time in a row from left to right and then back again. I thought I was the only person in the world who did this (it drives Gorgeous Man nuts) but I recently saw someone else ‘fess up to this (I can’t remember who though).

4. I don’t like anyone other than Gorgeous Man handling the washing (laundry). I can’t explain why. Speaking of washing when hanging it out on the line the pegs must match.

5. I don’t remember the first time I sang in public – I think I was about 4

6. We had snakes and geckos as pets in Australia.

7. I collect stamps from the People’s Republic of China. I really miss going to stamp shows/fairs – in Australia I was unusual as a PRC collector most of them were male and/or Chinese.

There you have it – 7 random things about me. I’m not going to tag anyone specifically, but if you do decide to play, let me know.

Off to attack the mountain of ironing so that I can sit down and knit in good conscience – today is knitting for me day and the new socks are calling my name.

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I got all of the bibs finished off this weekend, so once Gorgeous Girl wakes up we’ll be making a trip to the post office. I hate going to the post office here and so put it off until there’s a load of mail to be sent…

I made some cards for birthdays and things yesterday. It’s been a while since I had all the paper and stuff out, so it was good to play with that again.

It doesn’t show up well in the picture, but there are water-marked turtles on the side of the card.

The pictures on the front of the cards came from a 2007 desk calendar from Australia Geographic magazine.

I currently have lots of works in progress.  First there’s the hand quilting. I’ve revised my expectations, with 29 blocks and a border to go there’s no way the quilt is going to be ready for the March (3rd) guild meeting, so I’m aiming for April to be finished, finished. Then there’s the nine patches for my leaders and enders project, and 4 items on the knitting front.

The sock for Mum is coming along nicely. It’s not yarn I would have chosen myself, but Mum liked it.

Yesterday I cast on for a sock for me, I love this colourway.

I’m loving how the pattern is knitting up.

The cardigan for the local hospital is coming along nicely. I’ve nearly finished the body.

Then it’ll just need the sleeves and finally I’m hoping to start a knitted dress for Gorgeous Girl today, if the latest swatch shows that I got gauge…

There has also been some reading.

2008 Book List

7. On – Adam Roberts

This is a science fiction novel about a post-apocalyptic earth, it started off very slowly, got very exciting towards the middle and then petered out at the end. I hated the ending and would not recommend this one.

8. The Origins of Satan Elaine Pagels

This was really interesting, it’s an academic study on the way the Jews and then the early Christians developed a theology of Satan and identified the devil with those who opposed them. It was really interesting.

So far this year I’m averaging just under a book a week, I used to read a lot more, but crafting kind of eats into that.

Well, the house is quiet, the child is sleeping. I’m off to make a birthday card for Preview »my Mum (I’m determined to be better with birthdays this year, last year was a write-off, I missed everyone’s – I kept forgetting about the 3 – 4 weeks postage time needed), do some ironing, put away some of the washing and then, if Gorgeous Girl is still sleeping, settle down to stitch on my quilt.

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BEHOLD! A finished object.

I figured these socks rated a behold since they are cursed! Seriously they took me at least 4 attempts. It’s only a basic sock, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. The good news is that one sock is perfect and I wrote down exactly what I did, so I should be able to replicate it using my Christmas yarn without too much trouble. The bad news is that the other one (which I did first – on the left) has some ‘issues’. Oh well, they are wearable and are only for keeping my feet warm around the house.

BEHOLD, visit Yarn Miracle to say congratulations on their own little miracle. She is adorable!

I spent some quality time with my rotary cutter today. The guild is having a scrap quilt challenge and I figured, since I’m on the committee, that I should actually participate. Also, I have a fair few scraps even though I’ve only ever made 3 quilts (I’m currently working on the fourth). So I started cutting blocks to use as a leaders and enders project. (Yes Kate, I’ve caved and now have two quilts going at once). I had a whole stack of two inch blue strips pieced together in alternating light and dark (a superfluous border) so I unpicked them into sets of three and am cutting them to two inches. I’m thinking 9 patches.

I have a question, is a 9 patch made out of two inch squares going to be too small to do as a disappearing 9 patch? Any advice welcome.

Elke, at Quilterin. Very kindly gave me this award this week.

Thank you Elke. I haven’t been reading her blog for very long. I stumbled across it when I searched for ‘German quilting blogs’. I enjoy reading her blog because not only does she make lovely quilts, but I also get to practice my German. Her blog is bilingual, so I read it in German first and then scroll down to the English to check how much I’ve understood. Go and pay her a visit if you haven’t been by her blog before.

