Friday, February 28, 2014

End of Summer

The Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion exhibition at the NGV St Kilda Rd has been on since October. Yesterday I realised it closes on Sunday, so if I was going it had better be soon. Today was the day! I enjoyed the photographs and the fashions, and was glad I got there before it closed. No photos allowed, of course.

This is Rory Hyde's Bin Dome, a geodesic dome made of 1,000 Ikea waste-paper bins, and adorned with bromeliads and tilandsias to "return some of the quality of the outdoors that was central to Grounds’ original design for Federation Court, lost in the gallery’s renovation of 2002." (Quote from here.) I wonder what they will do with the plants once they are finished with them?

Back home, here is my Marie Antoinette dahlia enjoying the last touch of summer sunshine this evening.
Autumn will be here tomorrow.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Melbourne Now

Met up with quilting friends in town for our monthly get-together and lunch. Afterwards I joined one of them for a visit to the Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square to see some of the Melbourne Now exhibition. There's lots to look at, from the slightly creepy jewelled taxidermy by Julia DeVille, to a design wall featuring items designed in Melbourne including Keep Cups, glow-in-the-dark footballs, and lots more.

I liked this wall of spirograph-like designs by Elizabeth Gower, called "150 Rotations":
This one is constructed of tea packaging:
And this one seems to be from technology junk mail:

The foyer features several "rooms" by the Hotham Street Ladies. Apart from the actual furniture, the rooms are decorated with icing. Here's part of the loungeroom:
The granny square afghan rug is icing, the cushion covers are icing. The wall-paper is icing. So are the nail polish bottles, the leftover pizza, the cigarette butts and the remote control! This photo doesn't show it, but there is a colourful rug on the floor which is also icing.

Elsewhere in the exhibition I was quite taken with this coat:
It is the Luna Coat, designed by Strateus Carlucci for their 2012 collection. I will be looking through my patterns to see what I have that could be adapted to make something like it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hype of Activity

You may have to enlarge this photo to see all the grammatical errors on it; just about every sentence could do with some editing.
But what struck me as I was walking past was the term "hype of activity". Real estate agents know all about hype, but their command of the language is at times "ripe for renovation".

The Eggcorn Database doesn't have an entry for "hype of activity". A google search shows that this misinterpretation of "hive of activity" mainly appears in Facebook posts (no surprise) and Australian real estate ads!

Meanwhile, there has been lots of digging machine noise over the back fence this week, as pipes were laid for the plumbing of the four townhouses:

Golden Wattle

The second acacia species is starting to germinate:
Acacia pycnantha, Australia's floral emblem, above ground but still enclosed in the seed casing. One of two to appear today, 17 days after the seeds were sown.

That leave only one species yet to germinate. Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Someone's Growing

This afternoon Jack wore his harness with a lead attached, to start learning to walk nicely. He won't be allowed to walk in the street for a few weeks yet - he has two more vaccinations before then. But he has grown so much in the last two weeks this harness may be too small for him before he can use it!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jack and the Cat Stalk

The cat from next door sneaks in for a closer look as Jack is distracted.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More Seedlings

Candlebark, Eucalyptus rubida, sown nine days ago:
Quite a few of these have germinated today.

Manna gum, Eucalyptus viminalis, sown 17 days ago:
These are the only two seedlings in the whole 48 tubes so far.

Twelve days after they were sown, there are several blackwood, Acacia melanoxylon, seedlings up:
I always have trouble getting acacia seedlings in focus, but at least you can tell they look very different to eucalypt seedlings.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Letters

Made some lower case letters today.

Added later: I've linked this post to the Quiet Play Paper Piecing Party..

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

First Acacia and a New Project

The first of the acacias is pushing its way out of the tube:
Acacia melanoxylon seedling
Acacias have relatively big seeds, and the seedlings lift quite a mound of soil as they push their way up. This one is a blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon). It should be out and have its leaves open by tomorrow.

Meanwhile I'm planning a small wall-hanging incorporating some words, and have been contemplating how to make the letters for a while. But over the weekend I came across Quiet Play's patterns for foundation paper-piecing. She has created both upper and lower case alphabets, in a cute "typewritery" font. It was a lot easier to pay for work she has already done than to try and create my own, especially as they were both on sale (I don't know how long the sale is for), and they look much better than what I had been imagining I would do myself.

