Sunday 22 November 2020. #122

Hello friends! How is it that we’re nearly at December? Time is marching through 2020 and that probably suits the majority of people. This week was a relaxing week. On Monday, Julie and I went for a ride over to Huskisson and had a coffee at Portside cafe. It’s such a great spot but I think they could do so much more with the menu. I spent the rest of Monday relaxing after having our friends over on Sunday evening. On Tuesday, Iwent for another ride with Julie and this time we went to the Woollamia boat ramp and then Julie showed me the great kayak/SUP ramp at the end of Dent Street. It’s a great facility for this area and the tourists. It’s not something I’ll use much but I can see a kayak up Currambene Creek sometime in my future.

Wednesday morning’s sunrise was beautiful. The sun is rising so much earlier these days that I only see it on the days I go up to mind Evie. We had another fun day this week with a visit to the train park and some outdoor play with her Wiggles car, amongst other things. We are waiting patiently for the arrival of Evie’s little brother who is due this coming week! On Thursday I went for an early ride and even did a ten minute run on the beach. I’ve been wanting to reintroduce running since we move home from Bawley Point. I was able to chain the bike near the bike path but nearly forgot to check for landmarks. The bike wasn’t very visible from the beach.

The focus this week seems to have been on potted plants. On the way home from Wollongong I called in at the new Bunnings in South Nowra. This is now officially the biggest Bunnings in Australia and has the first escalator in Nowra. I purchased three new plants – a ficus elastica burgundy, a philodendron imperial and a ctenanthe amagris, along with a couple of pots. I already had the small pot at home along with a two others that I used to repot a couple of lilies that I’ve had for a very long time.

On Friday, I met up with Lorraine, Marie and Lorna for morning tea at Huskisson. Yesterday, I had a day out with my friends Mary and Karen and we had morning tea at a place just south of Ulladulla. It’s a Thai restaurant, cafe, pot shop and also has other home goods, now including Chrismas decorations. I mentioned that I’d visited a few weeks ago and I found the large pot below. I went back yesterday to get it and it was still there waiting for me. This one is to go in front of the side window in our front entryway. I have yet to decide what to put in there but I’m thinking a magnolia would look good as long as it doesn’t spread too wide. I may need to change that to something that grows in a more narrow way.

Knitting

Yes, I’m still working on the Slipstravaganza beast! It’s working out that I’m doing a repeat each week so it will take another 3 or 4 weeks to get this finished. I still have 19 rows to do before starting the i-cord bind off which will probably take a week on its own! I have no regrets with going for the big border – I wouldn’t want to bind off and find I would have preferred to go further. I’ll keep going as I’m still enjoying it.

On the other hand, the Cabled Baby blanket is starting to wear thin so it’s lucky I don’t have too much left to go. It’s just the constant cabling that I’m finding tedious and I’m even looking forward to picking up the side stitches and ribbing. I’m on the last ball for the main part and it will probably take this week to get that done. Baby 1 is due this week but probably won’t see this for a couple of more weeks. Not that he will need it at the moment as it’s getting very warm and this is one very warm blanket. It’s so hard to photograph the correct colour. I think the middle photo shows the colour best. You can see that I decided to fix the most obvious mistake and I’m very glad that I didn’t try for the other one that was much further down. It took a bit of concentration to get into a rhythm when I was picking the stitches back up and it looks a little rough but that will settle once I soak and block it.

My Shell Cottage socks are getting a little bit of love here and there. You can see me knitting with Evie during our lunch break. It’s a great project to take around with me but it’s only getting a repeat (4 rounds) or two each day. I’m not too far from the heels so I’ll need to concentrate a bit more then, once I work out how I’ll be doing it in reverse. Again the colour is hard to show properly. The colour of the socks in the photo with Evie shows the Pineapple yarn End of the Day colourway most accurately. It is really as bright as it shows there. 😊

Sewing

I’m still sorting through things in my studio and I’m always excited to find projects and supplies that I’d forgotten I had. For instance, I found these squares of fabric that I’d dyed during one of the many Lisa Walton classes that I’ve taken. I decided that I would use them to make a Carnaby dress by Nina Lee. I’ve had this pattern for a while and have had many plans for it (including some indigo dyed fabric) and finally settled on a wearable toile using this wild and wacky fabric. It will be a great dress for wearing around the house, if nothing else. As I had enough fabric I decided to go for the short sleeves as well. This dress has a short exposed zip at the top of the back but I’ve seen where someone left it open and used a button and elastic closure instead. That could be a good option for this toile. Another blogger reported that they didn’t bother with an opening at all, finding it was loose enough to put on. Teaser: The final photo with red fabric is a test that I’m doing for a new pattern release. It’s all very secret before the pattern is released so I’ll hold off on photos and information until then. The due date for this test is 30th November so I’m expecting the release will be soon after that. Again, the colour here is very red and in real life is more raspberry but still quite bright.

Patchwork

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Christmas is creeping up and not so very slowly, either! I have had two Santa sacks on my to-do list for a couple of months now but they weren’t a very high priority. This week I spent some time sorting Christmas fabrics in the studio and I brought out all my Christmas neutrals. The plan is to create the sacks with the neutrals sewn together so that it has a little more interest than using just the one fabric, and that way I’m using up all the small pieces. One of the sacks will have a Santa face and the other a Rudolph face and I now have the templates for those ready. I’ll also have a big letter E on the opposite side of one sack and the other sack will have a big letter of the new name of Baby 1. I’ll be putting a red border on the bottom of one and green on the other, with a similar facing at the opening.

Dyeing

Finally, this week I’ve been prepping some yarn for a dyeing project that I’ve been planning for a while. I was trying to decide how I would tackle this year’s advent knitting and I’m excited with what I’ve decided on. One of these is for me and the other is a gift – I know that this is going to be a spoiler but the surprise will be as much in the spoiler in this blog as when it’s gifted. I’m going to do a 25 stripe sock yarn. I have wound the yarn off double for each of these and I have a certain number of metres for the toe (stripe 1), x metres for each of the leg/foot stripes (stripes 2-23), x metres for the cuff (stripe 24) and x metres for the afterthought heel (stripe 25). As I’ve wound this off double, I’ll be dying each stripe for each sock and when it’s finished it will be two small balls of yarn so that the socks can be knitted two at at time. I hope that isn’t as confusing as it sounds! If it works, I might do some more. The yarn has been sitting like this for almost a week now as I’ve been thinking about how to dye the 25 different colours. I was thinking small take away containers – a problem getting them all into the microwave, or maybe laying them all on gladwrap on the outdoor table and working the dye into each stripe individually – a method I’d done with 22 stripes some time ago but that was a fade. I’ve settled on little snap-lock bags which I’ll put standing in a microwave bowl. The issue here is getting the dye onto the yarn carried between bags. Apart from the first and last bag, there will be four double strands coming into and out of each bag. Let’s see how this goes – watch this space! Dyeing will probably commence tomorrow.

