Sunday, June 30, 2013

Former Lemon Tree

The remains of a lemon tree in a nearby front yard, showing evidence of an extreme infestation of citrus gall wasp:
Last time I walked past it there were a few leaves hanging on, but now it is completely bare, and appears to have died. I don't know if it was the wasp that killed it. There is a cumquat tree in the same yard which looks quite healthy and has no sign of gall wasp. Presumably the wasps like lemons much more than cumquats!

I've had a small number of galls this year, which I am cutting out as I see them. But when there are trees like this in the neighbourhood, there is no chance of eliminating the wasp all together.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


A pair of ravens are building a nest in a tree down the road.
I think they are Australian Ravens, Corvus coronoides, whose breeding season is July to September. The tree is in someone's back yard, so I can't really get very close to it, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on  it in the coming months.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bundoora Homestead

Outing to Bundoora Homestead Art Centre to see Journeys in Cloth and Stitch, an exhibition of textile art by Jan Lowe.
The exhibition was very interesting, and well worth the trip.
Because I haven't been to the venue before I had a good look around the house and gardens. Shown above is the fanlight over the front door, which depicts garden scenes in painted glass and leadlight.

Below is the enormous sky-light over the staircase:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

City Lights

You know it is winter when you have an afternoon meeting and it is already dark when the meeting finishes.
Lights reflected on the Yarra.

It did give me the chance to see a little of the Light in Winter event in Federation Square:
The Helix Tree, a sound-responsive light sculpture by Bruce Ramus.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013


More unusual sewing. This time it is taking in a dog coat for a dog who is losing weight in his old age. I made this coat for him about 14 years ago, but he has lost a lot of weight since he last wore it.
I took this much off yesterday, but it wasn't enough and today I had to take off another 2cm or so on each side.

Rather than move the velcro fastening, I added an extra piece so that the edges just overlap more:
Fortunately the second lot of alterations were enough, and the coat now fits him. Just as well because it is going to be cold again tonight.

Meanwhile, the fencing contractors still haven't returned to work from their lunch break on Friday, so there is still no fence.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Scatterday - B

Today's challenge is the letter

and our categories are:
# Library
# Smell
# Equipment
# Blog


Brunswick library, currently closed for renovations. Photo taken on my way home from work. Not at great photo, but as you can see, by 4:50 the sun is nearly setting these days. However, after yesterday's solstice, our days can only get longer!

Hyderabadi Biryani
Biryani. Not my photo - hover over it for the attribution. It's a while since I had any Hyderabadi dum (steamed) biryani, but it is one of the most fragrant dishes you can imagine. And it tastes fantastic, too!

This wonderfully-described piece of equipment was found in a local Chinese junk shop. The picture shows the use of it, even if the words fail. The back of the package isn't much better:
It's a bag sealer! (Although if our letter was "S", I'd be calling it a simple, sibilantly-sliding sealer.)

It is always fascinating to see where blog visitors are from. This is an old screen shot from of visitors to my quilting group's blog, Quilters at Sussex. The "Sussex" refers to the street our neighbourhood house is in, although we do get a few visitors who are really looking for quilting groups in the English county.

So, that's it for the letter B. Be sure to visit Cinzia's blog to see how everyone else met the "B" challenge!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sunny Solstice and a New Fence

Today is the shortest day of the year, but it is also quite a sunny one.
In this photo you can see that two lots of my neighbours have their washing out to dry. Sorry neighbours! The reason that you can see them is that my fence is in the process of being re-built. This section was in very poor condition, so I'm glad it is being replaced. I'm just not sure the workers have enough daylight hours to get it finished!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shaping Up

I haven't done much sewing lately, but I did manage a little hand-sewing this afternoon:
This sunflowers project is now in one large piece. It just needs some bits added around the edges to make it as regular a shape as possible.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Keeping Warm and Dry

I made these coats for my dogs years ago, but haven't used them much because the dogs seem to be able to keep themselves warm enough. But now that they are getting on a bit (15 years, which is supposed to be something like 80 in humans), I thought they might appreciate a bit of protection from the weather.
Scruff, not quite in focus.