I’m going to pass this award on to Kate, Amy, Barbara and Tracey. Not only are they regular visitors and commenters here, but their friendship has extended out of this blog and I’m really glad to have ‘met’ them. I hope that one day we’ll be able to meet outside of cyberspace. There are so many others of you who have enriched my life and provided inspiration as well. Thank you. Oh, I’m waxing so lyrical I’m making myself ill, guess Oscar fever must be rubbing off lol.

Well Gorgeous Girl is sleeping and Gorgeous Man is at a meeting so I’m off to work on some baby bibs and my new leaders and enders project – pictures when there’s more to it than just 2 inch squares.

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There’s a fair bit of crafting happening at the moment (though still not as much as I’d like…) but most of it is small increments on lots of different projects, so it;s hard to show pictures. Over the weekend I worked on this.

It’s for Quilts 4 Leukaemia. I’ve stitched down two of the hearts. I asked the quilters at the last guild meeting if they would make some blocks for the project too. I’ll take this one along to the next meeting as an example and then collect any blocks that the make in April and send them off. I’m not sure how many of them are going to participate, but if one or two help out that will be a good thing.

I also spent time this weekend knitting on a cardigan for the local public hospital, but that’s slow going and there’s no noticeable difference from the last time I took a picture. I also started swatching for a new project for Gorgeous Girl, hopefully I’ll be able to get gauge with the substitute yarn.

I saw this on Amy’s blog and decided to play along.

OneWord… You Can Only Type One Word (It is not as easy as it looks)

1. Where is your cell phone? couch

2. Your significant other? gorgeous

3. Your hair? red

4. Your mother? energetic

5. Your father? reconciling

6. Your favorite thing? sleep

7. Your dream last night? none

8. Your favorite drink? cranberry juice

9. Your dream/goal? productivity

10. The room you’re in? living

11. Your ex? insignificant

12. Your fear? abandonment

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? home

14. Where were you last night? home

15. What you’re not? fit

16. Muffins? yes

17. One of your wish list items? travel

18. Where you grew up? Australia

19. The last thing you did? ironing

20. What are you wearing? ie lava-lava

21. Your TV? unused

22. Your pet? fat

23. Your computer? lifeline

24. Your life? enjoyable

25. Your mood? good

26. Missing someone? yes

27 Your car? filthy

28. Something you’re not wearing? watch

29. Favorite Store? none

30. Your summer? hot

31. Like someone? yes

32. Your favorite colour? purple

33. When is the last time you laughed? today

34. Last time you cried? yesterday

35. Who will/would re-post this? Kerin

I also got some reading done over the weekend

Books Read in 2008

5. Miss Chopsticks – Xin Ran. If you haven’t read any of Xin Ran’s work I highly recommend it. She’s a Chinese author and her books are beautifully written and translated. This book is a novel based on the lives of 3 peasant women from rural Anhui that she met.

6. A Canticle for Leibowitx – Walter M. Miller Jr – very early science fiction. This was also a great read.

Ok, got to go, Gorgeous Girl is awake and not happy sitting on my lap while I type.

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Well, all of the fabric I was gifted with last week has been washed, ironed and put away. As I was preparing the fabric for its stay in my stash I felt rather melancholy. I wondered what fabulous projects J had in mind when she purchased her fabric. Here’s a woman who had so much fabric that she wasn’t able to use it all before circumstances forced her to stop and while it was wonderful to receive the gift of fabric, I felt sad that she wasn’t able to use it herself. Kind of gives one pause for thought about the growth of one’s fabric stash…

Speaking stash growth 🙂 Gorgeous Man’s mother returned from her trip to Australia this week. She brought some goodies back for us Buderim Ginger pieces, a stack of books for Gorgeous Girl and some Australian Women’s magazines for me to read. Reading them made me realise how removed from Australian culture I’m becoming. Seriously, I didn’t recognise half of the ‘famous’ people in them. Gorgeous Man’s mother also played courier for me. Step-mother-in-law sent a package to Gorgeous Man’s sister to pass on to his mother to bring to us (got that). This is what she sent.

Am I a lucky girl or what?! More fabric to wash and iron and introduce to the stash.

Gorgeous Man’s mother and step-father had quite a difficult trip to Australia and back. On the way there their flight made two unscheduled stops due to ‘technical difficulties’ and the lousy stinking thieves that work at Cape Town International Airport the baggage handlers stole SFIL’s camera out of his luggage. Guess how much compensation the airline offered them for a ~AU$500 camera. AU$23!! They turned it down and have written to the General Manager so we’ll see what happens there. Seriously though folks, if you are flying into South Africa don’t put anything into your stowed luggage that you’d be devastated to lose. Valuables and personal treasures have to go in your hand luggage.

On the return flight MIL’s suitcase went missing…2 days later it’s still missing (sound familiar Colleen?). Hopefully it will turn up.

I made some more bibs.

