Dolls

Jorth and Galumph were snuggled into bed, slowly drifting off to sleep. It had been a busy few days of non-stop doll making for Jorth, and she was looking forward to getting some well deserved shut-eye. As she headed into slumber land, the usual house noises comforted her tired mind, like a lullaby composed of softly thudding water pipes and the distant ding ding of a homeward bound tram.But suddenly Jorth sat bolt upright, clutching the bedsheets to her in fear. Another noise had disturbed her - one that was a jarring note in all that was familiar. She sat silently - well, silently apart from the racket being made by her beating heart - and strained her ears to figure out what it may be. With a gasp she realised that it was voices, and in fright she shook Galumph, whispering urgently into his ear "Quick! Wake up - I think there's somebody in the house!"

To her dismay, but not to her surprise, Galumph merely grunted in his sleep, rolled over and began to snore with even greater vigour. "Drat it!" thought Jorth. "Why do I always have to be the brave one?"

She quietly slid out of the bed, and cast around the dim room for something to protect herself with. Being the bedroom of a crafter, it was rather devoid of serious weapons, so arming herself with a roll of calico and praying that she didn't have to use it, she crept out of the room and into the lounge.

What had appeared initially to be the murmur of voices was now made clear to be a song. Jorth stood quietly, scarcely daring to breath, listening to the strange voices softly and slowly singing a curious, hypnotic tune. She found herself almost being drawn into the spell, and it was with the utmost effort that she broke herself free of the magic, and turned on the light, brandishing her calico and shouting "Gotcha!"

"Oh hello, Jorth!" said a red-haired doll. "I do hope we didn't wake you. Just a bit of rehearsal, you see."

Jorth stood in bewilderment. "What the devil is going on here?" she asked, staring in amazement at the 10 dolls gathered on the couch in front of her.

"We're practising for the school fete!", answered the red-haired number chirpily. "Would you like to hear it? Ok, ladies, let's take it from the top!" And without further ado the dolls launched noisily into song:

Ging or brunette
We're a purchase you won't regret!
So buy us, buy us!
Raise funds for the school.
Buy us, buy us!
We're cuddly and cool!

Jorth stood in a state of stupefaction, although whether due to the magic of the song, or the atrociousness of the lyrics, it was hard to tell. Shaking her head to clear her befuddlement she gave a start before demanding in relieved fury "Gah! Do you have any idea what sort of fright you gave me?"

"I'll tell you what's frightful", said a brown-haired doll. "The state of my bottom, that's what. Do make sure you sew us up before taking us to the fete." Suddenly struck by inspiration she trilled

"We won't bring in nuthin'
If the punters can see our stuffin'!"

Jorth groaned at this addendum to the song before snapping "Go to sleep, and keep quiet, for the love of sewing. Seriously, the sooner this fete day comes, the better." And with that she stomped angrily off to bed.

Dolls1











Dolls2

Dolls made using the excellent tutorial from 70 piggies.

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Simple Stripes

Striped Sweater + Pattern

I was feeling a wee bit poorly yesterday (blasted sore throat!) so after cutting my husband's hair I was ordered onto the couch by him and told that under no circumstances was I to engage in anything more strenuous than knitting.

Fine by me! And a most successful afternoon of knitting it was too - I've begun a striped sweater for a new overseas nephew, and got all the front and half the back completed yesterday. Gave me a nice break from those darn dolls, too.

The pattern is called Striped Sweater, and it's from a Debbie Bliss book called The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits, which I managed to score at a discount book store in Collingwood for $15 - yeah! It's a brilliant book, seemingly filled with her best baby/toddler patterns. I still can't believe I paid so little for it. Find of the century! It always pays to stick your head into any bookshop you pass, I say - you never know what you may find!

Silly me, though, got so over excited about the book that I began showing it to all my pals that have just or are about to have babies. As a result, I have quite a few pages post-it-noted, with little remarks like green for boy and pink for girl, and blue please, but nothing too light.

So if anybody wants me anytime for the next, oh, few centuries, I'll be stuck on the couch, still knipping (as the Tyger calls it) away from this book. Wonder if I'll love it as much when I'm finished with all the requests?

