Sunday, June 30, 2013

The great July vintage teatowel-a-thon

Some time in the last 10 years - I'm not exactly sure when - I got really into collecting teatowels from op-shops. In particular, souvenir teatowels, and in particular particular, Australiana teatowels. I couldn't say exactly what it is about vintage souvenir/Australiana teatowels that attracts me so, but I can say that it has something to do with 1. colourfulness of design, and 2. kitschness of design. Sometimes I make them into things (skirts/pillows/patches/pockets/boleros/serviettes/etc etc), sometimes I don't. Hey, sometimes I even just use them as teatowels! Radical!
'1978' (my year of birth) and 'South Coast of NSW' (our new home-land) teatowel cushions snuggled up on the bothy couch

Recently, I've received some super-awesome teatowel donations from extremo-generous friends. As a result of said donations, ye olde teatowel suitcase is fairly groaning with abundance. It's a beautiful thing, let me tell you, but it makes me want to share.
Just some of the delightful teatowels that could soon be adorning your body and/or house

So, for all of July, I'm going to be posting some photos of a selection of teatowels for perusal by you, dear reader. I won't be selling them as teatowels, as I would love to make things for you - skirts, boleros, sets of cloth serviettes, cushions, etc. Basically, if one of the teatowels you see here tickles your fancy in some way, give me a hoy and I'll make it into something for you.
Calendar teatowels like these make excellent cushions, of the birthday-gift variety. If you're after a particular year, let me know. I have a ton of them...

Examples of some things I've made with teatowels can be seen here, here, and here. Though to be honest, the blog's covered in them so you wouldn't really need to look too far.
Pearl's pick of the week. She's a sucker for a still life involving fruit and/or veg

The money raised during this July-teatowel-a-thon will go towards buying sausage-making and smoking equipment for the pig we have coming in August. The pig, now happily grazing and snouting around a farm in Wyndham, will, in August, be coming to our place to be made into bacon, prosciutto, sausages etc. Sale of teatowel items will fund said pig-processing operation, and will contribute valuable self-sufficiency infrastructure to our little farm. You get vintage teatowel wares, we get homemade nitrate-free bacon and sausages. It's as simple (and good) as that. Think of it as paypal-facilitated bartering.
A pair of never-been-used Great Barrier Reef numbers. I'm thinking boleros...

So if you like the looks of something I post in the next month, send me an email - - and we can work something out. I'm looking forward to sewing for y'all!

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Sunday in winter

When we woke up yesterday it was dull and overcast. The valley, which we can see from the window above the bed, was shrouded in thick fog. We were snug in our loft, but I ventured down the ladder to find out the time, the temperature, if we'd had any rain overnight, and to check on the chickens and ducks. 

What's for breakfast? we all asked. 

What's in the garden? Rhubarb! 
A quick flick through Winter on the Farm (our culinary bible of the season) settled it: yoghurt pancakes with honey-poached rhubarb. 
Rhubarb in honey: the colours (and smells!) were divine
While Pearl and the kids lounged amidst cups of tea and reading in bed, I pottered around in the garden and 'kitchen', picking rhubarb and preparing breakfast for them all. It's my sunday morning ritual: Given that Pearl spends her saturday cooking breakfast and lunch for hundreds of people at a cafe in town (and doing a damn-fine job of it, too!), I figure she deserves a lie-in and a break from cooking on her sundays wouldn't you say? 
After the pancakes, eaten at our makeshift 'table' (a suitcase) in the 'loungeroom' (the place we eat when it's too cold and damp for outside) we started gathering produce for our neighbourhood food swap. 
Just some of the produce our neighbours brought to share: herbs and cabbage and chokos and homemade gouda and parmesan and lettuce and leeks and pumpkin and red Russian kale and cauliflower...
and lemons and rocket and home-grown, home-cured bacon and greens, greens and more greens
What a treat! To be able to gather with friends and neighbours and people we've never met before, sipping tea and eating cake, looking through the host's veggie garden and chicken run, seeing and talking about how other people run their gardens and little farms, talking about the weather, the animals, what it's like when it floods, swapping notes on preserving and bacon-making while the kids played amongst fallen leaves, all rugged up in colourful woollens. 
Social bartering, you could say. 