Paraphernalia

I’m still watching Spooks (MI-5) on SBS On Demand and I’m now into the seventh season. The first couple of episodes of Season 6 had an awful feel of Covid about it! I’ve also started watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and really want to start the latest season of The Crown. In the book department, I finished The Law of Innocence by Michael Connolly and it was great. I have now started What my Sister Knew by Nina Laurin and it is quite intriguing so far. I have been following several series of books but it’s hard to keep track. I’m going to have to do a list of the series so that I can make sure I’m moving along in each of them.

This week, the family is on tenterhooks waiting for our little baby boy. I’ll be heading up on Thursday for a normal minding day but could be heading up earlier if Baby 1 decides to arrive earlier. I know that Kim would be very happy for that! I haven’t mentioned much of Baby 2 but he/she is growing nicely and on track for January.

My crafting focus this week will be on the Superman quilt (for Baby 1), some Christmas table runners I’m finishing for gifts and the dressmaking test. There will be a breakfast and definitely some coffees and bike rides shared. Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 15 November 2020. #121

Hello friends! Welcome from a beautiful sunny day on the south coast of New South Wales. The rains of the last couple of week seem to have disappeared, though we are getting a few short storms with the weather warming. This week has been quite a bit calmer than I’ve have for a couple of months. Monday morning started with a bike ride to our fortnightly breakfast catch up. I did manage four bike rides this week and they’ve been great with this beautiful weather. I got plenty of photos!

I had several days at home with a short visit to my friend Carol’s studio on Wednesday. I didn’t do any painting, choosing to work on my Slipstravaganza instead. On Thursday I went to Wollongong to mind Evie. We had a nice visit to the park and played with lots of her toys. She is such a gorgeous little human being! It’s wonderful how verbal she is becoming – there’s not a lot that we have to figure out these days. On Friday, I had lunch with a few girlfriends as I’d missed out on a birthday celebration the Saturday before. Yesterday was spent cooking mainly. I made some walnut choc chip cookies (not sure I’m happy with this recipe – not crispy), a banana cake and a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake slice. Other than than, I’ve had a bit of time for crafting but I’ve been concentrating on a few things only.

KNITTING

I’ve continued with my set of ten rows a day on the Baby Cabled blanket. It is growing very nicely and I’m thinking about how far I need to keep going. I have decided to add a ribbed border to each side which will stop the sides rolling in. Blocking will also help with that but I would like to make it a little wider with the borders. When I took the photo this morning I noticed two mistakes in the cable pattern. One is five cables down and quite noticeable so I will drop down and fix that one up. I’ve cabled to the front instead of the back. The other is quite a way down – fourteen cables down! It’s not very noticeable which is probably why I’ve missed it. I actually missed the cable completely in this one. I’ll see how I go with the first cable switch and decided whether I’ll drop down for the second or not. They are actually both in the same cable pair column.

My Slipstravaganza MKAL is growing slowly, due to the number of stitches on the cable. I have five cable/needle sets in for the photo so that you can see better what it’s supposed to look like. I did make a mistake in the second border row where I just purled back the whole row. As I didn’t want to tink back 906 stitches I decided to go with the “design change” and have that section as stockinette instead of garter stitch. I think it looks fine as a texture switch but will now alternate the sections so that every second one is the same, otherwise it will look silly. I don’t mind doing that but the purl rows will take much longer than the knit ones. Once I’ve done this pale grey section the pattern says I can finish the border there but I intend to do the whole lot. This is going to take some time as I still have 30 rows to do before I even get to the i-cord bind off. It’s lucky we are going into summer now so I’ll have plenty of time to work on this before I want to wear it. I do want to finish it quickly but I can realistically say it will take a few more weeks yet!

Last week I posted photos of our sock cast on while I was away with a few girlfriends. I actually did my toe on the wrong size needle so I restarted on the right size. I am knitting the Shell Cottage socks by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. This is one of the patterns in The Handmade Sock Society and it’s the first I’ve made as they are all written for cuff down knitting. The only and major modification I’ve made is that I’m knitting this from the toe up instead of cuff down as per the pattern. That hasn’t been an issue so far but I may find the gusset flap heel could prove tricky. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to do. If not, I have other toe up gusset flap patterns I can swap in. Another reason that I’m doing toe up, my favourite reason, is that I can knit till I run out of yarn. I’m using a sock set from Pineapple yarns and I have only 75 grams in total with the contrast colour. I don’t want to get to the toe and find that I don’t have enough yarn to make my foot size. This way the leg of the sock can be whatever size I can get. That amount is plenty to make socks but it would be too hard to calculate it exactly and either I’d have not enough or leftovers that could have gone into the leg. I’m loving the look of the shell pattern – it looks so pretty which I think matches the yarn perfectly!

SEWING

I got to wear my Marbella dress to lunch on Friday. I’m quite happy with the final result but feel that I could have gone down one size. It doesn’t look too big but I can feel it is too spacious. As it’s lined, I’m not going to make any adjustments (or I don’t think I will) as it’s fine to wear as it is. I intend to do another soon and it will be without lining which will make it much quicker to put together. I will also use the B cup for the bodice. I used the C cup for this dress but then found out that the cup sizes don’t actually match bra cup sizes. It’s great to have the option of different cup sizes and now I know how to use them. In the photo where my hands aren’t in the pockets I am holding a good two or three inches together at the zipper. I’d like the pockets to be a little lower and I’ll make the bodice an inch longer. My natural waist is lower than average patterns allow and I find this in ready to wear clothing as well. Lowering the bodice will also lower the pocket so I won’t need to adjust them.

