Wednesday, December 21, 2011

beautiful japan

whilst in japan, many locals from both kobe and kyoto highly recommended a visit to the kinka-kuji temple (also known as the golden pavillion).

this is the stunning view when you walk into the impeccably maintained gardens, accompanied by a steady sound of clicking cameras and ooohs and aaahs in the background.
seriously! picture perfect, huh?

this was taken in october - you can see that the canopy of some trees are beginning to change into an autumnal display. can you imagine how stunning this view would have been a few weeks later with the warm oranges/reds/yellows of autumn? better timing next trip!

and a friend for one of the newest aussies-via-france in melbs. mr m's maman is an excellent home pastry chef and makes the most delicious macarons i've ever tasted. this japanese fabric dotted with little sweets and cakes seemed perfect =)
bienvenue petit m!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

top of the morn and slip of the day

of course, now that it's december, things are beginning to balance out. better late than never =)
it's been a tough and challenging year, but also one of the most rewarding and exciting in a long time. here's to good things for all in 2012.

i've had the pleasure of piecing together a few more softies for various folks and their new littlies - this little guy is heading to a white christmas in europe. safe journey cosmonaut!

and i guess this may seem like another boring photo of crafty goodies, but seriously, check out the colours of the felt in the back!! such vibrant and bold colour can only come from one wonderful place.
a few months ago, i had the good fortune to travel to kobe in japan for work. my long-held dream come true: i squeezed in a few days in craft mecca kyoto, truly a beautiful city. i stayed in the east, nestled amongst the many temples and their immaculate graceful gardens. my suitcase was proudly loaded up on wool, lovely fabrics of all types (from many places including here) and other awesome crafty supplies.

more softies in line for their publicity shot soon =)

Monday, September 12, 2011

knit purl knit purl

three weeks ago, despite being the last gasp of winter, s and i took a beginners knitting class with the lovely pauline at popcraft. since then, we have become completely fanatical and have even taken to knitting in bed (circular needles are the go for this!). poor elmo comes home late to a sheepish knitter on the couch - needles and yarn in hand, knitting away (or tinking, as elmo likes to call it).

the spoils thus far:
moss stitch using a gorgeous felty wool from japan. a bit short at ~1.3m, but very toasty.
a rib knit scarf at 1.5m for elmo with some lovelies from morris and sons (how have i never known you before mr morris?)
the third is in progress, and since we're heading towards spring/summer, this scarf is knitted with a 100% cotton yarn using smooth sand and nubby sand (on the reverse) stitches.
on top of learning something new, my favourite bit about all this? i showed my grandma my projects and she immediately took the needles in hand and proceeded to knit and purl like a demon. all this time i never knew. she even gave me some of her old needles that she had brought with her on the boat when she braved the trip between hong kong and australia. a wonderful wonderful present.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

advice from a craft genius

do you ever feel that you don't have enough hours in the day? that you don't own your own time? i read this post by aunty cookie who made the pertinent point that you actually choose how to spend your time.

regrettably, i'm one of those annoying people she talks about, who wonders why they don't have time to do things. work vs family? vs friends? vs crafting? vs reading-a-book-for-goodness-sake**! vs life admin? (aunty cookie would definitely disapprove in this department - mmm, change subject!)

case in point: elmo's got heaps of work too, but recently, he baked lemon madeleines for the first time (just imagine that our cupcake tins are shaped as madeleines =) ). these are a much more enjoyable end point than, say, the lame-oh choice of working longer hours.
totally delicious elmo, thank you!

how shameful i feel. so no more complaining, my fault for choosing how to fill the day. but it's time to get tough with those hours!

in an effort to redress this, i made a quilt to welcome a lovely new bub, mr s, to the world via sunny brisvegas. after piling on every cute new fabric in the stash, i exercised some restraint and kept it simple.
Besides, I had to include this awesome animal origami fabric from Ikea.

And hooray, I have mastered the mitered corner (yeah yeah i'm slow)! I used a ruby red bias tape from Bird Textile (found at Wilkins and Kent) to bind the quilt, and all other fabrics are from Ikea or the lovely folks at Patchwork by the Sea in Adelaide.

congrats dr e and p! and welcome mr s, we're looking forward to meeting you.

ps: and yes, i WILL make time for more projects.
** i have read (a MEASLY) one book this year: Zadie Smith's, Changing My Mind. Does it count if it's a collection of essays as opposed to a complete narrative? Sigh.

Listening: 60 Second Idea To Improve the World podcast, BBC world service.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

vivid 2011

i guess this might be sacrilegious being a melburnian and all, but sydney - what a beautiful city!

we went to the opening weekend of sydney's vivid festival to catch Jason Pierce/Spaceman 3/ Spiritualized perform their wonderful Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space album in full - strings, choir, band - the whole deal. awesome!
light shows, i thought? meh! this photo does no justice to the absolutely stunning creations by Superbien beamed onto the Opera House sails. and there were fantastic interactive installations all over circular quay. even the most hardened cynics (er, perhaps myself, elmo less so) were super impressed!

and of course, what holiday is complete without adding to the stash, first: this beautiful bunch of lovelies from Leura in the Blue Mountains.**
and secondly, more japanese books from kinokuniya.
** this blog was intended as a means of creative discipline, so i hope to post completed projects soon and not just that which fuels my fabric/book obsession! (but seriously, aren't they cute?)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Op shopping

i'm a terrible sucker for op or junk shops (or maybe it's the good get that i love so much).
i inherit this from mum and dad: they too value the old or abandoned and have a collection of previously unloved things.