We left with smiles on our faces and a basket full of broad beans and home-made cheese and home-made bacon and jam and cabbages and bulbs and garlic and other goodies for planting. We felt oh so lucky to be living here in this beautiful community, amongst people so willing to share in the bounty of the land. 

And then the rain came down.

We've had a bit of rain of late, but the bottom dam's still low, and the tank's not yet full, so we're always grateful for more. We spent the rest of our sunday planting and digging and reading and playing and cooking and baking and watching The Sound of Music under blankets when it got too dark and cold and rainy to stay outside. 

What a way to spend a day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Praise be to colcannon

 When you have kale plants growing in your garden that look like this...
Caledonian kale. This plant is seriously boob-height on me.
and this...

Curly kale - ain't she bewdiful?
the pressure's on to eat some kale. Lots of it.

Every week we take a big bucket to sell at the local food co-op, but there's only so much they can sell, so we still have lots for ourselves. LOTS.
Big bucket o' greens en route to Candelo Bulk Wholefoods
Luckily, I recently made a skirt out of a blanket for a lovely friend, who traded for the skirt a copy of Home Made Winter. This book, along with Matthew Evans' Winter on the Farm, is providing most of the recipes we're cooking these days. We're loving 'em! 

Of particular note is our recent discovery of colcannon. I know - what took us so long??!! If you've never had it, I suggest you go and make some. NOW. Apart from using up a nice big bunch of kale (it is a superfood, after all), the colcannon in Home Made Winter also calls for SERVING THE COLCANNON WITH LITTLE WELLS INTO WHICH MELTED BUTTER IS POURED. If you feel even half as fondly about butter as I do, you'll understand my use of shouting capitals.
Just-picked kale colcannon. That red jug contains melted butter for pouring into colcannon wells: yesssssssss.
I believe that colcannon, served on a winter's night in a snug little strawbale cottage with a JUG OF MELTED BUTTER and a glass of home-brewed stout on the side, may well be my perfect meal. And just in case there's some left over, you can make pretty ace-balls potato cakes out of the leftovers.  I had them this morning with chilli jam for breakfast. 

So go plant some kale!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cheers maaate xxx

I love birthdays. I love my friends' birthdays because it gives me a chance to honour them, write them a love letter, and make them some crafted goodness. This kind of craftiness - the super-rewarding kind - is, for me, at its finest when I'm crafting a gift for a loved one. It's a meditative act of reflection on the person you're crafting for, on your love for them, your relationship with them, fun times you hope for them. 
That's how I felt making this 4-pack of crocheted stubby holders (complete with 4 bottles of my latest brew - a dry-hopped pale ale - and a hessian carry bag) for a precious friend of mine's recent birthday. 
The 4-pack-holder is made from a potato sack, using a modified pattern from Taproot magazine.
Each stitch is a little "thank you" or an "I love you" or an "I'm so glad you're in my life" or an "I hope these stubby holders hold many happy times beers and not so many of the drowning sorrows variety". Some stitches contain wonders over which stubby holder will be the favourite, and which will be reserved for guests at lunches and picnics and dinners. And some stitches - many, many of them, in fact - contain heartfelt wishes for a life filled with love and laughter and growth and satisfaction.
Cheers lovely - I hope you can feel the love comin' down the crocheted and home-brewed line xxx

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The end of an era

Yesterday I made this custom skirt for a lady called Christy. I was pretty excited when the order came through from Georgie Love, because Christy was after a yellow- and/or orange- themed skirt, and I just love the sunshiny hues. It just so happened that I had a delightful vintage poppy print just ready and waiting to go, too. 
The sad bit about this skirt order, though, is that, after 4 years of happy sewing, it will be my last order for Georgie Love. The delightful, fruitful relationship I've had with this most awesome of handmade-stuff providores has now come to an end, on account of the fact that Sal has finally decided to call it quits. 

That's right folks:  Georgie Love is about to close its cyber doors. *sob*

Obviously, this is a massive blow to hand-makers and handmade-lovers all over the world. Sal and Georgie stocked some beautiful wares. And in addition to having extremely delicious taste in handmade stuff, making their shop freaking awesome, they are also just generally tops individuals. OK... I've never actually met Georgie (the dog), but I'm sure he's a fine fellow.

Sal, I know for a fact, is ace-balls. Super-supportive and helpful of my crafty endeavours, endlessly patient with my sometimes outrageously doofus attitude towards computers and the inter-web, thoughtful, generous and at times (like when she talked me into buying the most expensive piece of clothing I have EVER owned) wickedly persuasive. And she's super cool.