PATCHWORK

The only other project I’ve worked on this week is finishing a patchwork WIP for a friend’s birthday. I purchased the kit for this quilt some time ago from Craftsy – way before it became Blueprint and is now back to Craftsy. Since then, postage from the US has made this sort of purchase a bit uneconomical. I do have a few in my stash though. 😊 I put the top of this quilt together a couple of years ago now but only just sandwiched the quilt last year. It was always intended to be a gift for my friend Debbie but it didn’t get finished before her birthday last year. Since then, all my stuff was pack away in storage for several months and I’m now finding lots of nearly finished projects. I’ll be working my way through them from now on so you’ll probably see them quite regularly. That is the plan, anyway. I had already quilted the main part and only had to stitch in the ditch in the stripped border. Once that was done, it was easy to add the binding (that I had already cut) and finish it off. Voila!

PARAPHERNALIA

There wasn’t a great deal of variety this week but I enjoyed focussing on what I was working on. This week I have plans to work on the Superman quilt, a couple of Santa sacks and Christmas stockings. I also have some Christmas table runners that will be an easy finish and were meant for gifts a previous year. I’ll be gifting these at the end of this month so they are also on the agenda.

I finished reading the latest Jack Reacher novel and, as with all his others, I thoroughly enjoyed. I have now moved onto another favourite author’s new book. Michael Connolly has another book out in the Lincoln Lawyer series – The Law of Innocence. I’ve only just started it but I think it will be as good as the other books. And I’m still working my way through the ten seasons of Spooks (MI-5), now well into Season 5. I have a long list of other things I want to watch too.

Unlike the last few weeks, this blog will be out early today. We are having some friends over this afternoon to celebrate the new house. The original plan was to have a large housewarming party but Covid has dictated otherwise. At the moment, the limit per household is 20 aside from the inhabitants so that’s what we’re having. We’ll have to do this in stages to have other people. The weather is perfect so I think it will be a lovely afternoon and evening. The baking I did yesterday is for this afternoon and I also made some nachos mince. I have a couple of other things to make today. Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 8 November 2020. #120

Hello friends! So much for the quiet week I was expecting. On Monday I was still in Sydney and Erin and I went for a lovely long walk around East Balmain. The jacarandas are currently out in full bloom, leaving their carpet of purple buds. There was one particularly steep street that got the heart racing and we called in at Euphoria Cafe for breakfast with a view of the Harbour Bridge. I mentioned last week that Erin had made some beautiful table arrangements and I was lucky to take home a big bunch of the leftovers. They kept me company in the front seat of the car. 😊

On Tuesday I finally managed to get a bike ride in, though it ended up to be the only one for the week. Tuesday was also Melbourne Cup Day and, as they say, the “race that stops the nation” went on as usual but without any spectators. I imagine that millions would have viewed the race on the TV. My friend Narelle had some of the girls over for the race and we all participated by dressing up for the event. It was a great afternoon with lunch, sweeps and our own race. We each had a miniature horse (and one donkey) and followed the track around the table by throwing a bouncing dice. The track was marked with different requirements either moving forward or moving backward. It was a lot of fun. Wednesday was my day with Evie and we had fun at the park.

The weather has been mostly wet this week with a few short breaks of sunshine. We even had a visit from a very large kangaroo who was enjoying our backyard. Our blinds were delivered and installed on Monday and I am really happy with how they look. For some reason they make the lounge room look even bigger.

On Friday, I was picked up by a friend and we headed to Bowral, meeting up with a few other friends. The mini getaway started with brunch at Kangaroo Valley and then lunch at Bowral with some shopping thrown in. Lunch was liquid for me after having a bacon and egg roll for a late breakfast. The house we stayed in was really nice and we settled in for a weekend of crafting, leaving just after lunch today. As usual, we didn’t starve, with everyone contributing to the menu for the weekend.

KNITTING

The Slipstravaganza Mystery KAL is now over and has been revealed, therefore I don’t need to worry about spoilers. I’m a week behind so far but I did manage to get to finish Clue 3 and start on Clue 4. Clue 3 finished with a row of short row triangles. It’s very hard to display the shawl because it really needs to be off the needles and blocked to get the best result. You can see the triangles in the last photo with the first three rows of Clue 4. The stitch count at this point is about 904 so the rows are taking some time to get through. The first photo below shows the Weavin’ Stephen method of weaving in the ends. I just need to trim them. It is much easier to do as you go along though the 26 short row triangles each had two ends to weave in so that really slowed down the rows. I have another 44 rows of 900 plus stitches, plus an i-cord bind-off so I doubt I’ll be finished this week!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I’d downloaded the KnitCompanion app (KC) – the full version, and I’m really finding it very useful. I’ve been using it for my Slipstravaganza MKAL and also for the Cabled Baby blanket. Because I was on a deadline, I tasked myself with knitting nine rows each day. I was already using KC to keep track of both the cable and the nine rows but I was using two separate counters for that. Last week, there was a new YouTube episode released by Very Pink Knits on how to use linked counters and that is working very well. I now only need to touch one button which increases my cable counter and also my nine row counter which I have now increased to ten as I missed a couple of days this week.

During this weekend, the girls wanted to know how to cast on two-at-a-time socks from toe up so I helped by demonstrating along with the Knit Purl Hunter YouTube tutorial. Everyone did a fantastic job and are well underway with their socks.

SEWING

I didn’t really cover my sewing properly last week. The Seamwork Laura skirt was an easy make. I used some linen from The Fabric Store in Surry Hills, Sydney. I find working with linen to be problematic as it moves a lot. In this case, I think one layer of the fronts that I was cutting must have been a bit buckled as the top edge was a good bit longer than the other. I was trying to work out how I would remedy this as I had already finished the side seam and I didn’t want to have to redo that. In the end I decided to add a pleat which worked really well. The other modification I made was to follow the option for the angled hem hack. The hack suggested raising the open sides by about 6 inches, which I did, but I think I would have liked it a little higher. I think I might consider making that adjustment at some point.

