Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Facebook or not to...

Maybe it's a girl thing, we just love networking and chatting and gossiping, but the men in my life HATE facebook. "Don't believe in it" says one. "Tragic" says another. "Get a life" says yet another. One friend, who has his own facebook page, replies via email instead of on the "wall", because he doesn't know how to use it.

I've had my facebook page for almost a year, and in the last few months I've finally had time to explore what it can do. I have been able to find old friends, and it's fun, lots of fun. I have found three girls I went to school with. Several friends from uni. Friends from old workplaces. Friends from mothers' groups. Many of these people, due to geography and name changes, I haven't spoken to for 20 or 30 years.

Unlike the kids who "have" Facebook, I only have a handful of "friends", meaning they are actual friends, people I know and like. The teenagers have hundreds of "friends" and to me, they are mere acquaintances, often enemies! It's very uncool for a parent or a middle-aged person to "have" Facebook, and one of my friends was admonished by her teen daughter, who said, "Mum, you're not cool enough to have Facebook".

But I have found people older than me. Even grandparents! What an easy way to keep in touch with family and friends, by posting photos and a brief diary entry whenever you like. Just don't tell the teenagers, or the men in our lives, that we're signing up...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My new favourite magazine

Ooh ooh ooh I do love a new magazine. It's VERY expensive ($28.50 Australian dollars) but supremely gorgeous and I really don't know what took me so long to find it. Maybe not enough quality time spent at the Borders magazine department? Because that's how I found it, by accident, browsing while waiting to meet a very dear certain young someone in my life.

It's Selvedge magazine.

(I can hear many of you saying, well, derrrr.... okay, so I'm a bit, make that very, slow sometimes LOL)

Visit selvedge right now and you'll see a delightful vintage (1924) film clip of Australian sheep being shorn and wool being processed.

Another great find, courtesy of Selvedge magazine, the gorgeous creations of a Parisian designer, Sophie Digard, in softest merino wools. Each of these scarves is about 11 inches wide (27 cm). They are so finely crocheted they must have been made by tiny, but very busy, fairies.

Seriously, she is a very clever gal, almost as talented as me! ;-) I do love a combination of assured colour mixing together with deft technique.

The one thing I would like to know, is where her pieces are made and by whom. They are carried by a few retailers worldwide, so she couldn't possibly make them all herself. I am crossing my fingers that they are not sweatshopped. The prices reflect the amount of work in each piece, about $US270 at the moment. Even so, considering the time and labour, even at that price, costs would barely cover the bottom line. Trust me, I know.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Knitting with Australian merino wool

Once again, the issue of animal rights and knitting with merino wool has come up in one of the many discussion groups I belong to. I'm sure PETA's heart is in the right place, but whether any of them have actually spent time on a sheep property, seems unlikely. There are no easy answers, to any industry which involves animals. However, I totally respect others', including the vegan, point of view, and I think it's wonderful that plant fibres and synthetic products are available.

It's a matter of choice - and for me, that choice is based on what I can learn about the production processes of any fibre. To me, there's no point saying "I won't knit with wool because the sheep are brutally mulesed" (which is what PETA is saying) when I will buy a ball of bamboo yarn that's harvested by animal-powered ploughs and processed by underage, underpaid kids, using toxic chemicals which are banned in most countries.

These are extreme exaggerations, but my point is to learn everything you can about the effect of your purchase on animal rights, human rights, and environmental impact so you can make an informed decision.

Here's my post I sent to the Etsy knitters list (warning, it's long!):


Re: Save the Sheep! etc

For those who wish to use wool products, and who do not have wool
allergies (I have many allergies but not to wool), I would like to
clarify some points from my personal experience. For those who don't use
wool, don't want to, and who have allergies, none of the following is
relevant so I preface this by saying I am not vegan and just as I
respect others' choices, please respect mine. It is very possible, even
likely, to knit ethically with Australian wool.