we spied this cute norwegian figgjo sugar bowl in the dandenongs. sadly, not too long after we brought it home, i dropped the lid. oops!

imagine our excitement when we saw this figgjo lotte coffee pot, milk jug and sugar bowl at a market on the bellarine peninsula...
aren't they the cutest? love the drawing style and the colours, very distinctive in amongst the english ceramics that you often see at opshops. once i stop admiring them, we may even serve coffee out of the pot once day far far in the future (especially since butterfingers here is likely to be a klutz with them!)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Browsing> Fimo necklaces

Stumbled across these lovely fimo necklaces by local designer Emily Green.Just my kinda thing, great colour combos and so tactile!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

rave on

yay, first gig of 2011***!

m.ward's hold time was on high rotation at ours last year. it's much more upbeat and summery than the songs i've heard previously from mysterious mr m. (who falls neatly into Dan Kelly's Rockwiz Master Blaster subject, Men Who Sing High), and heartwarming string arrangements get me everytime. if you do yearn for m.ward in his doleful, wistful mode, there's a beautiful duet with lucinda williams on this album.

big thanks to dr c's gig alert: we scored tix to m.ward's first tour to aus in five years, can't wait!

*** unless Dan Kelly at the Aus Open Tennis counts??

Sunday, February 13, 2011

thai dye

when travelling:
the first thought is for the stomach - what to eat? where to go? what to try?
second thought - maybe some countryside scenery or some cultural insights?
third thought - what stationery can i get my mitts on! (donut shaped tape dispenser anyone?)

this last trip, a new one: unrestrained fabric frenzy craziness.

check. it., this fabric buying thing is not new. i randomly buy fabric at home all the time, but overseas? that's space that could be filled with FOOD (we lugged home SO many jams and preserves from Paris last time, so YUM) or cute notebooks!

in thailand, something un/clicked in my brain and i gleefully bought ~25 yards of fabric.
at least.
isn't that crazy.
half my suitcase thanks.

here is a small bit of the stash:
can't wait to get stuck into them!

these lovelies are from Khomapastr Fabrics in Hua Hin, a coastal resort town in Thailand (there are also branches in Bangkok). Just behind the shop, the Khomapastr textile factory in Hua Hin has been screenprinting all these gorgeous fabrics by hand since 1948.

(...wish i had chosen a few more... =) )

ps: elmo's travel obsessions: drawing pens and, er, pork floss! do you have any travel obsessions?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

hello animals!

This weekend past, we welcomed niece #2 into the world. Congrats C and S!

For her first gift, a felt animal mobile inspired by the Aranzi Aronzo book "Cute Stuff", a gift from C and S from one of their overseas soirees.

Why have I been slaving over quilts with all their batting and binding and matching fat quarters?
These felt animals were HEAPS more fun to make!
No need for patterns: I cut out these shapes freeform from my felt stash, embroidered their faces, stuffed a little bit of polyfill in their bodies and used blanket stitch to put them all together.

The animals have 2 inch lace loop at the top where the ribbon goes through. The other end of the ribbon hangs from a embroidery hoop - my makeshift mobile frame.
Yes, the animals look innocent enough, but they were slightly uncooperative models for photos. Maybe they were nervous about being stuck over the balcony? =p

Next time: need to figure out a better method to hang the mobile, but am feeling well chuffed with the final result!

Welcome little baby p! We look forward to getting you know you =)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sawadee Kha

In retrospect, I was pretty green on my first trip to Thailand some ten years ago. Back then, it just seemed too big and overwhelming and stifling hot.

With the advantage of travelling with Elmo who speaks and reads Thai, this second visit was a much richer experience. Bangkok is major sensory overload: hot in the heat, cold in the air con, noisy but polite, crowded and dynamic, relaxed chaos.
We spent most of our time in the city with Elmo's family, but also visited the seaside and ventured inland. In the north, we visited the stunning ancient ruins of the old capital Sukhothai. These bell shaped structures are called chedi and they represent the path to heaven. They are built in the form of a lotus flower.
The scale of some of the statues of Buddha was just breathtaking.

We also drove out to Thung Luang to see the local ceramicists and pottery centres, and briefly visited Phitsanulok, a big country town to the east of Sukhtothai. The Thai countryside is so different to the big smoke - so relaxing!
Back in busy Bangkok: if you ever get the chance, head out to the Pak Klong Talat (night flower market). We cabbed it there at about midnight and were rewarded with the most vibrant and voluminous display of flowers including orchids, roses and lotus flowers. Absolutely stunning.

The orchids below are on sale for 10 baht a bunch (about 30 Aussie cents). And have you ever seen lotus flowers presented like this?! They are so architectural and beautiful. Happily, we also frequented the local markets and street food stalls. I must end this post with a picture of one of my favourite discoveries: kanom krok.

Kanom are a snack or sweet that is normally purchased on the street, and there are many different types of kanom.
Kanom krok is a type that is cooked on a hot iron plate. It is a coconut sweet that has a crunchy bottom and a soft, coconut-y filling on top. Sometimes kanom krok has corn or spring onion added to the soft filling. I'm a bit embarrassed to confess that we were too busy scoffing the kanom krok to take decent photos!

Hmmmm, Thai food. After only a week home, we are now both nursing serious cravings for Thai street food!