There wasn’t really time for any action at the sewing machine this week but I did trace out the size 3 pattern for a toddler jumpsuit. Simplicity S8850 has been in the line up for a while and I think it will be an easy sew. There are only 5 pattern pieces – a back and front bodice, a back and front pants and a tie. i will be using the purple chevron fabric shown and probably the dark purple dots for the lining. I may be able to cut these out this week though I have patchwork plans to start with.

RETREAT

Our mini retreat this weekend only lasted about 48 hours in total but we made the most of them. I wasn’t very good at taking photos but here are a few of what the girls were working on. For me, the weekend consisted of knitting only, though I did bring along some stitching that didn’t get any action.

ACQUISITIONS

On the way to Bowral we had to stop at Spotlight for some supplies; actually I didn’t need any but did pick up some fabric. There was a sale and I found the blue patterned fabric shown below which I thought would be good for a wearable toile to make the Victory Sofia dress. I don’t have the pattern yet but I’m hoping that it will be on special in the upcoming Black Friday sales so I will grab it then. It requires close to 4 metres and I didn’t want to by that at $36 a metre for some lovely fabric from the good fabric shops. Instead, this Cumbria Bubble Crepe Damask print in denim only cost me $42 for the four metres. The other fabric below is a remnant that I couldn’t resist. It is an Oriental Slub Crepe in a blue spot, though it’s really more a spruce/teal colour. The piece measures 1.4m x 145cm and only cost $12.60.

PARAPHERNALIA

This week I finished watching the Longmire series and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I mentioned last week that I’d started on the ten seasons of Spooks, though I understand it’s called MI-5 in the US. The reference to spooks is those of the ghostly variety. I’m now well into the third season and it has been great, even though the first few are a little dated as it started in the early 2000s. I’ve also started a new book, this time it’s the latest Jack Reacher novel, The Sentinel by Lee Child. It’s proving to be his usual fast paced style though this one was co-written by his brother, Andrew Child.

I’m hoping that this coming week will be a little quieter than those I’ve had lately! I have some quilting that needs to be done so I’ll be starting on that tomorrow. Again, this blog post is late but I’m keeping to my arbitrary rule that it needs to be out on Sunday, Australian eastern time, so I’m OK with that. Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 1 November 2020. #119

Hello friends! Happy Halloween from Downunder. 😇👿 This has been one hectic week! After a quiet start on Monday with a breakfast catch-up, I had preparations for visitors that kept me busy until they arrived. The weather has been very wet and miserable and I didn’t get even one bike ride in. The only day I could have ridden was Friday morning when I was entertaining guests and the sun shone beautifully. Early Tuesday morning, I was in the queue at Aldi waiting to grab a special. I purchased two bedside tables which were easy to put together. Lucky I had my sock knitting to keep me occupied.

The visitors arrived on Thursday afternoon and I’d made a banana cake in the morning. We had a couple of drinks at the brewery and the weather was very kind to us. After that we had dinner at the local Indian Restaurant at Huskisson. On Friday, our visitors went down to Mollymook where one couple have a holiday house and we met up with them all for drinks at a lovely place called the Altar Wine bar. It’s an outdoor area attached to a former Church that had been turned into a home. I actually knew the owners who converted it and they had done a fantastic job inside, keeping the essence of the church. The outdoor wine bar was a beautiful setting and I’ve included many photos because there was so much to photograph, including some very old gravestones.

After a pleasant evening at the Altar wine bar we headed to a restaurant in Milton to have a pleasant evening. Early on Saturday morning I headed up to Sydney to prepare for a baby shower today. The drive to Sydney was probably the worst in my memory. The rain was so hard and there was thunder and lightening, water planing and driving through water. The rain continued today and it was good that we’d discarded the picnic idea and had a luncheon in a lovely upstairs room of the local Royal Oak Hotel. We made a raspberry and white chocolate cake and Erin put together several floral arrangements. It was great catching up with all of her friends. Kimberley came too and we’re all excited that she has only three weeks to go until her little boy will be making an appearance.

Knitting

I finally finished the Turtlepurl yarns self striping socks. I find it very handy to have a pair of socks on the go as they are perfect knitting for waiting in queues, coffee shops and for taking on the bike. I have now handed over the socks as they were a birthday present for my dad. Also shown below is the yarn for my next sock project. I’ll get this next one started in the next few days. The yarn is a one of a kind from Pineapple Yarns and it’s been in my stash for some time now. I’m looking forward to see how this yarn knits up. Instead of a vanilla sock, I think I may do some with a pattern this time.

I have made some progress on the Cabled Baby blanket but not in the last few days. I’ll need to do some catch up. I did have one cable pointing the wrong way but I noticed it only after three rows so it was easy enough to drop down the six stitches and swap them around.

SPOILER ALERT: Slipstravaganza. It’s probably not a big spoiler as I am way behind. I wasn’t able to get any knitting done in the last couple of days so I wasn’t able to get onto the next clue. Fortunately, last night I finally finished Clue 2 and I’m looking forward to picking up on Clue 3 tonight. Clue 4, which is the final clue, was released on Friday so I have a some catching up to do. I’ve been avoiding the posts on Instagram as most have a spoiler photo but there have been a couple that have just put the picture up. Lucky I realise before I actually see what it is but it probably wouldn’t matter at this point.

Spinning

I finished spinning bobbin number 5 of my Ixchel Fibres December 2019 batts but I haven’t yet start on bobbin number 6. I’m sure I’ll get some time to do some spinning this coming week so I hope to have that well underway by next week’s blog post.

Sewing

Early in the week I was able to spend some time at the sewing machine to work on my #wfhmodulesewalong and I finally finished it. I was able to post the picture of the 5 items in time for the deadline today. The deadline was 31st October but US time so that gave me a little bit more time to get to it. I’ll probably have better photos next week but you can see below that I finished the Seamwork Laura skirt. The six items were the Marbella dress by Itch to Stitch, Laura Skirt by Seamwork, the Sheona dress as a top by Athina Kakou, the Pietra pants by Closet Core patterns changed to a skirt, my denim jacket that I’ve had since the 1980s and the Peppermint Wrap top by In the Folds. You were allowed to have something from your wardrobe, or made previously or thrifted as part of the module. I think I’ll be moving onto baby things next.

Paraphernalia

I didn’t really get into my audiobook this week, only listening for a little while. It sounds really familiar so I’m wondering if I have already read it. I have almost finished the entire series of Longmire and I’ve also started watching Spooks (on SBS on demand) – they have the full 10 seasons and I’ve been wanting to watch it for ages.