I live in Australia, and have worked as a shearer's cook and seen
many shearing sheds, and I have shorn sheep myself. Even though
thousands of sheep are shorn each day, I have never, ever seen a sheep
treated cruelly. Quite the opposite. Most shearers are expert at their
job, and to see a merino being shorn, and its magnificent, pure white
fleece, coming off cleanly and evenly, is quite amazing. The sheep seem
to be relieved that they've at last got rid of their heavy winter coat,
and skip off into the hot sunny paddocks. Bottom line, if a shearer
damages the fleece, or hurts the sheep, it loses money for the farmer
and that shearer won't be welcome in that shed again.

I come from a long line of wool-producers here in Australia, and I can
honestly say after almost 50 years with a lot of my time spent on
country properties, I have never seen a sheep treated cruelly. Quite
the opposite, as the more pampered the sheep are, the finer and softer
the merino wool is. My aunts and uncles still produce superfine merino
wool, and practice this philosophy, even on huge properties. Mulesing
was already being phased out before PETA launched their campaign.
Mulesing is a primitive practice, difficult and labor-intensive, but in
the past it was a necessary preventive measure to avoid the misery that
is fly-strike, which kills sheep in a horrible, painful manner. Mulesing
was the sheep's equivalent of human circumcision, a temporary pain for a
longterm gain. One of the best new techniques, including plastic clips
and injections, is to breed merinos with less wrinkly skin, thereby
eliminating the need to remove surplus folds of skin (see the link below
for more information on all these techniques).

That said, there will always be cruel producers who mistreat their
animals, in every industry. They are usually the ones who go out of
business quickly because they don't love their animals and they
certainly don't love the wool that is produced.

Also, a major concern for me is environmental, that much of the world
wool clip goes to China to be processed, where the use of toxic
chemicals and harmful processes is unregulated. We can't afford to
process all our wool in Australia, and as China is so cheap, it goes
there to be carded, and to make it machine washable (as that particular
chemical process is not permitted in Australia - hmmm I wonder why).
Then the wool often goes to Europe and Italy to be spun and woven. So,
if I buy an average ball of wool in Australia, it's already travelled
the world, a ridiculous waste of resources.

I am not qualified to comment on the live sheep exports, as those sheep
are produced for their meat. To be honest, it horrifies me. From my
limited understanding, they are sold to Middle East countries and
shipped live because the cultural traditions demand that the sheep be
slaughtered in their countries, and according to the practices of those
countries and their laws.

I love knitting with plant fibres too, particularly bamboo and cotton.
But I also worry whether animal labour is involved in their harvest, and
what chemicals and environmental effects are involved, especially if
they're produced overseas. In many cases, human rights questions are
also relevant, with child labor and fair pay being non-existent in many
fibre-producing countries.

My advice, if you concerned about any fibre you use, find out as much as
you can about it. Where it's grown, where it's processed, where it's spun.

The hand-knitting market is only a fraction of the wool product. So even
if we all stop using wool for knitting, it will not affect the
manufacturers of clothing and fabrics, who are the main buyers. e.g. the
makers of fine business suits, such as Hugo Boss, and Armani, use
Australian merino wool for their fabrics.

If we all stop using wool, unethical practices will be even more common.
More sheep will be sold for their meat, and shipped live to meet the
demand in Middle Eastern countries. My advice is, if you love wool as I
do, ask questions and demand to know the answers, and insist on the best
quality fibre, processing and production, with minimal environmental
impact. It's a long complex process, but if we want to keep using
quality wool, and know that it is ethically produced, that is what we
all have to do.

If you would like to know more about how the Australian wool industry is
working to improve conditions for sheep, visit:

There is a link there to "Battling the Blowfly" which outlines some of
the anti-mulesing techniques being used.



PS I have no interest in any of these organisations, including PETA and
The Australian Wool Corporation. I am simply a knitter who lives in
Sydney. I have distant relatives who are wool producers in Australia.

That was my post.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Well, there wasn't much equestrian broadcast by our dear Channel 7 network (not much of anything apart from swimming LOL) so I turned to the OTHER olympics - at Ravelry! More than 5000 Ravellers took part from all corners of the globe, and we had to create our entries within the time frame of the Olympics, starting during the opening ceremony and finishing tonight!

