Tuesday, August 31, 2010

for baby Lincoln

mamaG's had a few merino commissions on the go lately...
Raglan sleeve tops, merino pants, antenna beanie and black zoo bib for a newly hatched baby boy called Lincoln.
If you have any queries or if you would like to place an order, please refer to my email address at the top of this blog. Or checkout my shop.
I have plenty of colour way and style options I can email through to you.
...have a goodie!
x mamaG

Monday, August 30, 2010

spring cardi

the kids have been sick, but all that home time meant i finally finished her spring cardi.
cabling also slows things down...
a kind of starfish before before I sewed the seams up
wool.... and pattern...
from this typically cheesey looking book...

with others ideas in it for next winter

...a good garment for bridging between the seasons and for cool summer evenings.

Friday, August 27, 2010

collecting in

gifts from little people

given in small unfurling hands,

special things they have found.

presented with big eyes, big heart, big smile

and a tilted head.

for you mama! i found it for you...

pulling me away from whatever to now

where i see what sweet babies they are, the pleasers, the heart melters, the impish little dreamers, the treasure gatherers.

perhaps having found these things, they don't know what else to do with them, but can't bring themselves to throw them away.

the innocence, the magic, the notion that the treasure found them first.

the mother acting as custodian of precious collections.

sometimes it is just because their pockets are uncomfortably full

and they still want for more

...lumps of smooth brick, broken glass bottles and smashed crockery

worn smooth by the waves, the salt and the tide.

my hair is filled with daisies, weeds behind my ears,

around my feet a circle of stones and oddly shaped bark and all manner of organic and inorganic matter,

my handbag sandy with shells and feathers and bottle tops and brightly coloured plastics.

still, i won't diminish the gesture of having given them to me

and i choose my moment to let them fall away, or add them to the garden or into a bowl on the bench for a while longer

...a little gesture of gratitude given back.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


even the dead are happy
charging chard
the spirited lass

spring shadow

Monday, August 23, 2010

hankie house

There are some handcrafts that I quietly scoff ...crochet sugar bowl doilies and pot plant hangers, fancy tissue box covers and the like. The purely decorative aspect with seemingly little necessary function. Craft for crafts sake. The-"don't you have anything better to do?'-crafting. The dust gatherers.

Previously, I would of put a 'hankie house' in that category of hilarious, time wasting,
craft practice. But having seen this and electing to make the switch from disposable tissues to regular handkerchiefs, I am full of praises for the practically of the 'hankie house'.

However, there was initially some contention and debate over this converting...

The Mr used to buy disposables, two jumbo boxes at a time, one for work and one for home, always an arms length away and adamant they were softer on the nose and more hygienic.

But it hurt my wallet to buy them and it never sat right with me.

I had a feeling that going to cloth (like the nappy thing) was likely to make me more organized and less likely to rely on some vague notion of convenience and expedience that tissue companies promote.

It seems to me the ads are brain washing us into feeling that tissues are a real need (in stead of a perceived one) and that anything else is some how unsavoury and regressive.

Aside from the disposability of tissues and the associated expense, I beg to differ when it comes to issues of hygiene and softness.

The cost of washing hankies is negligible when they are tossed in with your regular washing.
I estimate you can get about 10 years use from your average hankie (try not to drop it okay)

And how many people actually wash their hands thoroughly, every time they wipe their (or their children's) noses anyway?

...plus there's nothing worse in time of need, than finding a half disintegrated, dead tissue, drowned from the last wash in your pocket, and trying to unfold the powdery wad to use on a child whose big snot candle is about to drip into their mouth!

From my own experience and anecdotally substantive online research it seems well documented that a cotton hankie will always be much nicer on the nose than wood chip/pulp based tissues.

It must be noted though, that polyester hankies aren't so good.
A poly cotton mix is OK but the 100% cotton ones always feel the best. Voile cottons are divine. So too are the light weight linens. Silk is heaven.