These are also gifts. I need to make 10, so 4 more to go. They still need velcro, but Gorgeous Girl is asleep, so I thought I’d sneak in a quick post while I could.

We didn’t have cot bumpers because they are a factor with SIDS, but I’m beginning to think that we are going to have to get some post-haste.

This is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence…

Well I’m off to spend some time with the iron, and then hopefully the sewing machine. We’ll see what the afternoon brings.

Have a wonderful day.

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Yesterday was quite cool (today we’re back to the hot weather) and I was really glad to be able to dress Gorgeous Girl in this very special cardigan.

This cardigan holds a special place in my heart because it was both a comfort and a catalyst to me.

When we first arrived in South Africa our promised accommodation did not eventuate and our temporary living quarters were LESS than ideal. Gorgeous Man was busy getting ready for classes to begin and I was stuck without a car, radio, television or (oh the horror) the internet, or a library card and no friends. I was pretty darn miserable. One day Gorgeous Man asked me what I needed to be happy and the answer of course was a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. So the next time we had access to a borrowed car we drove around trying to find somewhere that sold yarn. After a few false leads (old yarn stores that had closed) we found a place with a very limited selection and needles and yarn were duly purchased.

Then I needed a pattern, so I commandeered the computer in Gorgeous Man’s office and began to look for free knitting patterns. This led me to Emily’s blog, what a revelation that was! After a few days of looking at knitting blogs it occurred to me that if there were blogs about knitting, then surely there could be blogs about quilting. A quick google search led me to Mary’s blog. I read blogs for 6 months before starting my own, and I have this little cardigan to thank.

It did cheer me up no end. Before I began knitting it I had planned to donate it to charity when I was done, but once it was finished I realised it was my first South African FO and I should hang on to it. I have to say it was really lovely to see my child wearing it yesterday.

Gorgeous Girl is starting to amuse herself for longer periods of time now and this was my view from the ironing board yesterday.

She stopped playing and smiled as soon as I picked up the camera. I should be afraid, right?

I was out with Gorgeous Girl on Saturday when a woman approached me. I have met her before, but can’t place her at the moment. Anyway she announced that I needed a baby sitter (people often approach me asking for work as a maid or nanny – nearly everyone I know has a maid…so this is not unusual) I told her that I only worked five hours a week and when I was working Gorgeous Girl was with Gorgeous Man.

She then insisted I needed a baby sitter for other times and told me that her 11 year old daughter could do it. I nodded and smiled and in my head I was screaming Not on your life!! ELEVEN! Call me completely overprotective, paranoid and anxious old-fashioned, but I won’t be getting an 11 year old to watch my child, I thought 11 year olds still needed sitters themselves. I might consider a sixteen year old after rigourous police checks and presentation of a first aid and CPR certificate checking her references but not an 11 year old.

I frogged the orange crochet hat. My crochet skills aren’t up to it. The vision of loveliness I was seeing in my head was not being translated into the work I was producing. The yarn is now going to marinate until it decides to let me know what it wants to be.

I have a hairdressing appointment this afternoon. First one since Gorgeous Girl was born. I hate going to the hairdresser and kept putting off making an appointment. I was finally shamed into making an appointment when I ran into my hairdresser at the height of our water crisis, so I was unwashed with my hair pulled back into a bun…I went straight from the chemist to the salon to book in. Hopefully Gorgeous Girl will behave herself…

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Smiling to myself

Today I checked the ABC Australia homepage and couldn’t stop smiling. I blogged last year about how hopeful I was for Australia with the change of Prime Minister, and two news items today had me grinning from ear to ear.

For the first time in the history of Australia’s parliament traditional leaders have been asked to do a welcome ceremony to mark the opening.

In addition, tomorrow Kevin Rudd (the Prime Minister) will issue an apology to the Aboriginal People for past parliaments’ policies of assimilation – known as the ‘Stolen Generation’ .

The text of the apology can be found here, and I think it’s one of the most beautifully written things I’ve read in recent years.

Yep, today I’m smiling.

Come back later for actual craft content.

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I’ve been tagged for 2 memes. The first one is the four things meme from Catherine. I’ve done this one before, so I’ll try and give different answers this time to keep it interesting.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Shelving books in the college library

2. Cleaning toilets (also working my way through college)

3. Teaching English in the People’s Republic of China

4. High School history teacher

Four movies I would watch over and over again: – this is hard since I usually only watch things once…
1. The Princess Bride

2. Lord of the Rings

3. am stumped for the other 2

Four places I have lived:
1. Perth, Western Australia

2. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

3. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

4. Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Four places I have been:
1. China

2. Singapore

3. Kruger National Park

4. Uluru

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Potato -cooked any way

2. Chocolate

3. Homemade bread

4. Watermelon

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. In a swimming pool – it’s really hot today!