Here are my entries for Team Freeformations, first a bag-to-be in the colorwork crosscountry:

And then a "Cricket Creams" creation (yes, we know Cricket is not an Olympic sport!) - it was supposed to be a scarf but turned into a bag and scarf matching set.

I'll be putting these in my etsy shop if anyone's interested in buying them! Embellished with ribbons and pearls. Very perty.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Colourful creations

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on some gorgeous commissions, all in pure new Australian merino wool.

Firstly, 2 pairs of wristwarmers for one lovely customer - this is one pair, and the other was in combinations of pink! Very pretty!

Secondly, a sweet little cardigan in purples and blues for a sweet little 3 year old:

I also finished a bag. It's crocheted from all sorts of coloured and textured yarns from my stash:

You can see these, and lots more like them, in my etsy shop. You're welcome to browse anytime, enjoy! If you have any questions about my creations, please contact me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Snow in Lindfield

Global warming? More like global cooling. Unbelievable scenes in our garden this afternoon.

Our front lawn:

The front garden:

I never thought I'd see our windowsill looking like this:

If this weather keeps up, we can always turn the pool into an ice rink:

It's so pretty!

The Weather Bureau says it was "hail". They are wrong. It all fell within a few minutes. We made snowballs. We threw them. It is snow.

We've always wanted to live in Tasmania, now we don't need to move.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Taliban-trained cockatoos

Don't get me wrong, I love my native wildlife. Even noisy, messy, hordes of little (well, not so little) fellas like this one above, when they decide to destroy my lemon trees, my passionfruit vine, my cumquat trees and my lime tree. Squawking and flapping their enormous wings, I forgive them every time.

My timber window sill is witness to the fact that they will try to eat anything. Recently, they tasted some styrofoam packaging which can't have been too appetising.

So, rewind 3 weeks, my internet connection started dropping out intermittently, gradually getting worse until Saturday when it disappeared altogether.

Today, Mr. Optus Man came, reassured me, oh no, everything outside is fine, it must be something inside. Physically impossible, I say, as I have reconfigured absolutely everything inside hundreds of times over the last few weeks.

15 mins later, he says, the outside cable is water-damaged. I said how did the water get in. Cockatoos have been pecking the PVC coating on the cable, and the rain has got in. An hour and a half later, we have a new cable installed.

But how long will this one last? How do I prevent future cockatoo attack? You can't, says Mr Optus Man.

So, are there thousands of people all over Australia, having their cables replaced time and time again due to cockatoos pecking them?

Have our government's security personnel looked at the possibility of Jamai'ah Islamiah training their own suicide bomber cockatoos to destroy our national telecommunications system?

Did the Pope, during his visit last week, innocently admire our native parrots, without realising they are actually terrorists, spying on him?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Etsy Green and Gold Sale! 1 July

The Etsy Down Under STreet Team (DUST) is having a special promotional sale of items which are green and/or gold - our patriotic colours!

Have a look at my sale items:

$5.00 OFF this glamorous metallic gold sequin scarf:


and $10.00 OFF this soft, warm boucle scarf:



Friday, June 20, 2008

Itchy trigger finger

Oooooh, I can't wait for this weekend. For five years of drought, our water restrictions have banned us from using a hose to wash our cars. Result? Lots of really dirty cars, and lots of carwash operators raking in a fortune.

Now, thanks to the "flooding rains" I referred to in a previous post, our dams are getting fuller and the gardens are growing again. So we're officially allowed to wash our own cars again, using a hose with a special trigger gun.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

How to Use an EpiPen

Watch this, it only takes a few seconds.
It's easy to use an epipen. Remember to call 000 as well, and go straight to hospital.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

embroidery and beads

I worked on this vintage-style bag while on a short break at Port Stephens, north of Sydney. It is crocheted from thick Aussie merino/alpaca/acrylic blend (INCA from Patons) using a smaller hook to provide firmness. The wrist strap is part of the basic bag piece so it is strong yet soft.
Then I embroidered flowers and leaves in a loose diagonal design, in various berry and wine shades, again in pure new Australian merino wool. Pretty, but it needed a little bit of sparkle. So I added tiny glass seed beads to highlight the flowers.
And lined it with hot pink fabric (because I hate dark bag linings, it's so hard to find anything!).