The coats have waterproof raincoat fabric on the outside and polar fleece on the inside, with velcro fastenings on the chest and the tummy. The dogs seem happy enough to have a bit of added warmth when walking on these cold damp evenings.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lovely Weather For

Pacific Black Ducks, Anas superciliosa

Monday, June 10, 2013

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea and some stitching with a couple of friends:
Enjoying the wintry sunshine.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Unusual Sewing

Here was a challenge! Make a coil of felt to fill an old tobacco tin, to be used as an oil pad for oiling tools.

I'd never seen the finished item, and for once Google let me down. Apparently there is one in the National Museum in Canberra, but the online record has no picture. Here's what I came up with:
I didn't have any wool felt, so improvised with some off-cuts of woollen fabric. So that there wouldn't be threads fraying off the top, I cut a strip twice as wide as the required height, then folded it in half and stitched it together. I then coiled it up and jammed it into the tin with the folded edge facing up. It took just under three metres of strip to fill the tin.

Later it was soaked in oil, and I'm told it works well.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

From Canada

When someone recently asked me what I would like from Canada, I remembered the maple sugar treats I enjoyed there so many years ago:
And here they are! Many thanks to the traveller who found them despite not really knowing what he was looking for.

I hope they will be as good as I remember!

Scatterday - X

This time it is the turn of possibly the most dreaded letter!
Our categories are
# hidden
# famous
# alive
# crosses in quilts.

As you will see, most of my photos were taken during a trip to one venue.

The "O" gate at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne is composed of multiple "X" shapes. Maybe the Xes aren't very hidden, but there is something hidden among the Xes.  Can you spot it?

At each intersection there is a flower medallion, except for one, which features this instead:

Xanthorrhoea, or Grass Tree, in the Botanic Gardens. Xanthorrhoeas grow very slowly, so this one must be hundreds of years old. It must have started its life somewhere else, as they are not native to the Melbourne area.

Xeriscape of the Arid Garden at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. When I was a kid I didn't quite believe that cactus plants were alive; they looked to me as if they were plastic.
Another view of part of the Arid Garden. I took these photos last week. I'm including a second photo because on Tuesday night this week someone attacked this garden and chopped down most of the tall cacti. It is hard to understand what would motivate a person to be so destructive. Staff at the gardens will propagate replacements from the chopped pieces where they can, but it will be a couple of decades before the cacti reach the size of those that were attacked.

Crosses in quilts:
Not actually on a quilt, but definitely related to quilts; this is the badge of the online group SCQuilters, or Southern Cross Quilters. Before I joined the group I had often seen the badge on women at quilt shows, and leapt to the interesting conclusion that a lot of nuns are quilters. In my defence, I'd never got close enough to read the small print. From a distance it resembled the badges the nuns wore at a Catholic school I once taught at, so I thought all the women with this badge belonged to another order of nuns!

As usual, you can visit Cinzia's blog to find out how everyone else met the dreaded X challenge.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Seedling Maintenance

Looking after the TreeProject seedlings is an on-going task. Maintenance involves checking for pests, removing any extra seedlings that have germinated in the tubes, and trimming any roots that are growing through the bottom of the tubes. Today it was the turn of the dogwoods (Cassinia aculeata, no relation to the beautiful dogwood trees of the northern hemisphere).
Some of them are large and ready to be planted out already, such as the one in the photo above. The bits that look like extra seedlings are actually branches of the one plant. But you can see in the photo below that nearly half of them are still very small and won't be ready for quite a while:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quilt Market Pin

Before Nikki headed off to Quilt Market in Portland, I asked her, if she got the chance, to pick me up a souvenir pin. I felt a bit guilty asking as I knew she had more than enough important stuff to think about and would be incredibly busy during her time there. But today she presented me with this:
Thanks, Nikki!

Isn't it gorgeous? I was going to say the badge is about 2.5cms square, but let's be honest, it was made for the US market so it is an inch! The purple is warmer in real life - usual camera problem. Would you have thought of putting orange, purple and dark blue together?

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Actually finished stitching yesterday, but here is the finished quilt, hanging on the wall:
167cm wide by 160cm tall, pieced by hand and machine, quilted by machine. I think the bottom border is bulging out from the wall a bit, rather than being completely wonky!

The design is my adaptation of Kerry Dear's Candied Hexagons pattern published in Quilters Companion 18.