2. At home in Australia with a friend who is ill (Hi Lisa)

3. Bed

4. On holiday

Four people I think will respond:
1. Helen

2. Kerin

3. Fliss

4. The Secret Knitter

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Our holiday in June

2. Possibly going home to Australia for Christmas

3. Getting more sewing done now I’m not working crazy hours

4. Spending time with Gorgeous Girl

Four things I say regularly:
1. Did you poop your pants?

2. Are you finished?

3. Cool

4. Just let me finish this row.

Helen tagged me for the second meme, similar, but slightly different.

Living Arrangements

I live in South Africa with Gorgeous Man and Gorgeous Girl. We’ve been here for 2 years.


I have a Bachelor of Education with a double major in History and English – history is my passion. I also have a Graduate Diploma of Applied Linguistics – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and a Post-graduate Diploma of Arts – History (specialising in Chinese history).

Favourite Food and Drink

See above for favourite foods. I also like a good curry (flavoursome, but not too hot) and good Chinese food. At the moment I’m drinking tons of water, but love coffee (only on the decaf stuff while I’m nursing though)

Morning or Evening Person

Evening. I love the fact that most mornings Gorgeous Man gets Gorgeous Girl up and changes her and entertains her for a while so that I can get a little extra sleep.

Since when have you been quilting

I’ve been quilting since 2004. I was fascinated by it for a while and read Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine (borrowed from our local library) for two years before I put needle to fabric. We were visiting friends of ours (Hi Lisa) and she helped me make an appliqued cushion, she then sent me home with her spare machine – the rest is history. You can see my first quilt here.


We have one cat. In Australia we had umpteen geckoes and two children’s pythons, but we had to sell them before we came to South Africa. We also had the world’s best dog, but she died (at the ripe old age of 18) in 2004.


At the moment we are trying to see as much of South Africa and other parts of Africa as the teaching schedule and budget will allow. Gorgeous Man is currently researching and planning our June/July break

I’m now supposed to pick 7 blogs I enjoy, I’m going to try and pick ones I haven’t listed here before.

1. Kate’s Quilting – her productivity is amazing

2. Making Scrap Quilts from Stash – Mary’s blog was the first quilt blog I ever read.

3. Through the Loops – Beautiful knitting, stunning designs and beautiful, talented children.

4. Wool n Weeds – Maria is busy creating a new garden at the moment.

5. A Strikke – Kate is currently in Russia. I’m lucky enough to be reading her thesis at the moment, it’s my nursing reading.

6. Needles and Wool – Karen’s spinning is just divine. I’m so going to learn how to spin one day…

7. PHD Comics – because they really are true to life as a grad student.

I won’t tag anyone, but if you decide to play along let me know. I’d love to see your answers.

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Forgive the paucity of posts, it’s been my first week back at work, but I’m on top of it now. Admittedly it’s only one hour a day Tuesday to Friday (except Wednesday which is two). Gorgeous Man and I have been able to coordinate our teaching schedules so that he’s free when I’m teaching and Gorgeous Girl goes to him. This has met with some success, though he’s had a few screaming fits on his hands. On Fridays she comes to class with me. She was very good today and the students don’t mind, I did have to tell them to stop looking at the baby and concentrate on their work occasionally. One advantage of living on the campus is that I can walk to work every day. Pushing the pram up and down the hill (it’s a steep sucker) is good exercise too.

Here we are ready to walk to work with Mummy. I try to be a sun-safe parent and remember her hat whenever we are out in the sun. Now if I could just remember to use my sunscreen every day we’d be set.

There has been sewing, I made some more bibs. These aren’t for Gorgeous Girl though – they are for some pregnant friends.

I’m so taken with this pattern that I have two more cut out and more in the works.

We’ve only had one power outage this week, but we have lost water Every. Single. Day. When it comes back on it makes you truly grateful for being able to turn on a tap and have liquid goodness rushing out. I can’t imagine how hard life is for those people who have to fetch every drop they use. Here’s our alternative lighting source.

It’s very hard to do hand quilting by candle light and eventually I had to give it up…don’t know how they did it in the old days.

I’ve done some reading this week. Reading while bre*st feeding is becoming increasingly difficult because Gorgeous Girl unlatches if I turn a page (she doesn’t seem to mind mouse clicking though so that’s when I’ve been doing my blog reading – hence the reason some of my comments are brief).

Reading List for 2008

4. Atlantis of the Sands – The search for the lost city of Ubar – Ranulph Fiennes

I really struggled with this book – the first part was really difficult to get through, however the second part of the book was very interesting.

Well I’m off, Gorgeous Man had a root canal done today and I don’t want to stay up too late and wake him when I go to bed. Enjoy your weekend.

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