I’m looking forward to a quiet week coming up, before I head off for a weekend with a few girlfriends. We’re heading to Bowral and will be staying in a nice house, relaxing and getting into some crafting together.

It’s another late posting this week and I feel like I’ve rushed through it all. I hope to be able to work through next weekend’s post at a more leisurely pace. Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 25 October 2020. #118

Hello friends! I’m very late with the blog today as I’ve been up to Wollongong again for more festivities. After last weekend’s birthday festivities, I had a very slow day on Monday after waking up exhausted and with a headache. I took a “sick day” and spent it mainly on the lounge with my knitting. I didn’t even go down to my studio! On Tuesday, I was feeling much better and rode over to Huskisson with my friend Julie to meet up with some friends over coffee. I then spent most of the rest of the day in the studio. On Wednesday, I was in Wollongong with Evie and we had a great day out at a different park. This park has a fence all the way around it and, though the activities are for smaller kids, it was perfect for Evie and she was able to run around from one activity to another. The park is right next to a huge mural that you can see below. We’ve had some heavy winds this week and on Thursday I found that my tomato plants had fallen down. Fortunately they weren’t actually broken so I was able to re-stake them – which I had been meaning to do for a while as they were getting so big. There are lots of little flowers and hopefully soon lots of little tomatoes. On Friday, Julie and I rode over to Huskisson again for breakfast with some other friends. Today’s activities in Wollongong were for Kimberley’s baby sprinkle. It was a lovely gathering of her friends over some yummy afternoon tea. I had made apple and pecan friands along with some Portuguese custard tarts. I also make some chocolate cupcakes using a vegan recipe as I had to make something without eggs, dairy, cashews or peanuts. I think the cupcakes worked well.

The weather this week has been up and down with a couple of beautiful days. Unfortunately, today wasn’t one of them and the baby sprinkle had to be inside due to the rain. It has rained steadily since yesterday afternoon and I think that will be great for the lawn and for filling our water tank. It is predicted for rain for a few more days.

Knitting

The Turtlepurl Yarns self striping socks are very near to completion. The other day I decided to put the afterthought heels in so that I can see how much further I needed to go. The afterthought heel method I like to use is one by Kirbywirby Yarns. With this method you leave 2 stitches at each end so that you don’t end up with a gap at the join. It works really well and I grafted the stitches using the Knitting with Suzanne Bryan tutorial on How to Kitchener (Toes) Without Ears. You can see how smooth the finish is with this method. I am now back onto knitting the leg and I think I’ll just finish off the white section I’m on and then do the cuff in the dark red. I’ll try them on again once I near the next black section and if necessary I can knit a little bit more.

The Cabled Baby blanket is on track. Last week I mentioned that I’ll try to do a repeat and a half each day and I’ve managed this, doing 9 rows religiously until today. I have not yet had a chance to do any knitting so today’s quota will have to be written off. I think I allowed for a bit of a buffer with that calculation so it should be fine. I’ll get back onto it tomorrow.

SPOILER ALERT: Slipstravaganza. I’m currently working on Clue 2 (Section 3) and I am exactly halfway. I didn’t get to this much this week so I’ll need to do some catching up. The first photo shows Clue 1 (Sections 1 and 2) and the other photos show Clue 2. The lighting wasn’t fantastic this morning and the close up is showing some brown, of which there actually isn’t any. It’s actually bright teal, light teal and grey. I’m hoping I’ll have better photos next week when the whole section is finished. Each section has looked better once it was all done and it will also be so much better once it’s blocked out at the end. Clue 3 came out on Friday but I haven’t yet looked at it. I’ll wait until I finish Clue 2 before I do. The project has, as predicted, slowed down due to the number of stitches. At the end of Clue 1, I had about 269 stitches and the first row of Clue 2 took that number up to over 400 and each row is increasing. It does make each row take a lot longer to knit. I will definitely be working on Clue 3 by next week’s blog.

Spinning

I finally finished plying bobbins three and four of my Ixchel Fibres December 2019 batts and I’ve started on number five. It has been slow going because I have been using some of my spinning time on my knitting. That’s OK – it’s still coming along and there’s very little of this bobbin to go now so I’ll be starting on bobbin number six.

Sewing

I did spend a bit more time at the sewing machine this week. Last week I had left off on my Peppermint Wrap Top before adding the sleeves. I did that early in the week, attaching them with French seams. You can see how many pins I used. The top is finished and it fits, though I only tried it on very quickly. I know there are some blogs that explain how they made bust adjustments so I may check those out as I think I’d like to make another one of these. This is the second finish for my #wfhmodulesewalong.

I had a little spare time yesterday morning and I finally put together a Sheona top that I had cut out in January this year. I had wanted this navy top to go with a skirt and it never did get sewn up. Mostly because it turned cold and winter arrived but now I need it. It took about an hour to put together so it was a really quick win. This is finish number three for the #wfhmodulesewalong. And I actually wore this today with the skirt that it was intended for, though it also goes with the current module.

A late entry to my #wfhmodulesewalong is the Seamwork Laura wrap skirt. I had some remnant linen suiting that I got into my mind would be great for a wrap skirt and I was going to use the bottom part of the Charlotte dress pattern that I’d made up recently. In the end, the fabric I had wasn’t enough but I was determined that I was going to make a wrap skirt. I found another piece of linen that I’d purchased for my Metamorphic dress and, though it was a large piece, it still wasn’t enough. I had found a pattern on Seamwork for this Laura wrap skirt and it was easier to download that than to modify the Charlotte pattern. I then spent some time wondering how I could colour block using two of the fabric pieces that I have and in the end decided it wasn’t going to work. I came to the realisation that I was never going to wear the Metamorphic dress as it really did not suit me at all. So I put it to another use instead and used it for this wrap skirt. I have put the main part of the skirt together, using folded in seams. I’m not sure if they have a name but I thought that French seams would be too bulky and I didn’t want to just serge them. I think this works well. I only have the band sections and hem to go on this. Instead of doing ties, I’m going to add a button on each side so that there is less bulk and it will work with my Peppermint Wrap top. This will be #wfhmodulesewalong item #4.

