Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Daisy, daisy . . . a summer daisy blanket!

Over the past few weeks I have been working on using up some of my stash of acrylic yarn.

Having some golden yellow left from a bag I made some time ago, I fixed upon making a blanket with little yellow centred daisies.  There are any number of various daisy motifs on Ravelry, but in the end I decided to use the easy granny square variation set out here at Attic24, being simple yet effective.  Lucy calls it a Summer Garden Granny Square, but as mine are all daisy-like I am going to call my blanket a Summer Daisy Blanket.

Stages one, two and three of the daisy squares . . .

And here they are, completed - 17 piles of 9 squares.  I have calculated that this number will make a single bed sized blanket.

Weaving in the ends took ages!

 I joined the squares using the 'join as you go' method in dark navy.  I found this youtube video helpful (there are two parts).

Once joined, I thought about a border.  Did I want something simple, or more interesting?  As I was intending the blanket to be a single bed cover, in the end I decided to improvise so I could make suerethe length and width were right for the purpose.  I also decided to add another colour - a deep red - to lift the colour scheme.

Here is the border close up:

As you can see, I did quite a few rows are granny stripe, interspersed with a mixture of other stitches. Working outwards, the first red stripe (below) is treble, the second is v stitch (trebles with 2 chains between).  The yellow row on top of the v stitch is made of htr clusters.  The green above that is 2 dc and chains, then a row of treble clusters.  The final row is ch and dc in the main colour.

Here's the full effect of the border:

Happy days!


Friday, 28 November 2014

Counting my blessings

I have not posted for a while, because I have been very very busy becoming the legal owner of my home!

Not only was it a long, complicated legal process, but for me this was a massive life step.  Australia used to be a place where it was generally accepted that everyone should be able to own their own home.  This was called the Great Australian Dream.  In some ways it was linked to the famous Harvester Judgement, which established a sense of true egalitarianism - home ownership being considered the key to security and financial wellbeing.  However, neocon 'market' economy policies over the last 20 or so years have vandalised this framework, putting home ownership out of reach for many. I considered myself I was one of those disenfranchised by 'the new system', and for some years I felt very sad and, I guess, almost aggrieved, about this symptom of how our country had changed for the worse.

Like many, I have experienced the ups and downs of life.  I was not able to work for some years.  So having an opportunity to buy the home I have been renting for years, now, through a government scheme, has been one of the scariest, yet wondrous, steps I have ever taken.

So, here I am, a home owner for the first time ever!

The truth is, my mind keeps leaping from an irrepressible, overwhelming joy (at finally owning the home I have invested in emotionally for so long), to being terrified about the size of my mortgage and expenses I have not had to deal with before!

Still, there are definitely more pluses, not the least of which is that I can continue to live here as long as I wish, and can continue to improve my house and garden safe in the knowledge that I (not the government!) will actually benefit in the long run.

So, I am celebrating becoming a home owner by counting my blessings.

And when I looked out today, I was struck by the amazing variation in foliage in the garden I have developed and tended over the years - so here's a few, just because!


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Sweet, sweet satisfaction - my chequerboard blanket is finished!

It's been a long time coming but I have finally completed my chequerboard cotton blanket!  . . . .voila!

Here it is, in all its unblocked glory, on my dining room table.

There were a few downsides to this project - it was more fiddly than I had imagined and I did get a bit bored with making the strips.  I also ran out of parchment (cream) mid way through, as described here.

Then, towards the end, there were a lot of ends to weave in, (ever so carefully, so as not to be visible or lumpy).

However the end was in sight when I began joining up the checked strips.  While the pattern that I was basing my blanket on indicated that I should join with a needle, I always prefer to crochet where possible.  In this case, I opted to join the strips using dc-ch in a contrasting, deeper green.

Here's a close up of the right side . . .

and the wrong side.

I found this joining method easy without too much bulk.  I also like the nice country look of the join.

And now I have edged the whole blanket, using the same contrasting green - first with a row of double crochet and then a row of treble clusters in every third stitch (with five trebles in each corner stitch).

I used a smaller hook for the edging, so as not to stretch the fabric along the edge.

All in all, there were quite a few sagas with this project along the way, but I can tell you, those sagas just made reaching the end sweeter!


Saturday, 5 July 2014

The home stretch

Winter is perfect weather to stay indoors crocheting!  Over the last week we've had fog, wind and rain - and today, despite the sun, is only going to be 11 degrees Celsius.   Here is the view from my front step this morning.

My main task over the the last couple of weekends, crochet-wise, has been to finish weaving in the ends of my cotton chequerboard blanket.  Now, I am not a fan of weaving in the ends and do my best to avoid it by crocheting over them where possible.  Unfortunately this project did not lend itself to that (as the alternate colour showed through rather badly when I attempted it), and so I have had a bit a work to do before I could progress to putting the lengths together to make up the blanket.

