Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Summer- the good, the bad and the tomatoes.

I'll be honest.

This summer.

It's been great. And it's been shit.

The shit part? Well that's kind of obvious. 
We have not been directly in the line of any bushfires, but Melbourne has had days choked with smoke from the fires in the Gippsland region to the east of our city. 
The view over Docklands in the Melbourne CBD. My camera has tried to clear the image so it doesn't truly show how horribly smoky it was.

On those days I keep my asthmatic Sonofagun No.1 indoors.  
And you know what? I don't complain about these days. Because the smoke we experienced in Melbourne was no where near as bad as the bushfire zones and no where near as bad as the capital city Canberra. I come from Canberra. It normally has crystal clear alpine air.
But for weeks it had the highest air pollution rate in the world due to smoke from the Sydney fires in the north and the South Coast fires to the east all blowing into the city, then not blowing out.

Everyday I was obsessed with watching the NSW Rural Fire Service app as the fires raced towards my parents town of Mollymook.

 Several times over last few weeks all roads in and out of the area were closed due to fire activity.
Fortunately Mollymook and Ulladulla is safe for now. But the Mothership and Fatherdom have been volunteering for the Red Cross at the local evacuation centre where they helped many people who have lost everything.
It's ridiculously heartbreaking to see the devastation to our countryside. To hear of the deaths of civilians, local firefighters and most recently 3 wonderful firefighters from the USA. And most particularly to our animals. A billion animals.
I have for a little while stopped watching tv.  Our politicians are too bloody stupid (particularly Scotty from marketing #notmyprimeminister) and the news is too sad.
So I've been making nests for wildlife carers.
 Crocheters can't pump out nests or pouches as quickly as the seamstresses but we are still all doing our part!
So the great part of summer? 
The Bear and I are starting to reap the rewards of all our work in the garden.
The indoor plants under the pergola are thriving...
One day whilst walking Chuck Norris, we found this cane coffee table base that was left on the side of the road.
We brought it home and the next day found a stone water bowl at a local shop that was the right size.
We added washed stones and pond plants.
 And a few days later we added fish!
 The water bowl also now has a little pump with a water spout.

The blackberries feed us and the birds. We just get enough for a snack while we're out harvesting tomatoes, yellow squash and herbs.
 The tomatoes are ripening more and more each day. Will it be pasta sauce or salad tonight?
 I love yellow button squash!
 I planted an artichoke plant for fun.
 Mini Lebanese cucumbers. We haven't harvested yet but they'll be ready soon!
This garden bed has Rapunzle and mini Black Russian tomatoes growing up the arch trellis, a new lemon tree in the centre, and borage and basil in the middle. Then 2 mini cucumber plants growing around the fencing on the edge. We had to put the edging in to keep Chuck from getting in there.
 I love putting Borage flowers in salads!
It will be pesto making time soon!

How has your summer or winter been?
Red Haired Amazona

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Pucker Up Lips cushion cover- Crochet Now Issue 51

Photo courtesy of Practical Publishing International Ltd
My Best Bloggy Buddy Vicki from Off the Hook for you in the UK had been nagging me to put in a submission for a pattern in a crochet magazine. Last June I finally lodged a submission to UK magazine Crochet Now. The call was for crochet pieces inspired by music. Soft romantic music.

I don't do soft, romantic music. I am very much a rock chick.
So I was sitting around trying to think of soft romantic songs and how that would inspire crochet. And then I'd vomit in the back of my throat a little bit. So I'd listen to some Led Zeppelin to help my universe recentre.
Rinse and repeat.

I then decided if I'm going to submit something, it still needs to come from my inspiration. What music inspires me?

In that moment I was listening to my favourite playlist on Spotify and a Blondie song came on "One Way or Another".
It's a real funky, driving song. Sadly it's a song Debbie Harry wrote after being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. But what a way to own it! So in a moment of inspiration I started googling Debbie. And found this iconic image.

 I whipped up a little sample of crocheted lips, wrote up a submission and emailed it off.
The next day I received an email from the editor Jenny asking if I could make that into a cushion cover.
Yes. Of course! And a week later she offered to commission my pattern!