I have not yet finished my Marbella dress but I did try it on. It fits but I will just take a little bit off the bust seam before finishing it. Once I’ve done that, I only need to join the skirt lining back section and stitch it down onto the inside zipper seams. Then the hems and it will be finished. That will make my #wfhmodulesewalong #5.

Patchwork

Early in the week I got working on the Superman quilt and have almost finished the backing. I have used up all the fabric that was left over from the front piecing and I just need to add some white sections to make this the size I need. I hope to sandwich it this week so that I can start quilting it next week.

Acquisitions

I have started thinking about Christmas and I have at least one more stocking that I need to make for this year for Baby 1. I know that there will be another for next year for Baby 2 due in January so I wanted to get a couple more in preparation. It’s really hard to know exactly what size the panels are when you see them online and the minimal measurements are hard to work out with the shape. In the photo below, the red one is the fraternal twin of Evie’s that I made last year and her stocking is larger than the rest of the stockings for the whole family. Of course, all stockings for this generation will need to be the same size and I thought the ones I’d ordered would be about the same size but you can see here how much bigger they are! And because of the design, I can’t really cut the size down. So I’ve gone back to the drawing board and ordered some more. Fingers crossed they are about the same size or even a little smaller. I can easily add a border if I need to.

Paraphernalia

I finished listening to my book early in the week as I couldn’t put it down. That was Robert Galbraith’s third book in the Cormorant Strike series. I very nearly just went straight to the next book but decided instead to go to the next book in my list which was Karin Slaughter’s Piece of Her. Another compelling read and I have already finished that one too! It was full on from the very beginning and kept the same pace right to the end. I finished that one yesterday and today I started a new book – Truth and Lies by Caroline Mitchell. I only managed a short stint on that today so I haven’t got a feel for it yet. On Netflix, I’m still working my way through Longmire. I’ve now started the sixth and final season – I think that may be the real finale as that season was released in 2017 and there aren’t any more so far.

It’s been a long day so I’m going to leave it there. I have a few things happening in this coming week, including a visit by some old friends. Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 18 October 2020. #117

Hello friends! Today is my husband’s birthday and we celebrated it last night at the same time celebrating our daughter’s birthday, which was on Friday. Evie had her second birthday on Wednesday and there is a small birthday party for her today. So, at the start of this blog, I’m coming to you from Wollongong. My week started with a breakfast catch-up which was very enjoyable. On Tuesday night I hosted Book Club and on Thursday we went to the Brewery for a couple of drinks and dinner. We have a rogue chicken that is hanging around the back of our properties. It obviously comes from a nearby neighbour in that area but it has had free range in our three backyards while we wait for the fencing. That is still a few weeks away. I’ll have to go down and see if there are any eggs hiding somewhere.

It’s been another cooking week, and all sweets. For Book Club, I made a Sicilian Apple cake, recipe from NotQuiteNigella, which was a big hit. It will now be in my rotation as it was very easy and very yummy, but does require a lot of peeling and slicing of apples. On Friday, I made a Zuppa Inglese for last night’s celebration and you can see it here with a little slice missing. Evie had dinner before our Indian takeaway meal arrived so we let her have some birthday cake for dessert. It was a huge cake and we are working our way through it Yesterday morning I baked RecipeTin Eats’ My Very Best Vanilla cake for today’s birthday cake. This recipe is touted to last fresh for four days. I can attest to it being great on the second day. The bear is in honour of Evie’s Big Ted, who is really quite small and is also her dad’s original bear. She is very attached to Big Ted and we were concerned at what she would think when we sliced up the cake! All good; I’m sure she understood it was just a cake.

Knitting

My Turtlepurl Yarns socks are growing slowly as I’ve only worked on these a few times this week. They won’t take much longer to finish the leg and there seems to be plenty of yarn left.

I haven’t spent too much time on the Cabled Baby blanket but it’s coming along. I’ll need to make more time for this one as it will be needed soon. I have worked out that I have probably another 50 cable repeats and a rib to do and Baby 1 is due in 36 days. If I do 1.5 repeats (9 rows) a day, I should be able to make it.

SPOILER ALERT: Slipstravaganza. This week I have been working on the first clue and was going quite well until Stephen West released a Part 2 of Clue 1. I’d say the extra release is because the first part was not very large, which I thought was unusual. The second part is not difficult but it has lots of slip stitch rows. When I added the third contrast colour I was concerned that it might not have much contrast to the first part. I was also concerned that this contrast colour would blend a little with the black as there are many speckled dark/black sections. I stopped knitting and got out lots of different skeins to see if I should go a totally different colour but, in the end, I stayed with the original and I think it is working out fine. Clue 2 came out on Friday but I haven’t looked at it yet and I will wait until I finish this section.

A couple of weeks back I started knitting the City Limits sweater with my handspun yarn. Once I got past the short row section and started in the round I realised that I didn’t like the fabric that I had – it was much too loose. So I have now frogged that project and will look for something with a smaller needle size. The City Limits used a 4.5mm and I think it will look a lot nicer with a 4.0mm. I’m not in a hurry at the moment so I’ll see what alternative project I can find.

Spinning

This week I finished the fourth bobbin of my Ixchel Fibres December 2019 batts and I’ve started plying bobbins three and four. I haven’t spent as much time spinning this week as I’ve prioritised some knitting instead. This one will be finished in the next day or so and I’ll then move onto bobbin number 5.

Sewing

I did spend a fair amount of time working on my Marbella dress by Itch to Stitch and it’s not far from finished now. I put the skirt part together followed by the skirt lining and then the zipper. I did a great job on the zipper and I find that the basting helps so much when you are lining up the waist and bodice seams. I had to adjust the bodice front seams so that they fit onto the skirt for that section. There are two back seams, the zipper seam, two front seams and the side seams. They all lined up perfectly except for the front middle section. It wasn’t hard to undo a little and move the seams over a bit. When I was putting the skirt lining together, I managed to add the skirt backs inside out – you can see the seam and the nice dart in a photo below. The darts were easy to remove and do on the other side – easier than undoing the side seams. 😊 You can also see the lining of the dress before I put the zipper in. I had been hanging the dress and it seems that the lining has fallen somewhat. I’ll be attaching the lining to the dress at the waist and I’ll see if that raises the hem a little. Otherwise, I’ll need to remove an inch or two from the bottom of the lining so that it doesn’t droop below the skirt hem.

