Thursday, February 24, 2011

Zooming along

Today was another great sewing day at TAFE.  The sewing machines there are industrial sewing machines - they are a bit bigger than domestic machines and are really heavy, they also go super fast.  For the past week and a half during sewing class we have been encouraged to use the machines at full speed - even if our accuracy isn't great it will give us the confidence to use the machines.  

Well, today our teacher gave us a lesson in using domestic machines.  When I sat down at the machine to sew I tentatively eased my foot onto the pedal, just as I had every day with the industrial machines, then I added pressure and when the machine only slowly started stitching I put more pressure on the pedal.  Then I realised that I had the pedal fully depressed and the machine was at full speed yet it felt like it was barely moving!  Not only that, but I had near perfect accuracy!

I'm so thrilled to have already learnt so much and there is another four months to go.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Expanding my craftiness

I mentioned the other evening that I had a some big news.  Well here it is. 

Sometimes in life you need a bit of a change and this is mine...

I learnt to sew many years ago in a high school home economics class and hated it.  A few years ago I finally overcame the horrors of my year 8 completely mis-sewn shorts and started flirting with sewing.  But I really have no idea what I'm doing.  I don't know anything about fabric, or seams, or hems or, well, anything sewing related at all really!

So I've taken the plunge and my workplace has kindly allowed me to move to part time hours while I study 'Clothing Production' at the local technical college full time.   It is a course that covers not just sewing, but also understanding fabrics, clothing design and pattern making. 

We are halfway through the second week of classes and it is great.  Yesterday we used overlockers - wow!  Threading an industrial overlocker is complicated, and involves a lot of tweezers work - I wished we'd owned the 'Operation' game when I was a child, I think it would have been good practice!  Pattern making is a bit confusing, but I've never even used the patterns you can buy from sewing shops for domestic use so it is all completely new.  All of the classes are interesting though and I'm very excited about the coming months.

I'm especially excited about learning to sew because we have some gorgeous silk that I want to turn into something beautiful, but I'm currently too nervous about ruining it to touch it. 

This sari silk has been sitting in our cupboard since our return from Sri Lanka a few years ago.  This photo doesn't do justice to the fabric, which is rich and vibrant and shimmers in the light.

Mid-week baking

I try to bake something every week so we have something for snacks each day.  We finished off some choc-chip cookies today, so I needed something quick and easy that I could make after a long day.  Honeyjoys may seem like a children's party treat, but they are welcomed at grown up get-togethers and work morning teas too.  Oh, and they are Tansy's favourite human snack - she always gets a couple of flakes if she is around when we eat them!

There are lots of recipes for Honeyjoys on the internet, this is the one I use:
In a large saucepan melt together:
 - 90g butter
 - 75g sugar (I use raw sugar)
 - 1 tablespoon of honey
When the sugar is dissolved take the saucepan off the heat and add:
 - 140g cornflakes
Spoon the mix into patty pans and bake at 150oC for 10 minutes.
Leave them to cool so they set, and then try not to eat too many at once!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Childhood memories

Late last year when Ruth Park's death was reported memories of 'The Muddleheaded Wombat' came flooding back to me.  This is my most cherished childhood book.  The adventures of Wombat, Mouse and Cat were so wonderful and endearing I read them over and over.  I wanted so much to sail down a river on an upside down umbrella. 

Thank you to Ruth Park, May Gibbs, S.A. Wakefield and all other children's authors who help to enrich our imaginations.

ps:  The Big Bad Banksia Men still send shivers up my spine and I always look twice at banksia trees - do you?!

Pink beans

We harvested lots of scarlet runner beans last week - before they are cooked they are hot pink with purple spots.  I'm not a big bean fan, but how can you say no to pink vegetables?!

Knit 2, Wear 1

I've been quite busy the past week - there has been a big change in my life, which I won't go into now, but I promise I will elaborate on in another post soon!

But so you don't think I've completely forgotten about you all here are a couple of completed knitting projects.

The turtleneck jumper I based on Stephanie Japel's 'Cosy V-Neck Pullover'.  This used 2.5 balls of BWM Rustic in Damson on 6.5mm needles.

My own design.  This knit up in a week and I wore it today.  This used about 1.1 balls of BWM Rustic in Radiant on 6.5mm needles.  You may have noticed a theme of BWM Rustic?!  I like that it knits up on bigger needles and I also like the feel - a warm, and yes, rustic wool. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

By the front door

We came home a few days ago and this parcel was waiting by the front door for me.

I finished the turtleneck jumper on the weekend, so I've started a new project.  The new project is something I'm knitting without a pattern, so I won't tell you what it is yet - just in case it doesn't turn into what I'm expecting!  But watch this space...

One hour in the world of a puppy

Fun is making new friends...

Happiness is running and running...

Joy is going to the dog park...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Leeks in the kitchen

Today we picked some leeks from the garden and made our Leek, Rice and Gruyere Tart for dinner.  Yum!

We tried something different today and topped half the tart with sliced Black Russian tomato.  A side salad with everything homegrown (except the dressing!) - green beans, rocket, four different types of tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, basil and zucchini.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Something special

My husband had to travel interstate for work last week.  He brought me back this lovely brooch from Adelaide.

ps: He bought some crocodile jerky in Darwin for Tansy - it smells horrible, but she loves it!

Weekend work

What a wild week of weather it has been - Cyclone Yasi in Northern Queensland and the icy conditions across North America, even our blazing hot days have been interspersed with rain storms.  Late on Thursday afternoon when we were going home a storm suddenly blew in.  As we were driving along a road not far from home we saw branches ripped off trees and the rain was so heavy the traffic slowed to a crawl.  The next morning when we drove back along that road we saw several trees had been pulled up.  Today the heat has been replaced by a pleasant (and welcome!) cool change.

Yesterday afternoon we made more tomato sauce.  We only used Sunny Boy tomatoes, which are yellow when ripe, so we were somewhat flummoxed when the sauce turned red...

Six jars of sauce this time (we used more tomatoes than last time).  But why is it red??
  Yesterday morning we went blackberry picking again - blackberry season is in full swing and for the first time we filled all of our containers, and it only took a little over an hour to do it.  2.05kg

Today we used 1kg of the blackberries to make blackberry and apple jam.  My husband was busy with other chores, so I was left in charge - sadly baking is the only thing I can successfully do in the kitchen and I overcooked this jam (like I have done with the other jam I've made).  It is VERY thick.  I'm not sure what bread or scone will be sturdy enough not to crumble if we try to spread this.  It tastes great though!