Saturday, March 31, 2012

Followed or Following?

Spent a pleasant afternoon at the Essendon Quilters show at the Incinerator.
Publishing photos of the quilts isn't allowed, but I hope this distance view won't offend anyone. When I put it on the computer I realised this photo includes the same Mary who I kept running in to at the garden show on Thursday. Hi again, Mary! One of us seems to be following the other, but I'm not sure which...

Friday, March 30, 2012


Bought myself a little something:
How did they get everything into the box? I should have photographed it before I caused it to explode all over the place.

Now I just need to get it connected, hopefully with a new phone number I can actually remember. After 13 years I've given up on learning the current one.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Garden Show

The Flower and Garden Show is on again and today was a beautiful day for it:
Blue skies, warm sunshine, and lovely things to look at everywhere. I didn't see anything outstandingly new or unusual this year, but that didn't matter. I bumped into a couple of friends (Hi Mary!), and looked at all the display gardens. There seemed to be larger gaps between the booths this year (fewer participants perhaps), but I was glad to be able to go on a less crowded weekday this year, instead of the weekend as I have the last couple of times.

The floristry displays aren't usually my favourite section, but this year a couple of them caught my eye. This rainbow of origami cranes was quite striking, although the flowers seem more like an afterthought:

I was not alone in choosing this as my favourite display:
Gold prize winner by North St Flowers, "Floral Design & Event Stylists". It is streets ahead of the competition! One photo can't show all the delightful details, so if you are at the show, go inside and check it out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beautiful Evening

There are not many evenings of daylight saving left, and I will miss it when it goes. The city was lovely this evening; the temperature was mild, the sky and the lights glowed, and everyone seemed relaxed and happy.
7:30pm in Bourke Street.
This time next week it will be dark.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quilted Flower

The enormous flower (18cm across) of a Brugmansia (species unknown) looks as if it is quilted.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Melbourne's Saddest Backyard?

Seen while out walking today, possibly Melbourne's saddest backyard. That's the whole thing; I was standing on the street with my camera between the bars of their gate. What would you do to cheer up this space? They might not be able to attach anything to the wall on the right, as that is the next-door neighbour's wall, but they could probably paint it. I'd want to add some colour on the ground - either paint the concrete, or add some colourful paving. Then of course I'd want as many plants as possible.

In the last week I have done very little. I've missed a couple of social activities due to issues with my (now gone) tooth. I've learnt about caring for your mouth after an extraction, some of it the hard way.  When I had the tooth out, the dentist gave me lots of instructions, including a printed leaflet.  I followed those instructions, but still lost the blood clot that was protecting the wound, resulting in throbbing pain and a return to the dentist for further treatment. Only an internet search some time later explained to me what I had done wrong, so now you can learn from my mistake. When the leaflet tells you not to smoke (which I don't, and never have), it is not the chemicals in the smoke it is warning you against, it is the sucking action. I thought I was being smart, avoiding food touching the area as much as possible, by drinking my meals through a straw for the first 24 hours. WRONG! All that sucking (which wasn't mentioned at all by the dentist or his leaflet) is probably what caused the clot to be lost.

Hopefully the week ahead will be full of more interesting activities!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Sanity checking to make sure the next square is facing the correct way before sewing it:
The whole lot joined together:
My dentist has retired! However his replacement has all his records, and I am taking the day off work tomorrow to go and see him. I'm very nervous. I hope he is good...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trying a Twist

Last night while doing a bit of blog-surfing, I came across this post by Daryl at Patchouli Moon. I've wanted to try this pattern, (variously called Square Dance, or Twister, or Twisted Pinwheels, and probably other names I haven't found yet) but wasn't sure how to arrange the initial squares. Daryl, inspired by Connie at Quilting By The River, used a Trip Around The World layout. I liked what they had both done, so decided to give it a go.

Today I had been planning to go to one of my quilting groups, but I have a toothache and would probably not be very good company. So I stayed home alone and sewed.

After I'd made myself a template and chosen and cut the fabrics, I assembled this small test layout:
The colours look better in real life, I think! I cut 16cm squares, and a 8.5cm border, although later I wished I'd made the border a little wider. And I had wanted the larger floral and the lightest fabric to be in opposite places, but I only had enough of the floral for 8 squares.

Once it was all sewn together, it was time to cut it apart again. At which point I realised that the template I'd made for myself (which was 10cm square) was too small for the size of the blocks I'd cut; I was going to waste too much fabric. Rather than do that I made a new template 12cm square. And that's why I wished the border was a little wider; for this template maybe 9cm would have been right.

It's a bit hard to see in the photo, but my template is made out of template plastic, and I drew positioning  lines with a Sharpie marker:
I drew around the template, then used a proper ruler to cut the squares. They have bias edges now, so need to be handled carefully. I got half way through this second set of cuts before my toothache became too painful to ignore, and I had to stop.
Not sewn together, just pinned on the wall at the moment. I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

In the morning I will ring the dentist and see how long I have to wait before he can take this horrible tooth out. Not too long, I hope!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Unwelcome Visitor

My sasanqua camellia "Showa No Sakae" is in flower, and looking very attractive:
Unfortunately what it is attracting here is a European wasp (Vespula germanica), rather than one of my bees.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bag Designs

For the last five weeks I've been going to classes on Thursday nights to learn about pattern-making for bags. Tonight was the last night, sadly. It's been a lot of fun, and I've learnt a lot.
This is my collection of little bag toiles of patterns I drafted during the course. They'd all need a bit of work before they could be real, usable bags, but turning the flat patterns into 3-dimensional constructions gave me a much better idea of what I was doing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tram Stop Philosophy

This morning I noticed this at the tram stop:
You may not be able to read the green writing on the poster without enlarging the image. It says, "Let's play like we're 5 again!"