Today I did a test letter on the treadle machine:
This is a good project to do on the treadle, as it is like one of those beginner exercises of sewing along lines on paper to develop skills controlling the machine, but you end up with something a bit more useful than a piece of paper with lines sewn across it. So here's my capital D, made with some scrap fabric. The background is from a shirt I made in 2012.
 I was very happy with how it came out, so I chose some fabric and started work on the letters I need. They'll appear in a post some time soon, I'm sure.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some Germination

A day of rain yesterday, followed by sunshine today, has lead to some germination action. Here are a couple of swamp gum (Eucalyptus ovata) tubes with visible seedlings:
They were sown 12 days ago, on the 5th of February.

There are also a few seedlings in the boxes which have a mixture of swamp and manna gums (E. ovata and E. viminalis), which were also sown 12 days ago:
Given the shape of the cotyledons, and the fact that there are no seedlings yet in the box of manna gums, these are probably also swamp gums.

However, these ones are the real surprise of the day:
Lots of river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), which were only planted five days ago on the 12th of February! I was surprised as the packet said they would take 3 to 5 weeks to germinate.

So I have at least three species germinating now, with another 5 yet to appear.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Seedlings and a Puppy Harness

The first of my TreeProject seedlings have emerged!
These are tiny river bottlebrushes (Callistemon sieberi), which were among the first lot of seeds I sowed, eleven days ago.

Today I made a tiny dog harness, entirely sewn on the treadle machine:
I used Erin Erikson's Little Dog Harness pattern, available here. It does up with velcro, and has a ring on the back to attach a lead to. I made the smallest size but I think Jack may need to grow a little more before it fits.

His reaction to trying it on was to fall over on his back and attack the straps vigorously!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Summer Read

The State Library have brought their "Summer Read" program outside this year:
Red beanbags and boxes of books to read are scattered around the lawn. Details on their website here.

The books in the boxes are all either set in Victoria, about Victorians or by Victorian authors. And I haven't actually read any of them!
The battle for Lone Pine: four days of hell at the heart of Gallipoli by David W. Cameron
A world of other people by Steven Carroll
Sisters of Spicefield by Fran Cusworth
Love with a chance of drowning:  a memoir by Torre DeRoche
The memory trap by Andrea Goldsmith
Blood witness by Alex Hammond
Night games: sex, power and sport by Anna Krien
Is it just me? Confessions of an over-sharer by Chrissie Swan
Father Bob: the larrikin priest by Sue Williams
The swan book by Alexis Wright
I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of them showed up in my book club this year. The club's books come from our local library, and they seem to specialise in books by local authors they can get to do readings in the library.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Visitors from the North

Visitors who came close to missing their flight home this afternoon, because their time-keeping devices weren't set to our time! Not a good idea, as planes take off according to the local time zone, not the zone at their destination. Fortunately someone mentioned [what they thought was] the time and I could point out that it was actually an hour later than that. So they had to leave for the airport immediately, not do whatever else they were about to suggest.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Smaller Than Acorns

Whoever first marvelled that great oaks grow from little acorns probably wasn't familiar with eucalypt seed.

This is a river red gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis:
Note people on the path for scale. The tree grows to 40-45m tall, and lives for hundreds of years.

And this is the seed of the river red gum:
Seeds are about a millimetre long. (Acorns are several centimetres long.)

Today I sowed the last of my TreeProject seeds; one box of candlebark, Eucalyptus rubida, and two of river red gum. For once I remembered to take photos of the whole process, so here are the steps for the river red gums.

First, thoroughly mix a measured amount of native fertiliser through a measured amount of potting mix:

Then fill 48 tubes with the mix, to within a centimetre of the top of each tube:

Then add a label to the box, and a pinch of seed to each tube:

There could be 100 or more seeds in each tube. The goal is to end up with one healthy seedling in each tube.

These seeds are so tiny that they don't need a layer of potting mix over the top of them. The next step is to sprinkle smoke-infused vermiculite over the seeds, so they will think there has been a fire:

Then a layer of gravel to act as mulch:
Add water and wait! If all has gone well, river red gum seedlings will begin to appear in 3 to 5 weeks.

Once I had finished these, I had a good look at all the previous boxes, but there are no visible seedlings anywhere yet. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hello, Jack!

Meet the new member of the household:
1.01kg Jack, who moved in yesterday.

So far the other dogs aren't too sure what to make of him, but fortunately Sam let him snuggle up to her all night:
So everyone had a good night's sleep with no puppy crying.