But she's decided that Georgie Love is something she needs a break from. So from now on, I'll be forced to fend for myself in the big wide cyber-world. This is terrifying for me (on account of aforementioned cyber-doofus-ness) but probably happy for Sal - when you need a break, you need a break.

Sal - I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours!

Christy - I hope you like your sunshiny, historically-significant skirt. I find it quite fetching myself...

All the rest of you - to help Sal clear out her excess Georgie Love stock, she's offering 40% off when you use the checkout coupon code 'FINAL'. That's a pretty stunning discount. I ordered a few things myself, like this little house brooch for Pearl cuz... you know... we built a little house and stuff. 

This crazy-ass closing-down discount also means that you, dear reader, can snavel the remaining Georgie Love P&Es (including some sweet little-girl mini P&E tea-towel skirts) for a crazy price. CRAZY. Check 'em out. And from now on, if you want a custom P&E (or a bolero, or a bridesmaids/formal/wedding frock, or a crocheted stubby holder, etc etc), you'll have to come to me direct. On the inter-web. By sending me an email. Scary stuff...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Back on the crochet trail

Given that my mum's the one who taught me to sew and crochet, I sometimes feel a bit funny making stuff for her. For this mothers' day though, I knew exactly what I wanted to make for her. It all revolved around my latest crafty obsession - crocheted floral blocks. 
I've had a pretty non-comittal, on/off relationship with crocheting, never really getting into anything more than a scarf or a hot water bottle cover. Recently though, a few things have pushed my crocheting outputs up a notch. 

It all started with my friend Matt's birthday. I don't know about you, but I struggle with man craft. I just don't know what to make for the dudes in my life! This year, a crocheted beanie seemed like a good option for Matty. We're lucky here in the Beegs to have a crazy abundance of completely amazing fleece growers/dyers/spinners. In particular, a very lovely lady called Tabitha has been responsible for prompting me to get a little more into the fleecey crafts, mainly on account of the fact that she has a farm, where she has a ton of fleece-producing (and other) animals, which she cares for, shears, then dyes and spins the wool into all manner of beautiful yarns and related craft items. (If you watch the Australian River Cottage show, you'll probably see her). Her market stall is extremely beautiful and very exciting for the budding fleece-lover, and my crocheting output has increased of late simply because her things are so beautiful I want to buy something from her every time I see her. Matt's beanie wool came from Tabitha, and was spun specifically for him, using wool that came off a black/brown and white sheep. The wool was then over-dyed with some foresty green colours, so the whole shebang is a gorgeous, mottley affair, aptly befitting the fact that  Matt spends most of his waking hours in the bush and/or hanging around with plants. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of it before I posted it to him, so you'll have to take my word for it: it's rooly nice.

IN keeping with my explorations of crocheted man-craft, I started creating what I believe to be quite a winner (though not exclusively for the men, of course) - the crocheted stubby holder. If you believe that a special beer-loving man or lady in your life would like one of these beauties then you can contact me, and I will make you one (if you ask me nicely and give me 20 bucks).
Then there was the post on Fox's Lane about 'motifs'. Mysterious. Given that I'm a complete noobs to the crocheting world, these beauties were heretofore alien to me, but I was very enticed by the concept: cute, colourful and, above all, small, so easily completed in one go (a big plus for me... I have some attention issues).
Hand-dyed, homespun wool makes super-beautiful floral blocks for mothers' day skirts! The orange wool is dyed with Eucalyptus!!
Then (as if there weren't enough stars pointing me towards getting my crochet on) I was wandering around the library one day looking for a book on wood fired ovens (looking up the call number is just way too easy) when I discovered a book called 75 Crocheted Floral Blocks. I fell in love, and quickly became obsessed with working my

way through the book, making floral blocks, which I'd never even heard of before. One of the things I love about life, is that I can be 35 years old and still discovering craft things I've never heard of and falling in love with them. Ace.

So, that's a really long (and possibly unnecessary) explanation of my mum's Mothers' Day gift: a deep turquoise wool crepe skirt with floral blocks on it. I dig it. Mum digs it (even though she probably could have made it for herself). And sewing them onto a skirt is an excellent way to use up the floral blocks that are wafting around our place at the moment.