These little bags are perfect for day or evening, and easy to carry on your wrist. Roomy enough for coin purse, phone, ipod, lipstick, mirror. Available for sale in my etsy shop

Monday, April 14, 2008

Knitted puppies!

It had to happen - a cuff design featuring my dog, Frankie!

I've been knitting "frankie" designs for many years now - one was a pale blue jumper/sweater for my baby daughter, 12 years ago!

He's on a burgundy background here, let me know if you want the pattern for this and for any of my creations.

Friday, April 11, 2008


My dear DH bought some gorgeous orange tulips for my DD's recent birthday. So I was making this cuff, about to put in a traditional fair isle motif, and I thought "why not tulips?" They are such a simple shape, and so cheerful.

I do like cuffs. They have the impact of a wide bangle, and are far more comfortable. And you can co-ordinate them with a watch and bracelet. And a bangle too, if you want!

So here's the Tulip Cuff, with two vintage green buttons. I love it. It makes me smile.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

But wait, there's more...

Yes I've been getting back into my Fair Isle knitting addiction, must be the cooler weather here in Sydney. Case in point: yesterday's wristwarmers.

And here's a variation:

Thought I'd try a bit of jacquard patterning, while I was waiting in the car at soccer training.

Here is a pattern I sketched, then charted by hand:

Then knitted into a swatch

My daughter loves it. It must be really good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Awww, pretty!

Here are my new wristies, for sale in my etsy shop!

I had so much fun making these, and if I have to part with them, I'll have to make some more! Aren't they delicious!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Busy busy busy

The weather is still lousy and oh dear, I can't believe I haven't posted in SO LONG... I have been knitting and creating though, quite a lot, in fact. I plan to spend tomorrow photographing and uploading my newest designs (drum roll...)

Wristwarmers are featuring in my new items for my shop. And in the painting department, I have had a lesson with one of Australia's well-known traditional impressionist style painters, and learnt a lot. I have another life study to show you, in a completely different style from any of my previous works.

Meantime, the last few weeks? Okay, I'll itemise what I've done:
- nurse my 16 year old lame dog (frankie, the westie) back to health, isn't he cute!

- entertain my mother while she visited from interstate
- refurbish the lounge room, including painting the walls (!)
- paint and redecorate the upstairs bathroom (we call it the "powder room")
- host a 14th birthday party and take a group of 12 kids to a Japanese restaurant
- help my daughter prepare for her horse's first ever dressage event, (here is a closeup):

involving 2 hours riding and grooming most days, and 8 hours on the day before the event! First time is the hardest, after the 50th event, I'm sure we'll be a lot better at it!

Anyway, that's why I've been a bit lax on the computer front.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Of droughts and flooding rains"...

Dorothea MacKellar said it so well in "A Sunburnt Country". What is happening with our weather? I know it's "change of season", but icy cold one day, burning hot the next?
It is Autumn, after all, and despite the heat, I can assure you it will definitely get cold, eventually. So that I can enjoy wearing my new winter jeans and coat that I bought two weeks ago in a cold snap!

Australians love to write and sing about the weather, as did Crowded House in their song lyrics "Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you". My dear DH knows this only too well. He travels interstate with his work, and is famous for taking our Sydney weather with him. (Sydney weather, lately, despite having had six years of drought, has been extremely wet, with torrential rains and flooding, which mainly occurs in our rumpus room but that's another story - there must be a lot of plumbers on BRW's Top 100 Rich List.)

DH went to Melbourne, 1 1/2 hours flight south, hadn't rained for ages, started pouring as soon as he got there and rained until he left. Then Perth, 4 hours flight west, same deal, except it hadn't rained for months. Yes, it's all his fault, now you know who to blame. And he's owning up to Brisbane as well. So if you need rain, let me know, I'll fly him to you for a reasonable fee.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Elephant on the Keys