As for the over compensatory practice of coating tissues in pseudo natural products like aloe vera and eucalyptus oil etc ...it's quite frankly more spooge I can do without. see here

My favourite hankies are the ones I've had for years, gifted by grandmas who knew good hankies when they saw them.

And here comes a confession with a stigma...

...if I'm out opp shopping and I spy a stack of talcum powder/granny smelling hankies straight from an estate nicker draw, I will scoop them up and suppress a squeal of delight to the op shop gods. The soft worn cotton feels like home (even if it is someone else's) and is good to use straight away, where as, the overly stiff, tightly woven hankies of new need a few washes to relax the weave.

Some of the much older handkerchiefs are worthy of a close examination (no, not for unwashed crusties!) but to really appreciate the handwork detailing:

...the ladylike fabrics with pretty floral motifs in the finest weave, the sentimentality of hand embroidered linens, the pretty crochet trims and delicate edging, the meticulous tatting and lace work made from minute holes.

Ebay has a surprising amount of vintage hankie-trading traffic going on.

Although this is a fairly affordable hobby (say compare to classic cars, or Victorian teddy bears) die hard hankie collectors will be willing to pay upwards of $100 US for rare and excellent examples of snot rags.

On that note, if you want to read about hankie collecting read this
But if you want to make a 'hankie house' like mine here's how:

fabric required:

front panels are both 2x 18x 20 cm
back panel is 22x 32
the handle is 30x 8 cms
zip 20-30 cm

finished size: 18x 30

Front: fold front opening hems under 1 cms twice and top stitch 1 cm on front

Back: fold the zip seam allowance under 1 cm both sides of zip. Sew in place.

Handle: fold handle in half length ways and iron and open, fold long sides into the middle, then in half again to make 30x 2 cm long handle

Sandwich front and back panels together and pin with handle ends protruding from the top (handle inside sandwich)

Sew 1 cm seam allowance around all 4 sides.

Turn right side out through the front opening and hand stitch front opening shut leaving 4 inch (10 cm) opening from which to pull your hankies out.
I used echino linen on the front and and tawny linen stripe on the back.

Ours is hung by our front door so that we can just grab one when we are on our way out (if we don't already have one in our pocket)

I generally go for the one hankie per person for one day deal.

At the end of each day they go into the wash.

So far it's working really well and no one is complaining!

So... I've taken things a step further...
...and I'm now making my own hankies!!

(I am boarder line embarrassed about this...and you may find it cringe worthy)

But...It only cost me $11.20 to make 16! (70 cents and maybe two minutes of my time each!)

They are 35 cm light weight 100% cotton squares, ironed and hemmed with a roll hem (or any basic hem you can be bothered doing)

Now all the men in my life will know what (cheap! eco! plaid!) presents they'll be getting from me for all the upcoming birthdays, christmases, fathers days etc

And to finish with a joke..

How do you make a handkerchief dance?

... Put a little boogie in it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

merino care

Recently, the evils of Sodium Percabonate and specifically the way it can ruin merino were bought to my attention. This worries me quite a bit, as I sell more merino than anything and I want to be sure my customers can look after their garments the best way possible.

So, you are hereby warned. Don't be laundering your merinos in anything containing Sodium Percarbonate or any oxygen bleaches for that matter. They eat into the fibres... think silverfish and old books and hungry monarch caterpillars. Go find yourself a nice hippy laundry powder instead.

Use plant based soaps and gentle powders where possible. They are better on the planet, on our clothing and our bodies.

The guys at Ground effect who use a lot of technical merino fabrics (they make great mountain biking garb) have spelt it out here.
Luckily, I have been using Natural Blend Washing Powder which comes in a huge 5 kg bag and doesn't contain any of the aforementioned nasties. Yay.
Also, I was once told by a fashion designer that cold washes are just as hard on fabric as hot washes. So, although I like the idea of using only cold water, I have struck a balance by using a warm wash followed by a cold rinse as the best way to get clean clothes and still reduce our power bill.

