Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hook and Needles

Hi everyone.
Gee time has been flying by. It's nearly 2 weeks since my last post. After my very busy few days in Melbourne it took me a few days to regenerate the batteries and feel normal again, then my usual end of week activities (netball and craft group) kept me busy. Anyway I'm back now but I have been torn between this post, that I had started to do before I went away, or filling you in about all that has been happening. I decided to go with this one, because after all it is already half done, and hopefully I'll get time over the next couple of days to do the other one.

When I'm crocheting a large project, like my Granny rug (blanket), I usually have a smaller quick project on the go as well. You know, so I don't get bored, and I feel like I'm accomplishing something. Or sometimes an idea will hit me and I have to experiment straight away. That's what happened with this next project.
While I was searching through my stash for wool for the Granny rug I came across this piece of crochet.
I think I started it 10 plus years ago with grand plans of making a baby blanket or shawl but realised fairly early on that I didn't have enough wool so it got tucked away with all my other UFOs(Unfinished Objects). 
I thought it might look nice in different colours, so time to experiment. 
I like it, but then I remembered this scarf.
It is from 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazine a couple of years ago. I have made a couple of these, in different colours for friends. I really like the variation between the solid and two colour circles. Time to experiment again and this is the result.
A pretty scarf, isn't she lovely? The colours are really closer to those in the magazine photo but I couldn't get it to photograph the true colours, but you get the idea.
The completion of the scarf coincided with a friends birthday so she has gone off to a new home.

The other small project (or projects) I have been working on was a request from my daughter Heidi. She spotted this slouchy beanie in a shop.
She liked the look of the beanie but wasn't sure about the wearability of the colour and it was made with acrylic wool (we like pure wool better). So it was "mum do you think you can make me this in wool?"
As you can see it is made with fairly chunky yarn and I only have 8 ply(sorry not sure what that is in non Australian terms but it's not chunky) or thinner in my stash so I thought I would do a trial using 5mm needles (normally I use 4mm) with  the 8 ply to see if it achieved a chunkier look.
I was pretty happy with the end result considering I didn't have a pattern. Just needed to be a little longer, so it would slouch more, and the crown needed some tweaking as well but the fit was just right, not too tight and not to loose.
I showed Heidi while I was in Melbourne and she quite liked the colour but preferred a chunkier look so we went shopping for some thicker wool. We couldn't find a suitable pink so she decided on a grey because she will be able to wear it with anything. I bought 2 balls of 12ply and a set of 6.5mm needles.
When I got home I knitted a sample and worked out how many stitches I thought I needed and started knitting the chunky trial.
This is first trial but I decided it might be a bit tight (Heidi likes her beanies loose) so I started another one (I will still finish this one) with more stitches and it turned out just right. I think she will be happy with it.
The great thing about chunky wool and bigger needles is that beanies don't take long to whip up. I also love using 4 needles, no purl row, no seam to sew up and only a couple of ends to sew in, YAY! 
If anyone would like the pattern for the beanie (or the scarf) I can have a go at writing it out and I'm only too happy to share, just leave a comment. Some people are having trouble leaving comments here so if you do, you can leave the comment on my Facebook page. It's a public page so even if you're not on Facebook you should be able to access it via the link.

In other crochet news I have nearly finished the Granny rug. I have all the squares crocheted together but I have to order some more black wool from here so I can do the edging. I have something a bit different in mind for the edging. Something I came across when I was blog surfing but you'll have to wait and see. 
And some show and tell from Craft Group.
Sally brought in this crocheted christening bonnet and bootees.
The bonnet is about 100 years old isn't it gorgeous.
Diane as been experimenting with her crochet and using whatever wool she had to make dolly's blankets for her grand daughters.

It's a great idea for sampling stitches and I think she will be a very popular Gran, though I'm sure she already is.

Well that's about it for today.
Until next time


I would love your feedback.
You can either comment here, or you can also comment or follow me on Facebook 
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Thursday, 17 July 2014

More Than Flowers

Hi Everyone,
July is the month when the garden seems to take a deep breath before it has to put on it's show in the Spring. There are still a few flowers putting some cheer into the winter days but there is also plenty of other beauty and interest. So let's go for a June/July garden walk.