I don't remember specifically how I played when I was five, but I was around that age when I hit my sister in the face with a metal swing. (I'd like to say it was an accident...) Perhaps I better just behave as an adult, for the safety of anyone nearby.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Recipe With History

I visited a friend today who had been experimenting with making a gluten-free lemon delicious pudding. She replaced the wheat flour with a mixture of rice flour and arrowroot flour.

I loved her starting point:
That's a recipe that has obviously been well-used over the years! Apparently my friend's sister-in-law wrote out the recipe in 1966, so some of those stains are middle-aged.

So how did the gluten-free version work? It didn't rise much (no gluten to hold in the air bubbles), and didn't go very brown (maybe due to low temperature of the oven, or lack of the requirements for the Maillard reaction; amino acids and reducing sugars).

However, when it comes to food, the science is less important than the taste. (Would have liked to have said that to my food science lecturer.)
Served with a dollop of plain yoghurt, it was very yummy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Black Wattle Update

Here's the colour of the Acacia mearnsii seedlings now they have grown a little:
Still a reddish tinge, particularly in the youngest leaves.

Actually they've grown more than "a little". Only one tube has not yet germinated, and many of the other 47 will need thinning out soon.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Full Day

Today was action-packed!

First stop: Ballan. Visited the Farmers' Market, and had a quick look at the new location of the Lions Club op-shop:
How about that for a garden seat? This property has always fascinated me from the street, but this is the first time I'd been able to get inside the fence and have a closer look

Next stop: Weeding at Lal Lal. Lots of cutting and painting of Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), and ripping out of gorse (Ulex europaeus).
Also saw this enamelled spider (Araneus bradleyi), and lots of butterflies.

Next stop: Taking Mum to the Begonia Quilters' exhibition. Unfortunately she wasn't feeling well enough, so after a quick visit with her I went on my own.
This quilt by Elizabeth Bren was not necessarily my favourite quilt, but definitely my favourite example of quilting in the show. One of the few quilted on a domestic machine, and also one of the few where the machine quilting really complemented the piecing.

Then: The Ballarat botanic gardens to look at some of the Begonia Festival shows and events.
Plant sale run by Friends of Ballarat Botanical Gardens. All plants $6!

On one of my visits to Ballarat last year, when either Mum or Dad was in hospital, workers were installing  these planters around the town. Now they are full of begonias.

Who knew Ballarat had some trams? I didn't, but I hopped aboard for a short ride before heading home.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spelling Spotting

While waiting at a tram stop I noticed both these examples of the sign-writers' art:
Is this a noisy restaurant?
Do these people know their business?

Mistakes like these always fascinate me. How do they come about? Is it the fault of the business, or the sign-writer, or a combination of the two? Does the business decide what the spelling should be, and not accept input from the sign-writer? Does the sign-writer get it wrong, but the business owner fail to notice or care? Do sign-writers look up words they are unsure of? I don't know, but I find photographing the mistakes irresistible.

Hope you had a good International Women's Day. Mine got off to a depressing start when I attended a university computing lecture in which only about 2% of the students were female.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Textile Exhibitions

Before my commitments in the city today, I popped in to the RMIT Gallery, where there are some wonderful exhibitions at the moment. No photos are allowed, but here's the advertising leaflets:
The Tamworth Textile Triennial exhibition "Sensorial Loop" was very interesting, but I absolutely loved Hannah Pang's "Double Happiness". Her manipulation of fabric is mind-blowing! The advertising leaflet really doesn't show how amazing her work is. If you can get to the city before 24th March, it is well worth a look (and entry is free). If you can't get there, this short video will give you a taste of both exhibitions:

There's also an interview with Hannah here which gives a little more insight into her works (and has some good photos).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mystery Gift

I assembled this pot as a gift for a friend's birthday:
I didn't tell her what sort of bulbs I planted in it, so they will be a surprise for her in spring.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Not What You Think

I may be wrong, but I think most people seeing this insect would think it is a bee:
It was feeding on nectar from flowers in my garden, but it is actually a fly; the drone fly, Eristalis tenax. It's not a native, and it lives in fairly disgusting places in its larval stage, but interesting anyway.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Overlocker Issue

My overlocker has been needling me today.
Fortunately I wasn't working on anything important; I was trying to test a t-shirt pattern for fit. What I thought would be a very quick job took ages because the needle thread kept somehow getting caught up, resulting in the mess in that top photo. I'd be sewing along happily, I'd hear a clunk, then discover that the needle thread was not where it should have been. It might not be obvious, but the thread should be coming straight down from the top of the photo, and through the needle. Instead it is coming down, then under the foot, back to the point I was at when the clunk happened, then forward to the needle. Not good!

To fix it I had to re-thread the machine. This is not a fun job! It takes about five minutes, and involves several handy tools, including these long tweezers I use to thread the needle:
After re-threading I'd test it, and it would sew perfectly. So I'd start back on the garment again, hoping I would get to the end of the seam this time, and sometimes I did, and sometimes the exact same thing happened again.

I don't know what the clunk was, because I couldn't see anything obvious happening. Has anyone seen this happening on an overlocker, or know what causes it? Maybe I should have changed the needle while I was re-threading?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Solar Powered

As the tiny manna gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) emerge, their seed leaves spread and capture energy from the sun to power the rest of their growth:
Less than two weeks since they were sown, 25% of the manna gums have germinated.