UPDATE! Just checked out the Social Book Club site, and they still have copies of the book, just in case anybody wants to check it out.

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Getting stuffed

Dolls Arms Legs "Watcha doing, honey?" asked Galumph genially as he came in the door and discovered his wife sitting amongst a small ocean of arms, legs and polyfill.

"Not much", replied Jorth. "Just... stuffing around!" She then collapsed into peals of hysterical laughter.

"My word!", thought Galumph with a not a little concern. "This wife of mine needs to stop making these dolls and get out of the house, pronto - she's clearly going insane!"

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Production Line

Dolls

"I can't answer you!" said Jorth from the sewing machine when the phone began to ring.

"I Can't Answer You!" yelped Jorth when an email binged it's presence.

"I CAN'T ANSWER YOU!" screeched Jorth when her mobile began to buzz. "I've got dolls to make, people. Dolls! And a deadline. ARRRRRGGGHHHH BLOODY SCHOOL FETE!"


(Just ignore me - I'm just suffering my yearly bout of school fete over-commitment syndrome)

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Feeble

Couch

Jorth sat in front of the doctor, feeling rather miserable with a fever and an aching throat. The doctor looked at her sternly, and said "So, to recap, over the last few days you have done the following: shot a photo shoot for a small label in the rain, went to a friend's birthday party, rode all over the city doing errands, hit up the Roxette concert, went to a relative's 70th birthday celebration, wrote an article, baked a cake, made 18 pom poms and cut out 10 dolls for the school fete. Have I missed out on anything?"

"Whew!", said Jorth. "I feel tired just thinking about it!"

"Well, young lady, I'm prescribing lots of orange juice, some knitting on the couch and pulling out a pre-cooked dinner from the freezer. We need you in tip top shape so you can be creating crafty goodness again."

Jorth took the prescription, which had written upon it in block letters STAY ON THE COUCH AND REST UP, and agreed to take her medicine.

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Creamy Zucchini and Paneer curry

Creamy Zucchini and Paneer Curry

I must say, it was so lovely to watch the rain come down yesterday after the previous heat we'd had. I'm not any good at summer - anything higher than 28C leaves me scuttling for the safety of indoors before I start to wilt.

But food heat? Baby, I'm good at that! Not that this curry is particularly hot, but it's a rare dish I cook that doesn't have a charge of spice in it somewhere. Even my avocado on toast has to come with a healthy dose of cracked pepper on top!

Anyway, enough blithering about toast - here's the recipe for this easy curry. It's even better the next day, although not that I'd know for sure today, because when I went to grab some from the fridge for lunch I discovered that Galumph had taken it all to work with him. YOU'RE IN BIG TROUBLE MISTER! Nobody denies me my lunchtime curry and gets away with it!

Creamy Zucchini and Paneer Curry

2 tbs olive oil
1 large brown onion, roughly diced
3 tbs red curry paste
1 zucchini, roughly diced
800g can crushed tomatoes
400g can chickpeas
3 tbs cream
200g paneer cheese, cubed

1 - Heat 1 tbs of oil in a large pan. Saute the onion until golden, then add the curry paste. Cook until fragrant, then add the zucchini and stir until coated.

2 - Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and 1/2 cup water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the sauce nice and thick.

3 - Meanwhile, in a small frypan, heat the rest of the oil and cook the paneer in batches until all sides are golden. Add to the curry along with the cream, and serve.

Serve with steamed rice, good wholemeal bread or naan. Serves 4.

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A geranium cardigan for a rainy day

The rain ferociously lashed at the windows as Tyger and Jorth huddled together on the couch. They both yelped in a bizarrely synchronised fashion each time the thunder boomed or the lightening lit up the sky.

"Are you scared, Tyge?" asked Jorth as a particularly impressive roar of thunder made their little home shake.

"Nah!", said the indefatigable Tyger. "Besides, I've got my new cardi to keep me toasty warm. I'm glad we got the photos done before the storm hit, though!"

"So am I!" said Jorth emphatically as the hail began to belt down. "So am I!"