When I was young, my aunt Barbara visited and played a rip-roaring rendition of this fantastic tune and I was awestruck. 2000 years later I finally got Dad to send me the sheet music and 300 years after that I'm finally working my way through it, slowly and when no-one else is home (though I do feel sorry for the neighbours). I never realised I have ten thumbs!
Sometimes, it's easier to play by ear and eye than read music (and I hardly ever play by ear). As with lots of Debussy's music. I need to learn the notes, then look at the patterns my hands are making, and listen at the same time. Even with music, I'm a visual learner.
And Dad, if you're reading this, stop rolling your eyes! LOL

Friday, March 14, 2008

a peek inside my sock drawer

Well, I do like to have comfortable and colourful feet! Even in the middle of our hot summer I wear woollen socks under my boots for walking around arenas, paddocks, gardening, etc. They are so comfy, and keep my feet healthy too as they breathe and cushion my tootsies.
These are not all the socks I've made, there are others lurking around, plus some very lucky people (my daughter and my dad) have some in their drawers too!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A new painting

Long time no see! My thumb has finally healed so I'm back to typing. I've been spending several hours on the road each day in my various duties, and I'm afraid to say I have missed yet another Life class (I go to Life Drawing and Life Painting at the Royal Art Society of NSW). So I will have to make up a class.
But it's a good opportunity to show you one of my recent efforts, in oil painting, almost finished this study in two 3-hour sessions. The model is a dancer, so quite lean and muscly. That's why I put her next to my tiny framed Degas picture!

It's a tricky pose, she is poised as if just rising from a seated position, she is 3/4 turned away but her face is almost profile. I plan to finish the drapery and the background, and clarify her face without adding too much detail. I thought I was using way too much green and blue, but from a distance it seems to work.
What do you think? Apart from the fact that yes, it is a nude, and nudes tend to polarize and embarrass non-artists. So if you're polarised and/or embarrassed, don't say anything! Thanks.
PS: I have found my camera and my long-lost memory stick! Yay - and thanks to the person who found it, love ya darlz. So I'll be posting more stuff in the next few days. I'll try to post everyday and be a bit more organised now I can use my thumb again!

Friday, February 22, 2008


I am pleased to announce the results of my survey, conducted over a huge, wide-ranging sample of three very intelligent respondents:

It's official: turquoise is the best colour in the whole world, ever.
Well, at least it's more popular than Orange, Charcoal or Cream.

Turquoise - the fancy French word for "turkish" - turkish blue, aqua, jade, teal, aquamarine, seagreen - there are many gorgeous variants of bluey-greens.

Apparently it was Gianni Versace's favourite colour.
And is also Giorgio Armani's. Picasso was also an admirer. The colour of water, of the ocean, of David Hockney's swimming pools, of the metallic feathers on a lyrebird's tail in the Australian bush. And of course, one of my favourite birds, the kookaburra, features turquoise in the markings on its underbelly and wings, mixed in with earthy greys and variegated browns.

All that, and a fancy French name, as well!

Monday, February 18, 2008


well,thats almost what i said when theknife slipped and i almost chopped off the top of my left thumb last night. Had stitches and now on painkillers and ice, but I won't be knitting or crocheting for a little while. it's difficult to type with one hand, too, as I am normally a very fast touch typist.

Grrrr. So i will spend the next few days reading, and maybe some drawing, as I can do that with one hand.

another good reason not to cook - it's too dangerous!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two very different scarves

I've added two more scarves to my etsy shop, they are really different. One is the Crazy Daisy scarf, which I showed you in "bits" a few posts ago. Here it is, you might need sunglasses to look at it as it's VERY bright:

Now, a totally different scarf, one of my tweedy styles, more of a study in tone than the bouquet styles which are studies in line and colour. This time, the tweedy scarf is in blues and gorgeous greys. I used about 10 different balls of yarn, mainly 12 and 14 ply bulkies, in a moss stitch, just blending and changing colours as I went along. It sort of goes from a darker tone to lighter shades.

Here it is:

I've done this type of scarf in all colours, I did a red one, sold last November at an exhibition, I've done a purple one, and also a neutral one in earthy tones, which was commissioned by a client. There is a chocolate one in my shop, and I've also sold a "Shades of Grey" one, last year. They're a sophisticated, subtle design, and go well with a lot of coat colours, e.g. camel, brown, grey.