 I love the way the frost covers everything and then glistens in the morning sun.
 The birdies need ice skates
 The frost can even make the weeds look pretty

 Cockatoos enjoying the morning rays  
 Bare elegant branches of the gleditzia & silver birch against the far to regularly grey sky
 Seeds of the rain tree, silver birch & maple.
These succulents don't mind the winter frosts. The red one is green in the warmer months.
Not much happening here but red spinach & self sown parsley
Daphne and daffodils.

The mild winter has confused the Arum lilies, they shouldn't be flowering. 
View of the foggy Towong valley from their arboretum. 
Shaggy gum tree.
So that is some of the wintery garden. If the truth be told this post was going to be last weekend with more photos, but I had an lovely impromptu visit from my eldest sister from Campbelltown near Sydney on Sunday. Then on Monday I travelled to Melbourne to help my eldest daughter Cherry with some finishing touches and  preparation for a very exciting event which is happening tonight. That is a whole separate post though, but a sneak peak it involves this
or if you are on Instagram you can search #cherrycollinsofficial for more sneaky peaks.
Well anyway there goes the alarm, time to get my girl up and moving. There is still lots to do today.
Until next time


I would love your feedback.
You can either comment here, or you can also comment or follow me on Facebook 
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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Granny Square & Beyond

Hi everyone.
Have I told you that I coordinate a craft group at the local Neighbourhood Centre. The group meets on Friday afternoons and is open to anyone to come along with their craft and spend time with other crafty people.
Over the few years it has been running it has become mainly a patchwork group. I come with ideas or design projects that everyone can do, if they want, or they can do their own thing.
For a while one of the regulars, Sally, who is an experienced patchworker, has been bringing her knitting instead. She mentioned a few weeks ago that she loves crochet (particularly Granny rugs) but that she had tried to learn several times and for some reason she just couldn't do it. Well that sounded like a challenge worth taking on so I convinced her that I could/would teach her to crochet. With that a few of the other ladies piped up that they would like to learn or relearn too. So it was agreed we would do some crochet lessons and learn how to make a traditional Granny square.
I like to have sample to show everyone when I'm teaching but the thing is I have never crocheted a traditional Granny square rug.
I have crocheted rugs made of squares. 
I started this rug when I was 15 and finished it for my first baby at 22
And I've crochet quite a few other rugs.

A couple of hexagon rugs

A Bavarian or wool eater rug
African flower rug, a WIP
But not a traditional Granny rug.
So I drag out the wool and crochet hook and start cranking out Granny squares.
 and then crocheting them together.
This is the first time I have crocheted squares together instead of sewing them, and if you notice in the photo the squares are little out of alignment. I would love to know if this is what usually happens or if I'm doing something wrong, so if anyone out there knows I would appreciate some advice. Anyway I'm not letting it worry me too much as it's going to be a snuggle rug not a show piece.
At the moment the rug is 9 squares by 9 squares and I think I'll make it 10 by 10. I'm loving the way it's coming along, the colours look so bright and cheery against the black and it seems to be saying "come snuggle". I don't know why I haven't made one before, probably because I usually like to do something different from the norm.
Anyway enough about my rug and back to the craft group ladies. They have really enjoyed the few weeks learning to crochet. Some have even been inspired to go beyond the Granny square and learn other patterns.
These are Sally's Granny squares (50+) and just waiting to get a wool order so she can do the borders and crochet them together. So as you can see she has mastered the crochet hook.
Sally brought in this rug that her Grandmother crocheted about 80 years ago. It has seen better days and is beyond repair but I have worked out the pattern for the block so Sally can make one like it.
One of our experienced crocheters, Lyn, who has helped with teaching, brought in some of her crochet for show and tell.
This rug she crocheted for her Mum.
And this one someone else started and she finished.

She also brought in these beautiful hand embroidered doileys with fine crocheted edges that her Grandmother made.
Unfortunately I have only remembered to take these few of photos but I'm hoping to take some more in the next few weeks as the Granny rugs come together. Stay tuned.
I've also been working on another small project but I'll leave that for another post. Here's a little sneak peak.
I'm off to Garden Group today, the theme is 'What's Flowering in July" so I'll be back with a post about that too.
Until next time


I would love your feedback.
You can either comment here, or you can also comment or follow me on Facebook 
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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Five Out Of Hundreds

Hi everyone, I thought I would be back earlier than this but the week sort of got away from me and I might have got a bit side tracked doing some crafty stuff. Also I needed a bit of a computer break. I find that if I sit down at the computer I get sucked into looking at different things and before I know it hours have gone by and I haven't accomplished much so I find it easier to avoid it altogether. Anyway I'm back now.
This post is a reply to an invitation from Pip Lincolne from Meet Me At Mikes. I/we, her 'Blog With Pip'(BWP) students (I mentioned the course here), have been invited for a virtual cuppa at her blog to share five things we love at the moment and add a link to her blog post.