I also have to admit I have been procrastinating.  (And while procrastinating, I even made this lovely hat and scarf!)

Finally, I came up with a strategy to get those ends completed.  Now, perhaps 'strategy' is too strong a word, as it really just involved relaxing in the lounge room, near the fire, while binge-viewing a few seasons of Breaking Bad!

Luckily, Breaking Bad is very addictive, so I have been 'obliged' to do this for hours, with the result that I have now completed the ends and am onto the joining stage (and season 4 episode 7)!  Hooray!

Ah, the joys of joining!  (I was starting to go a bit mad doing the ends, I must confess.)  I am working my way along the lengths of the blanket with a contrasting green cotton, using a dc-ch combo and a slightly smaller hook on the 'wrong side'.  

Here is the right side:

I am liking the look of it so far.  And I am starting to feel that the home stretch is not too far away.  I know I still have to think about the border and edging, but that's another story.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying my crochet hibernation!  I hope you are keeping warm this winter.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Plants are for the birds

I can't help but extoll how wonderful Canberra is in winter.  Yes, it is very cold and frosty, but we also tend to get good rain and lovely, sunny days.

But winter in our region is hard on birdlife.  Unlike other parts of the world it is generally frowned upon in Australia to feed birds (it tends to encourage larger birds, who out-compete the little birds).  However including plants in suburban gardens that birds can feed on in winter is strongly encouraged.

I have endeavoured to do this.  An added bonus is that I now have plants that look great during an otherwise drab time in the garden.

Here are a few snaps of plants that were in flower this past weekend:

Banksia - complete with resident wattle bird . . .

Close up of a banksia flower . . .

Correa - 'Dusky Bells' (a more prostrate form of correa with dark green leaves) . . .

Correa - 'Marian's Marvel' (upright bush with grey speckly leaves) . . .

Crowea - fine leaf form. seen here in one of my favourite garden corners, with jonquil buds and flat leaf parsley . . .

A rosella surveying the scene from my ornamental plum . . .

 Coleonema (widely known as 'diosma,' though that is actually a different, similar-looking shrub) . . .

 A variety of hebes (well, they are actually from New Zealand, but still!) . . .

. . . and this slightly blurry grevillea (I can't recall the variety).

Although slightly off-topic, while I was out taking pictures I could not resist snapping the interesting bark of this fruiting plum tree ('Luisa'), the buds and early flowers on the osmanthus, and my sprouting garlic!

I am really, really loving my garden - it's taken years to get it to this point, but it has been worth every back-breaking minute!


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Revelling in camellias

According to the calendar, winter has arrived, though it's been relatively mild so far - and my camellias seem to be delighting in an extended flowering season.  This has gladdened my heart, particularly as they really suffered during the rolling heat waves of summer.  

My courtyard camellias are Beatrice Emily sasanqua camellias.  The flower petals are pink-edged and heart-shaped, which looks very pretty when the petals fall.

These camellias have a slight fragrance.  Their nectar also attracts native honey eaters, like this wattle bird.  

I love the way they look close up . . . 

 . . . and en masse!

This year practically all my autumn leaves went on top of this row of camellias.  Now we have had some decent rains the leaves are forming leaf mould, which camellias love.  They are clearly revelling in ideal conditions, and I am revelling in them in their revelling!

I simply love this time of year in Canberra - and my camellias symbolise this to a tee.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Gorgeous gardens - part 2

During my trip to Melbourne I was fortunate to be able to visit two Diggers gardens - Cloudehill in the Dandenongs, and Heronswood at Dromana.  As a Diggers member, entry to both gardens was free!  


Cloudehill is literally 'around the corner' from the National Rhododendron Gardens (the subject of my last post).  I was not sure what to expect from Cloudehill, but suffice to say I was completely bowled over.  What a gorgeous place - there was something quirky and interesting around every corner!

Works of art, garden structures, and beautiful stonework enhanced the garden's design.

Interesting plant combinations added depth and texture to the rampant autumn colour.

 And I was particularly taken with this wiggly box hedge!

I was unaware until I reached this sign that Cloudehill also flows into another garden, Rangeview, which is a beautiful, ferny, wild garden with mysterious paths.

The slanted light was amazing during the afternoon that I spent wandering these gardens.


The following day's trip to the Mornington Peninsula included a visit to Heronswood at Dromana.

The house itself is a beauty - all that lovely stonework!

I was particularly taken by the fact that Justice Higgins, renowned for his Harvester Judgment, had resided there.

The garden surrounds include a demonstration parterre garden.

The garden design created picturesque views at every turn, and incorporated both formal elements and natural form.

As it was unseasonably warm that day, I enjoyed a refreshing devonshire tea at the tea rooms inside Heronswood.  The house also accommodates a garden nursery and a Diggers shop.

My visit to Heronswood crowned a day trip that also included a trip to the Cape Schank lighthouse - I just cannot resist including a picture of the lighthouse, so here it is!