Geranium Cardigan

Project Details
Pattern: Cardigan No: 051-T10-507 from Phildar Magazine No. 51 Pitchoun Printemps/Été 2011 (you can see an image of the pattern here)
Yarn: 5 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in Geranium (50)
Needles: 2.5mm and 2.75mm

I quite enjoyed knitting this, but alas! It has turned out a bit bigger than I was hoping it would. This is partly because I made the size 8/10, as I thought the 6 would be tiny and the Tyger would get no wear out of it, but also because my yarn substitution wasn't quite spot on. The yarn called for in the pattern was Phil Coton 3, but I don't like working with cotton - it makes my wrists ache something shocking, and I hate how much a finished garment can stretch out afterwards. I didn't find another 3ply yarn that floated my boat, so I went with the Baby Cashmerino knowing full well that it wasn't an exact match. Oh well, lesson learnt.

The Tyger, however, is mucho pleased with it, and I must say it does go well with her new dress (which needs an iron badly - how embarassing!)

Besides, it's always nice to knock a project on the head. Onwards and upwards!

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See if you can spot it!

"Hiya honey!" chirped Jorth down the phone line. "Can you pick up a few things from the supermarket on your way home?"

"Of course", said the Galumph, scrambling for a pen. "What do we need?"

"Some milk, bread, Champagne, caviar, a dozen freshly shucked oysters..."

"Er, sweetie? I think Valentine's Day was yesterday" said a somewhat flummoxed Galumph.

"Oh, I know that, you silly duffer!", replied Jorth affectionately. "It's just that the most amazing thing has happened, and we simply must celebrate it!"

"Don't tell me!" said the Galumph excitedly. "They've perfected womb-transplant technology, and we'll finally be able to give the Tyger a much longed for sibling?"

"Not quite. I fear I am going to be wombless forever. Nah, guess again!"

"Some rich old relative we don't actually know has died and left their entire fortune to us?"

"Nope."

"Ottobre design team has been so impressed with your sewing that they are hiring you as a creative consultant and we'll all get to live in Finland for a year?"

"Oh, I wish! One final guess."

Galumph racked his brains, but the best he could come up with was "Somebody wants to publish your book?"

"Honey, I've got to finish writing it first. No, the reason for celebrating is that I have just done the most perfect invisible seaming ever! Aren't you excited? It's perfect - you can't see it at all"

"Is this a knitting thing?" asked the bewildered Galumph.

"Yup! It's official - I am a knitting master! Now, must dash. Don't forget the champas!" And with that Jorth rang off.

In his office the Galumph hung up his phone, bemused. "Well", he thought to himself, "she does say that everyday contains a celebration in it somewhere!"

Invisible Stitching

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Picking Up

Picking Up Stitches

Jorth and the orange cardigan faced each other in a knitting Mexican stand off.

"You can't make me do it!" said Jorth shrilly. "I've had enough, I really have!"

"C'mon", wheedled the cardigan. "Just one more button band to do, and you're done. I'll be out of your hair forever, you'll never need think of me again."

"Don't you talk to me of button bands", retorted Jorth. "I think I've sustained permanent nerve damage in the pads of my fingers from trying to pick up those 140-odd stitches yesterday with those tiny 2.5mm needles."

"It's hardly my fault you are so maladroit that you stab yourself in the finger with the needles all the time", said the cardigan crossly. "Look, just finish me up, and we'll quit each other for good."

"Finish?" asked Jorth incredulously. "I've still got the seaming to do, you rascally orange brute!"

"Be like that then", said the cardigan offhandedly. "Shove me in a bag in the cupboard if you like. But you know as well as I do I"ll always be there, tugging away at your conscience like a pesky knitted ghost. Just think of the wailing I'll do every time you even contemplate beginning a new project..."

Jorth was silent, digesting this scenario with no little trepidation. The cardigan seized her chance.

"What a pity it would be to deny the Tyger the pleasure of wearing me. That sweet kid loves nothing more than a hand knit made especially for her by her adoring mother. Oh well, if you see fit to keep me away..."

"Arrrrgggh!" said Jorth. "Emotional manipulation!"

"Whatever works, lady. I'll play dirty if I have to. Now square with me - do we have a deal or not?"

Jorth sighed. "Fine. It's a deal. I finish you up right now, and you'll never bug me about knitting you up again."

The cardigan grinned. "I shall never bug you about knitting me up again. Hand washing me, however, with the finest wool wash known to man, is another matter - bwahahahahahah!"