I almost called the blue one "Stormy Weather" but then I decided on "Moody Blues" after the band which made some of the pop music I liked back in the seventies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New goodies!

I've been working hard to finish some gorgeous new accessories now for sale:

My "Just Peachy" extra soft coral pink neckwarmer, $35 US.

My "Tequila Sunrise" pure merino wool neckwarmer, in hot pinks and reds, $30 US.

And my "Violet Buttercup" baby hat, $30 US. All from my etsy shop.

Still busy with finishing and photography on lots more yummy new goodies - now that my camera is working again - YAY! Thank you to my dearest daughter who is a genius. Love ya darlin'.
PS US dollars means it's cheaper in aussie dollars, I don't know exactly how much, just trust me on this one!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Technologically challenged

Why haven't I posted for so long? Well, a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of combining digital photography with house-cleaning, and unknowingly vacuumed up my camera's memory stick, which had fallen on the floor. THAT will teach me to vacuum! Anyway...

Went to Officeworks to buy back-to-school stuff for my DD, so took the chance of asking the sales assistant who informed me that "they no longer make that type of memory stick" and that I'd have to get a new camera. Ha? Well, following his logic, I would have to get a new computer and laptop as well, because the new memory stick won't fit those, either. The Husband was not impressed with this. Neither was I!

So, in between ferrying my DD to her many social engagements, providing holiday entertainment 24/7, etc., I turned the house upside down looking, as I thought, for the only memory stick in existence which would fit my camera, computer and laptop. No luck. It MUST have gone in the vacuum. It is rather small, after all.

I'd already thrown out the rubbish, so no hope of sifting through the dust bag. Off DD and I went to Harvey Norman, where an equally helpful and informed (NOT) young salesman again informed us that "they" no longer stocked my antique memory stick. When I asked if he was sure, he turned around and grabbed a product off the shelf, "well you could try this and see if it works". Great, except that the memory stick he showed us was about 100 times bigger than the one I wanted. On the plus side, there'd be no chance of vacuuming it up, but it was too big.

Then it began to dawn on us. These guys weren't LISTENING to us, they didn't have a clue about any of their products, even less about accessories. So, DD took matters into her own hands.

Scanning the shelves, her eyes fixed on one item, and she dashed behind the counter to grab it from the shelf. "Looks like this one, Mum". Yep, it did. And it does, and is. Ten bucks, it cost me. Thank you, Sandisk, no thanks, Sony.

How difficult is it, to hire and train staff so that they know what they're talking about? Pity my DD's too young to get a job there, she'd be National Sales Manager in a couple of weeks! LOL

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, school's back, so I have more time to blog, and I have a camera and computer and laptop which is WORKING so I can post pics.

So I'd better get to it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Stormy tawnies

Last week I visited Coffs Harbour for a few days. The weather was cyclonic, pouring with rain and high winds. This storm was moving down the entire coast of NSW so that most beaches were closed, including Sydney beaches.
Here is the usually calm Coffs Harbour (shot last year), a lovely, long sheltered beach:

...and here it is last week:

Driving back was a nightmare, with downpours, slippery roads and traffic. Some poor guy ran into the back of us in Kempsey. But we're all fine, including the other guy, only minor car damage. Took us 7 hours instead of the usual 5 1/2.

It was nice to get away from Sydney for a few days. In Coffs, we were lucky to meet some feathered friends, just outside the dining room. Here's one, a tawny frogmouth chick, one of three birds, one adult and two chicks, roosting there. They are quite drowsy during the day as they're nocturnal hunters, but they were very wary of me and my camera, also a couple of pet dogs (including Frankie) who were unaware of their presence.

They remind me of the family of Tawny Frogmouths who nested in a gum tree outside our own house a few years ago. As the weeks went by, we enjoyed watching the chicks hatch, grow, and learn to fly, under the careful watch of their parents. One baby fell out of the tree, and DH rescued him and put him back in the tree. They camouflage by assuming a pose which makes them look like a tree branch. PS Tawnies aren't actually owls - they're nightjars, whatever they are!

I finished another "bouquet"scarf - this time in bright colours - while away, and also finished a custom order scarf.