I always line dry my clothing and I would never recommend machine drying merino, as it is likely to shorten the overall length.
here's some mamaG homemade merino, well worn and loved by the adorable repeat customer baby Amelie.
...a serious post like this can't be without some cheer. Aaaaw ain't she something!

Friday, August 6, 2010

3 dinosaurs and a laptop

Stegosaurus likes to stop and smell the flowers.

Tyrannosaurus has a soft spot for ice creams.
Protoceratops is afraid of mice.
...I thought they needed a little humouring.
Stencils are from this book- a crafty gift from Grandma.
More about Pebeo pens here
A good stencil bush like this is recommended to prevent bleeding under the stencil.

Cheap laptop for sale... anyone interested?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


For the past few years we've been bringing a little bit of the Italian livelihood into our home, by making a regular thing of picking and preserving our olives.
When they start dropping from the tree and the birds begin picking at them, we know it's time to get the ladder and some buckets and get down to business.

I'm not sure of the variety we have (they certainly aren't fat Kalamata size but they are definitely tasty.) It took about 5 years for the trees to fruit enough before we payed them any attention.
We tend not to pick the ones that haven't ripened into a deep aubergine purple for fear of them being too bitter. But it says here that you can pick the green ones too.
The fattest ones are (as one would expect) always on the most northern side of the tree.
Friends of ours also have a big olive tree at the back of their lovely villa cafe. So, like the good gleaners we are, we collected a few from theirs to add the the mix.
Baskets seem to make gleaning and foraging that much prettier don't you think?

To brine your own olives...
Soak them in tap water for four days, changing the water every day.
To get the brine just right, place an egg in a bucket of water and slowly add salt until the egg floats to the surface (about 150 gms per litre). Place the olives and brine in a jar and preserve for three months. Rinse before serving.
I also like to add some garlic cloves and a few olive leaves into the jars before preserving... for a bit of decoration.

...don't however, do what I did one year and put them in agee jars using rusted screw bands. The brine will make the seals rust onto the screw bands and no amount of effort will prize them apart...doh. Ordinary recycled jars will work fine. I have had mine in the pantry for a year or more and they are still perfectly edible. Keep them refrigerated once opened.
I cannot emphasize enough how easy and worthwhile it is to try this yourself.
We are still eating our way through last years lot (below) although dreams of escaping to Tuscany are far from being put to rest!
Now... if I could just get together another dozen or so jars...all donations will rewarded with olives!

Monday, August 2, 2010

ironing boards made beautiful

The kids think I have gone mad.

I have just spent the last ten minutes photographing my ironing boards.

But this is the weird part... until yesterday I didn't even own an ironing board.

Then out of the blue, I bequeathed two.

One was dropped off by a caring friend (and a perfectionist sewer, who probably could no longer bear to hear of my making do on the kitchen bench with a bath towel)

The other, I spied on the side of the road like a stray animal.

I thought they could be friends.

But both were a tad tawdry, so I bought one new white stoppers for its feet and hacked up an old wool blanket and made new padding for both and then went all-out, and in the space of two hours sewed up two pretty new cover for them both.
One of the prints is an Amy Butler and other an old bed sheet.
The iron looks pretty happy about it and the boards look positively energized.
I found some good tutorials here, here and here.

I just noticed the iron is called "vogue" It always cracks me up when they try to brand domestic appliances by making them sound slightly alluring and sexy. It's being borrowed from my mother in law while she's away on holiday, in the hope that the iron I own (which recently fizzed sparks and smoke from it's frayed cord) can be re-wired by a certain clever man.

I also realized that it's made with Teflon which pretty much is banned around here... not that I'm going to be eating off it, but isn't there a risk of it over heating and releasing carcinogens? Anyway I prefer to err on the side of caution, except I very much doubt one can even buy an iron that isn't coated in the stuff.

...and while we're on that note, can't they make them look cool? like funky wee animals... they do have that giant mouse look to them.. have they done that yet with a computer mouse?...given them little felt ears?

The kids must be right, except they too must be going mad because they keep asking me when they can go surfing... with my new ironing boards.

I just might be mad enough to let them.