Monday, February 10, 2014


I've seen hot air balloons in the distance on a few mornings recently, but this one was a lot closer to home:

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Not a very interesting picture, but you do get to exercise your neck again:
Stretch to the left! Three boxes of acacia seeds sown today. It might have been smarter to photograph what I did with the seeds (although you can see that in a 2012 post here). Acacia seeds need "hot water" treatment to germinate. Last night I poured boiling water on the three lots of seeds, then left them to soak until sowing them today. Two boxes of blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), and one box of Australia's floral emblem, the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Swan Sighting

Today I found myself near the lake again, so I thought I might be able to get a picture of the swans. I was on the opposite side of the lake from Wednesday, but of course, so were the swans! At first the two cygnets were on their own, but one of the adults swam over to them when it thought I might be a threat. I did manage to get a couple of shots on maximum zoom. Here's the adult with the two cygnets:
Looking at that photo I was concerned that the adult appeared to have something stuck on its neck. I checked my other photos and found a clearer picture, where is was obvious that it wasn't a piece of rubbish, it is a numbered collar:
So, what is the significance of "R13" on this swan's neck? That took a bit of googling, but I found this article
via an image search:
Citizen scientists, the black swan needs you.

The article describes a research project at the University of Melbourne, and includes a link to the relevant website, The website has lots of good info about swans, and includes a page to upload details of your sighting of a tagged swan. So I told them about seeing R13 today:

This is the confirmation screen. Now I know my swan is the father of the cygnets, not their mother. He is only a year or so old, and was first tagged on Albert Park Lake. He was seen in Altona a couple of months after he was tagged, before he moved to this suburb. Unfortunately I can also see that he was seen on our lake in January with his partner and 6 cygnets, so sadly 4 must have died in the last month. I also discovered that male swans have black collars, and females have white ones, so I will know which I'm looking at if I see one in future.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

More sowing

Took a break from a hot walk home to sit in the shade by the lake for a while:
Was very happy to see quite a variety of birds, including a pair of swans with two cygnets. Over recent years the number of feral geese on this lake ballooned until they seemed to be the only birds there. Four geese were dumped at the lake about 10 or 12 years ago, and they bred until there were a couple of hundred or more. But the council seems to have taken action. I only saw about 6 geese today, and the swans are back. I couldn't get a photo of them as they were on the other side of the lake, but I will try again another day when it is not so hot.

When I got home, I sowed four more boxes of seeds:
Two are swamp gums (Eucalyptus ovata), and two have a mixture of swamp and manna gums (E. ovata and E. viminalis). I don't know what happened there; I guess someone got some seeds mixed up somewhere along the line. Anyway, the seeds looked like mainly manna gums to me; they were quite a bit lighter in colour than the pure swamp gum seeds. It will be interesting to see what comes up.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Not Sewing, Sowing!

Looks like Blogger is making us exercise our necks again! Both these photos are turned 90 degrees from how I expected them to display. Just rest your head on your right shoulder to see them the way I took them.

Four boxes of seeds sown today. That's hard to type - my fingers think I want to say "sewn"!

Three are eucalypts:
One box of manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), and two of yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora). The manna gums don't need any special treatment to germinate, but the yellow box have a smoke treatment added to them to make them think there has been a fire. I presume they don't bother germinating under normal circumstances as the forest cover would mean they wouldn't get enough light to be able to grow. But once a fire has removed the forest canopy, light will reach the ground to allow a baby tree to get a start in life.

The fourth box is river bottlebrush (Callistemon sieberi):
They require capillary watering, so the box is sitting inside another box containing water. Once they've germinated they will be removed from the water bath and watered normally.

So that's the start of my backyard TreeProject forest this year. For more info about TreeProject, here's their website:

Sunday, February 2, 2014


An assembled top!

But where to photograph it? Spread on the bed doesn't work because it hangs down the sides.

Fortunately someone thought of suspending it over the garage door with magnets and clips:
Good idea! But it is just as well the borders aren't on yet, or it wouldn't have even fitted here. It is just over 2 metres square at present, because I made extra blocks to give me a 9x9 grid.

Rather than make all the extra blocks the same, I changed the construction of the chevrons in a number of the Birthday Girl blocks so that they created a star shape, while keeping the colour arrangement of the original. In this photo from inside the garage you can see one of my alternate blocks:
Love the stained-glass window effect of the light through the fabric!

So here, at last, is the whole thing:
My Summer Solstice mystery quilt! I think you really need to click on the photo to enlarge it to see it properly.

Thank you Bonnie Hunter, for another fantastic mystery experience!

Later today I will add a link to Bonnie's final Celtic Solstice link-up. I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone's quilts have come together!

Added later: Here's the link-up!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Not Snow

Parts of my garden are under a white blanket, but it is definitely not snow!
Some of the smaller plants are not coping well with the heat, but shielding them from the sun with white fabric seems to help a lot. The fabric is a some polyester crepe that was in the cabinet I saved from a skip last month. It would be horrible to wear because it seems completely impervious to water vapour, but that very characteristic makes it successful at protecting plants from desiccation.