It was a fun and challenging process. The magazine peeps including the editor Jenny and the tech editors I liaised with were all super lovely and supportive. Like really, really amazing! Quick to answer any questions and patient with this magazine submission newbie.  

And after making the cushion cover, writing the pattern, emailing back and forth with tech editors etc my cushion is in the magazine! Crochet Now Issue 51.

I love how they posed the cushion with a retro record player and vinyls.
This cushion cover is made in 4 pieces. The front, 2 pieces for the back to create an envelope opening to pop in the insert, and the Pucker Up Lips applique which is sewn onto the front. You then add tassels on each corner to finish it off.

It was made using this super soft squishy Scheepjes Colour Crafter acrylic yarn. It was so lovely to work with.

Unfortunately down here in Oz we get all UK crochet magazines a few months after they are released. But we gobble them up as there are no dedicated crochet magazines in Australia.

The Crochet Now peeps were kind enough to send me a copy which arrived in the post a few days ago. 

If you can get your mitts on a copy, check it out as there are some gorgeous patterns in this issue.
Crochet Now 51 is on sale from 9th January in shops across the UK. To find your nearest stockist, visit www.seymour.co.uk - or order online from www.moremags.com/crocheting (US and Australia readers can order online at MoreMags, or wait for exported copies around 6 weeks after the UK date).

You can also purchase a digital edition of the magazine via the PocketMags app.

Red Haired Amazona

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Yarn and plant

I have been finishing a couple of projects that I thought weren't really interesting to anybody but me and my progress was slow. 
I finally finished this big queen sized granny stripe blanket. I have crocheted a couple of rounds of single crochet, but can't decide whether to leave it as is, or do a few rounds of some other nice edging. I've looked online, but nothing leaps out at me. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
 In October I went along to my local crochet group. We meet once every 6 weeks at a funky coffee shop in a local warehouse space.

I didn't want to take anything too bulky, so packed my basket with an assortment of leftover 8ply cottons. I started making granny squares.
Photo taken by the lovely Tania Barry who organises our little gettogethers...
Then I made 5, stitched them together, then a simple round of single crochet and i had a table runner!
 Each one was random but for no particular reason, the first and last rounds were in the same colour.

 This was my favourite.
 So my evenings have been filled with basic crochet, no designing. I just wanted something to do with my hands while I watched Netflix in the evenings.

My daytimes have been spent outside.

Walking Chuck...

Raising babies from seed...

Aster 'Appleblossom'

Sunflower 'Giant Russian'. Makes me think they are chlorophyll versions of Ivan Drago.
Red and yellow capsicums (also called bell peppers north of the equator!)
Filling the vegie garden with good stuff to eat.
The Bear loves his potato plants.
Rainbow Chard
Blackberries on the fence, spring onions, the yellow squash plants in the bed.
The mint is actually in a ceramic pot, also basil seedlings, pineapple sage and strawberry plants.
We need a little fence to keep Chuck out.
The orange tree might give us some fruit this season!
 And filling the front yard with flowers.

It was starting to get a bit messy and weedy. As I sit here, the Bear and I have spent most of the day out here. First it looked like this...
 Now it's more weed free. I only trimmed the flowering stuff a little bit. It's mostly salvias and pelargoniums.
 All the pelargoniums were given to me by a friend whose mum grew them from cuttings taken from her garden. So I don't know what cultivars they are.

This delicious fat rose is 'Tess of the Durbavilles'

I've shown you this one before. 'Eyes for you'.

'Charles De Gaulle'
Coriander grows wild out there now. I just let it go to seed and sprout all over the place.

 Sweet peas have self seeded through the back flower garden.
 I now have a modest collection of hanging baskets. I like them grouped together.Especially as the plants are small and not very impressive. See that 'normal' basket hanging 2nd from the right? It was given to me by my sister for my birthday with some plants in it. I lined it with the thick paper she used as decorative fill, filled this with potting mix and planted 2 gloriosa Lily bulbs inside.

How's that for repurposing? I can't wait till they grow!

 So this is now my favourite spot to sit on a sunny afternoon like today!
 This is what I'm working on right now. What are you crocheting at the moment?
Red Haired Amazona