So I have a dilemma.
I don't have to worry about what I'm going to wear, something comfortable is fine.
I know what I'm going to drink, green tea.
I've even made a batch of macaroons to have with the tea.
(I have included the recipe at the end of the post)
No, the dilemma is
How do you choose only five things you love out of a hundred possibilities?
I could choose the five members of my family, but that goes without saying, they are always on top of the list and anyway they're people not things. Plus I don't know that they want their mother/wife raving about them all over this blog, that could be embarrassing. Anyway after much pondering over a few of days I have come up with five things I am loving right now.

As I mentioned last time the weather has been pretty foul here lately but I have been warm and cosy in our little house with the fire burning away. I love hearing the rain on the roof and the wind whistling around knowing that I'm safe and snug where neither can get me. And even when it's not wet or windy but it's frosty or foggy I can look out the winder and thumb my nose at the cold.
I am loving soup, which is something I tend to make only in the winter. I haven't always been a soup lover but since my conversion, I eat it nearly everyday in the winter. Some of my favs are UNnoodle, Pumpkin/Sweet Potato, Pea & Ham, Thai Style Tomato, Chicken & Corn, and my all time favourite Minestone (or Mine Strone as we call it in our house). I particularly like Minestrone the next day when it becomes Minestewy, but I reckon most soups taste better the next day, don't you?
I'm feeling another soup recipe post coming on. Which one should I do? Maybe you could pop over to the Facebook page here and let me know.
I am not a bigger reader of fiction but not because I don't like it. I love novels but they are a bit like the computer, once I start a good one I can't drag myself away and then I don't get anything else done. So fiction reading is a holiday activity.
I do however have A LOT of reference books, gardening, cooking and craft mainly, with a few human interest ones as well. I love flicking through the pages being inspired, learning new skills and coming up with new ideas. They are my main source of learning along with the internet.
I get most of my books online, only because we don't have anywhere to buy them in our small country town. I do love browsing in book shops though, if I get the opportunity, and always try to find something buy to support them.
I'm cheating a bit here because being creative includes, craft, gardening and cooking (3 favourite things). I love making stuff and can't remember a time when I didn't. It's essential for me, up there with breathing. I have gardened, in one form or another, since I was a teenager, cooked from whenever I was allowed (probably 7 or 8), but craft has been my main creative outlet since I was very small. My favourite day on 'Play School' was always Monday because it was 'Useful Box Day'.
At the moment crochet is the thing, mainly because that is what we have been doing at craft group and because it's winter and I only crochet in the cooler months. (I have a crochet post in the pipeline and will have it up here very soon)
This might seem a little strange. You're probably wondering what the heck is that. Well it started a year or so ago when RC(hubby) discovered music videos on YouTube. On Saturday or Sunday morning or sometimes both, when he doesn't have to rush off to work, RC sits with computer at kitchen table and selects music videos to play while we have breakfast. It started out as an occasional thing but has now become a regular weekend activity. He plays DJ and I dance around the kitchen. Yep, I probably look like an idiot but who cares, I love it.
There, five of the many things I love. Do you share some of the same loves or would you chose totally different things?
If you like you can pop over to Pip's blog and check out what some of the other BWP bloggers have written about.
And as promised below is the recipe for the macaroons. They are really yummy.
Until next time



Orange Almond Currant Macaroons

2 eggs
½ cp sugar
1 teas orange rind
½ cp chopped toasted almonds
½ currants
2 cps desiccated coconut
60g dark chocolate

Beat eggs and sugar together on a high speed until really light, fluffy and pale.
Mix through the rind, almonds, currants and coconut.
Put spoonfuls of mixture on a tray. If the mixture is a bit dry you may need to push it together with your fingers.
Bake at 180c for 10 -15 minutes or until partly golden brown.
Cool a little on tray before removing to a cooling rack.
Melt chocolate in bowl over simmering water.
Spoon melted chocolate into a small zip lock bag, cut a small corner off the bag and drizzle chocolate lines over the macaroons.
I dare you to stop at one.

©Michelle Collins – 18/6/2014

I would love your feedback. You can either comment here, or you can also comment or follow me on Facebook or Instagram @oneearlybird