During a little break from my Marbella dress above, I decided to move onto another project for my #wfhmodulesewalong set. This one is the Peppermint Magazine Wrap top by In the Folds. I’ve had this free pattern for quite some time now and I have wanted to make it. There are so many of these tops out in the wild and each time I see one I want to make it. I am using some stash fabric, totally unknown content but it seems crisp like shirting. It is quite thin so I’ll need to wear a camisole under it but it will be a great wearable toile if it works out properly. The consensus is that the pattern comes out a bit on the big size so I rounded down just a little on which size I cut out – I think it’s size D. It’s a very easy and quick make so I’m well into it with only a couple of short sessions. I only have to add the sleeves and finish the bottom, I think. This is made with French seams which is great for an unlined garment. I have made one other garment with French seams, including the sleeves and that was another Peppermint pattern – the Ruffle Sleeve top.

Paraphernalia

This week I finished the Book Club book, Night Over Water by Ken Follett – just in time for Book Club! It was a bit predictable but still an entertaining and fun read. I’ve now moved onto the third in the Cormorant Strike series by Robert Galbraith. Despite her unfavourable notoriety lately, she writes a great book and I’m churning through this quickly. I’m into Season 3 of Longmire and have barely started Spooks from the very first season.

I don’t have too much happening during this week apart from babysitting on Wednesday and then some cooking for Kimberley’s baby sprinkle next Sunday. That will be a nice cosy affair in Wollongong with a few of her girlfriends. It’s been a very long day as we are now back home after the party so I’ll head off to do some knitting on the lounge – it’s just about dinner time so I won’t get a lot done beforehand. Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 11 October 2020. #116

Hello friends! I hope you’ve been enjoying some lovely weather because I certainly have. Here on the south coast of New South Wales, we are enjoying a wonderful introduction to spring. Last weekend was quite wet but, since then, the sun has been glorious. I’ve been out for a few early morning rides and so have a lot of other people around here. This past week was still school holidays, ending this weekend, and we can look forward to a more normal existence now until December. It’s even been hard to get out of the local supermarket carpark because of the increased number of vehicles around so I’ve limited going anywhere. I went to Wollongong for my babysitting day with Evie on Wednesday and on Friday morning I visited Carol’s studio for a little while. I only took my knitting as I had to leave early but the girls were doing ink painting, oil painting and mosaics.

I left Carol’s studio and headed up to Wollongong to babysit Evie again, this time for two whole nights while her mum and dad were away enjoying a short break before Evie’s little brother comes along. They call this a “babymoon”. So many new names for things that weren’t a thing when I was that age. 😊 Evie and I had a wonderful time together – yesterday we had a full day together and went to the park in the morning and then, in the afternoon, we had a bit of fun on the beach. Her nanny picked her up this morning; basically a handover as she will be there now until tomorrow afternoon. I missed here when she went!

Knitting

My Turtlepurl yarns self-striping socks are proving to be very portable. I’ve passed where the heel will be and am now working up the leg. I think I will probably use all the remaining yarn for the leg. I have the remainder of the 20gms contrast yarn that I used for the toes and I’ll use that for the heel too. When I get closer to the top, I think I’ll add the heel before I finish so that I can see if I have enough to knit the cuff too. Evie was having lunch while I was knitting and I also did a few rows while I was waiting in line at Aldi. I was there early the other day so that I could get a travel cot that was on sale but none had arrived due to supply difficulties at the moment.

I have made some progress on my Cabled Baby blanket. Last week I only had a cast on and two rows to show. The cable is a very easy pattern but it’s slow going due to the small needles I’m working on. It’s coming along nicely though.

SPOILER ALERT! Slipstravaganza has started and if you don’t want to see the start of Clue 1, please scroll down very quickly. Though I must say it’s not a big spoiler as it’s very hard to see what is going on. Stephen West’s 2020 Mystery Knitalong (MKAL) started on Friday night (our time) and I had packed all the yarn and necessary items for my stay with Evie. She sleeps very well from 7pm so I had the evenings to work on this. As usual, this MKAL is very addictive and I only want to work on this project! This pattern is a honeycomb and is looking great, though will look better once I get a little bit further. I’ll have more to show next week and we’ll see if I’m up to Clue 2 yet.

Spinning

On the nights I’ve been home I’ve been working on my second skein of my Ixchel Fibres December 2019 batts. I finished bobbin number three and I’m working through bobbin number four. My spinning has taken up some of my knitting time lately, mainly since Tour de Fleece #2, and I may cut that down a little now that I have several knitting projects on the go.

Sewing

I finished Evie’s latest Geranium dress and she had to put it on when I gave it to her. That’s probably a good thing because she is fitting it perfectly and won’t be able to wear it for long. It wasn’t a warm day on Wednesday but it was fine with her little skivvy underneath. She has certainly shot up and I’ll have to go up a size from now on. While I was there on the weekend I was able to take her measurements for the next dress I’ll be starting on soon.

I was able to spend a good portion of two days working on my Marbella dress by Itch to Stitch and I’ve now finished the bodice. When you add a lining, it essentially means you are making two items and sewing them together. I used some rayon in this beautiful caramel as I couldn’t get any lawn at spotlight – it seems to be working well. It has more drape than lawn would have and has a “memory” that I don’t like but it’s only a lining. The memory I’m talking about is that it shows marks – when ironing, it will show anything underneath and even stitching causes marks, see the echo line along the stitching in the top right picture? Fortunately these marks will disappear but you need to be careful, when ironing particularly. I’m looking forward to making the skirt section this week as that won’t be as involved as the bodice was. Then I’ll have my second go at installing an invisible zipper and I hope it goes as well as my first one.