It says something about how great Jorth's desire was to be done with working on this knit that she refrained from squashing it into a bag and bundling into the cupboard then and there. Trying to quash the thought of how satisfying it would have been to have slammed, really slammed the cupboard door shut on it, she picked up her needles and began to work.

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No tears or rain around here!

The wee ditty currently running loops and loops around my head goes a little something like this:
Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red
Crying's not for me, no
NOT WHEN I'VE JUST MADE A BLIMMING AWESOME DRESS!

Teardrop Dress #1

Teardrop Dress #2

Teardrop Dress #3

Teardrops or raindrops, it doesn't really matter which one it reminds me of - the Tyger loves it, and I've completed another successful stash bust. Woohoo!

Project Details
Pattern: Rosy Posy dress, pattern #26 from Ottobre Design Magazine 3/2011
Fabric: 1.5m quilting cotton, Raindrops by Umbrella Prints, purchased from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 30cm invisible zipper, 60cm ric rac, 50cm 8mm elastic

Lovely easy pattern to make. I particularly like the ric rac edging on the neckline. I was a little concerned that it might prove to be itchy, but the Tyger declares that it's just fine. I pressed it quite severely with my iron on the hightest steam setting to make it sit up nice and straight - it hasn't drooped yet, so that's a good sign.

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What's for dinner? Curried Pea and Lettuce Soup

Curried Pea and Lettuce Soup

Jorth sat nervously in the food magazine editor's office. The editor looked at her expectantly and said "So, why do you want to be a food stylist?"

"Oh!" gasped Jorth. "It would be just wonderful to work with food all day alongside talented people, creating beautiful images. I'd love to do it!"

"Hmmmm", said the editor. "Right. Well, I'm just looking at some of your pics, and I must say, I'm wondering why the toast in this pic is covered in the soup. Could you explain that for me?"

"Errrrr", said Jorth, "I may have dropped it in the soup as I was trying to balance it on the bowl."

The editor groaned. "Butter, Ms Jorth, is welcome in this workplace. Butterfingers, however, are not. Now scoot!"

"Phangdang it!", thought Jorth as she trundled home. "At least the soup tasted good!"

Curried Pea and Lettuce Soup
1 iceberg lettuce, leaves washed well and roughly shredded
1 onion, diced
50 grams butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons hot curry powder
1 litre vegetable stock or water
500g frozen peas

1 - Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then saute the onion until tender and golden. Add the garlic and curry powder, and mix until combined. If you happen to have a cold, take this opportunity to stick you head right in the pan, and breath in deeply. We'll shake off that cold in no time - you, me and the peas!

2 - Add the lettuce, and stir so it is coated with the onion mixture. Wait until it wilts, then add the peas and stock.

3 - Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Let the soup cool, then blend until smooth. Reheat to serve, ideally with some yummy crusty bread smothered in avocado. Just don't drop it in the soup!

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Teardrops

Teardrops

The dressmaker's dummy was in excellent humour. She always was when there was a new addition to the wardrobe. She gazed at the dress with approval and asked "Well? What do you think of yourself?"

The dress was silent for a moment, seemingly unsure how to answer. Then she said "Well, I suppose I am pretty, and I do like my full skirt, and gathered sleeves, and my ric rac neckline is too, too sweet - but I'm not so sure about the teardrop pattern."

The dummy gave a start. As far as she was concerned the dress was not only lovely, but well made at that. To be quibbling over the fabric pattern - the nerve! Giving the dress a stern look, the dummy said "Explain yourself!"

The dress had begun to feel rather chastened. Nobody had warned her about this mannequin, who seemed to rule over all the clothes like some sort of sartorial royalty. Straightening her skirts she said "The thing is, I want to be a happy dress - the kind you wear out to a party, and everybody says how lovely you look. But I'm covered in thousands of teardrops - there's nothing happy about that, is there? It's going to be awfully hard to be considered the glad rags when people look at me and think sad rags."

If the dummy had eyes, she would have rolled them. As it was she heaved a sigh that came from the very bottom of her stand, and began to take the dress to task. "For starters, missy, you need to stop thinking only of yourself. Your job is not to consider what the wearer can do for you, but what you can do for the wearer! The reason for your existence is to boost her when she is low! To make her feel brilliant and vivacious when she puts you on. And perhaps, most importantly, to shield her from the onslaughts of a cruel world, for when she is wearing the armour of her favourite frock, nothing can go wrong. That, my dear dress, is your calling."

"But I'm covered in tears!" quivered the dress.

"Indeed you are!" retorted the dummy. "And may I ask, in this vale of emotions, what is wrong with tears? Did you not consider that they may be tears of joy? Those tears, my dear, are rare, and all the more powerful for it. Human eyes do not weep with gladness on the spinning of a dime. They only weep thus when the most powerful feelings of love, and blessedness and overwhelming exaltation spring forth from the very depths of the human heart. And those tears serve to nurture and water the human soul's spiritual evolution. You should be proud to be covered in such tears, you daft girl!"

"You're right!" exclaimed the dress. "I'd never thought of it like that. I shall be proud! I shall be proud to be the tear drop frock, resplendent and refulgent with my shining tears of orange and white!"

"Atta girl!" said the dummy. And with that all was well in the wardrobe once more.

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Is there such a thing as too much yarn?

Yarn

"C'mon troops!" yelled out Jorth desperately. "Rally round and help me close the cupboard door!"

Her husband and daughter dutifully dropped whatever they were doing and ran to help Jorth barricade the door. But it was no use - whatever was straining against the other side was desperate to come out, and with a magnificent whooooooosh the contents spilled out all over the room, covering the three as they were knocked to the ground by the force.

"Is this... knitting wool?" cried the Galumph in disbelief as he plucked a ball of Kelly green merino off his head.

"Careful!" cried out Jorth. "That's for the dress I'm going to make this winter. It's the perfect green - do you know how hard that is to find?!?"

"Well, what about this, Mum?" asked the Tyger as she pushed off the hot pink Debbie Bliss yarns that were covering her.

"That's for a lacy jumper I'm making for myself" answered Jorth.

The Tyger looked at her in disgust. "Is any of this wool" she asked, gesturing to the yarn that had flown all over the room, "any of it, even one measly ball, intended for me?"

Jorth looked guiltily around the room. "Er, no." she admitted. "That's hidden away in the other cupboard."

"Right!" said the Galumph exasperatedly. "You, young lady, had better get knitting before I ring my attorney and find out if hording too much yarn is adequate grounds for divorce!"

Jorth, feeling rather abashed at how much yarn she actually had (you never realise until it all flies out at you like that!) put it all away, and resolved to herself that an immediate stash busting must commence.

Once she had left the room the hot pink Debbie Bliss yarn looked around at the other balls smugly and said "That, my dears, is the only way to get yourself knitted up. Works a treat every time!"

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Dork with a mission

Cobweb

I am standing here in a state of equal parts almost-sneeziness and revulsion. How on earth did my blog become so dusty and cobwebby? I'm going to need buckets and detergents and brooms and maybe even some Windex, stat! Now that school is back, this blog is going to have to come back up to speed and quickly, before I am found guilty of total and utter blog neglect. They can put you jail for that these days, you know. Or at the very least drop you as a friend on Facebook. Oh, the horror!

In my defence, however, I will state that I haven't being doing absolutely nothing over the school hols. There have been picnics, and long bike rides, and swims, and loads of games of Connect 4, and playdates with friends. And most importantly lots of hanging with my girl. I think after a long year we both needed the recharge. I didn't craft much, as I'd rather play a game with the Tyger and get the giggles together, but the crafting is going to commence once I hit Publish on this post.

Boy oh boy, do I have some big crafting plans for this year! Also, fingers crossed, the book is going to get written too. I've even gone so far as to write up a weekly schedule for myself. And got it laminated! Yes, I am a big dork, but this is a dork with a mission - I want to get my novel written this year, so time management is of utmost importance, and if it takes a laminated schedule to make that happen, then so be it!

So if anybody knows of any agents out there who don't mind their authors being a bit on the, er, daggy side, send them over my way!

Right, I'm off now to attack that cobweb. Yes, it's an actual cobweb on my house. One of many, if I'm going to be brutally honest. The shame, the blasted cobwebby shame!

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