Dyeing

This week I dyed my first lot of yarn this year! I mentioned last week that I wanted to dye two skeins for the Slipstravaganza MKAL and here they are. I was waiting for a portable electric cooktop which arrived on Wednesday. On Thursday, I got to use it though it wasn’t such a successful attempt. I put cold water into the baking dish and it took forever to heat up. Note number one – use hot water next time. I managed to dye the black but I ended up finishing most of it in the microwave. That was fine for what I was doing this time but for other types of dyeing, eg speckles, I’ll need to use the baking dish. Once the black was done I added some burgundy and some teal which is very subtle, though you can see it in the pics below. The yarn is not superwash so the black didn’t take as a deep black; more like a dark charcoal. It looks very dark in some lights but in sunlight it’s more of a dark grey. It has turned out fine though I did end up adding some more burgundy to one of the skeins that didn’t really show any at all. I wanted the two skeins to be similar so that it doesn’t look like a different yarn when I start knitting on the second one. I’m hoping it turned out OK as I left that in the microwave cooling on Friday morning and left without thinking about it. It’s now hanging in the afternoon sunshine to dry.

Acquisitions

A couple of weeks ago I found some new fabric stores in Australia via the Dahlia Sew-ciety podcast. There were several that came highly recommended and I have been looking through their wares. I found this beautiful caramel Atelier Brunette lightweight viscose with a beautiful drape. The colourway is Moonstone Ochre. It was a pre-order through Seamstress fabrics and I thought I could think about what I would make with it while I was waiting. I have several projects on the go so I wasn’t worried about the wait but it turned out arriving more quickly than we thought. I was so excited to get it – it’s certainly beautiful looking in real life and it has a beautiful feel. Kat from Seamstress fabrics included a lovely card which mentioned that I got a bit extra as it was the very beginning of the bolt! What a wonderful surprise. I will have to wait until I finish a couple of things (mainly the #wfhmodulesewalong) and until I make the decision as to what to make. I intend to make a toile of whatever I choose as I’ve been burned before in using beautiful fabric only to find the style doesn’t suit me.

Paraphernalia

I have been catching up on my video podcasts and working my way through Longmire on Netflix. I am also hoping to start on Spooks on SBS on demand as they now have all the seasons available. It’s always been on my list but I never got to watch it. I finished Girl Woman Other and have started a new book for Book Club called Night over Water by Ken Follett. There was another book that was recommended, called Mullumbimby, but many of the other girls are not enjoying it so I didn’t even start it. The Ken Follet book was written in 1991 but is proving quite enjoyable.

Things are going to get a little hectic from now. This week I’m hosting Book Club at my place on Tuesday night. I am trying to decide what fancy cake or tart to make as that is the custom with hosting. I also want to try a vanilla cake from RecipeTin Eats that is supposed to stay perfectly fresh for four days. I’m making Evie’s birthday cake for next Sunday and I think this one will work well. I’ll probably do that tomorrow. I’ll also be making a Zuppa Inglese for Robert and Erin’s birthday celebration on Saturday night. I’ve mentioned this cake before on the blog – I’ve made it for the past 20-odd years! So there’s going to be lots of cake making this week and again for the following two weeks for Kim and Erin’s baby showers.

I’ll be off now to do some more Slipstravaganza knitting! Until next week, I hope you are all keeping well and have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!

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Sunday 4 October 2020. #115

Hello friends! Welcome to October and daylight savings time here in New South Wales. The sun has been coming up very early in the morning and I’ve been waking with it. That’s because we don’t have blinds yet. I’ve had a few quotes and we are ordering them now but they will probably take several weeks before they are installed. At least daylight savings will help for a little while. Today is a beautiful day and we’re looking at reaching 31 degrees Celcius but I think the sea breeze will be keeping it down well below that. I started this morning with some breakfast and knitting on the deck. My mother-in-law stayed the night so it was great to have some time on the deck before the nor-easterly comes up. I had to move over to the chair near the sliding door as the sun was shaded from my face there. I’m not sure if I mentioned the tomatoes that I had planted in a pot on my studio deck but there are now two more pots. The larger one contains two heirloom mini tomatoes and they are growing very well. Last weekend, my son-in-law, Shaun, gifted me a couple of tomato seedlings that he’d sprouted which I put each into a smaller pot along with some chives seedling that I’d purchased. He also gave me some basil which I put into the larger pot – one is doing OK and the other is struggling a bit but I think it’s coming good. Fingers crossed a possum doesn’t find them.

Last week started with a breakfast catch-up at Huskisson on Monday with some girlfriends. This time I tried the granola and it was amazing, but huge! That was followed by a facial which was wonderful. On Tuesday, I had a cook-fest as our friends Peter and Sue were visiting to check out the house and have lunch with us. I didn’t take many photos, particularly none of the final products. I made a barbecue glazed meatloaf and a potato and sweet potato bake. The meatloaf recipe is for mini meatloaves but I always make it into one larger loaf as it’s less fiddly. For sweets I made pecan and apple friands and Portugese custard tarts. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I always cook these together. The friands use egg whites and the tarts use egg yolks so it saves waste. If I leave one or the other for later I tend to end up throwing it out. I use frozen sweet tart cases for the tarts which is so much easier. This week, I rode my bike on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Wednesday was very hazy though it’s not showing so badly in these photos.

Thursday’s bike ride was much clearer and there were so many SUP riders out on Myola point. I’d say it has to do with it being school holidays and the area here is filled with tourists. All the camping areas are about overflowing! I had an appointment with the Blood Bank on Thursday so I managed to get some bits and pieces for the house while I was in town. The mirror in the walk in robe needs some double sided tape and no nails – these ones specifically for mirrors and my pegboard in the studio needed plasterboard screws. While I was waiting for my turn in the Blood Bank I managed a few rows on my socks. On Friday, we had a good view of the controlled burn on Beecroft Peninsula though it turned out it wasn’t too controlled. It was mostly smoke clouds during the day but the night photo shows the fire. I normally post photos of the sunrise from my bed but this time I was watching the fire glow in the full moon.

Yesterday I had a fun day with my friends Mary and Kerry. On the way down the coast, I called in at a local garden centre and checked out some ideas for garden edging. I’m thinking either rusty metal or the leftover slate tiles that we used for the front entryway. Mary, Kerry and I had coffee before we headed off to the local art and craft show. I also had breakfast, not having had any before I left home. The craft show was a disappointment as it was very small and took literally five minutes to walk through. From there we went to a Thai restaurant-come-cafe-come-garden centre on the south side of Ulladulla where it was coffee time again. I’m looking for a tall pot for the front entry and I got lots of ideas there. I did purchase a lovely pot for the hall table in our entry.