Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some of my favourite words

Firstly, a big thank you to Polly Pratt and I Purr-Furr to Craft, both of whom have offered their time and expertise to contribute to the Great Apron Gathering. Gals, you rock!

And now to the matter at hand, completely unrelated to aprons of any kind: some of my favourite words.

Words are my life, you see. They're certainly my living - I basically get paid to move words around on the page. Or to say them to other people, who write them down. When it comes to words, what I say goes. (say? geddit? ahahahahaha!!!)

I'm a firm believer in the motif that the pen is mightier than the sword. Words have incredible power, and like magic they can be used for good or evil. They have the capacity to provoke emotions that weren't there a second ago. They can impart strength and structure. And some words are truly beautiful, both in the way they're spelt or in the things that they mean.

So in the spirit of sharing tiny moments of beauty, here are a few of the words that make my life more beautiful:

  • plinth: what a lovely, satisfying word to say out loud
  • pamplemousse: it's French for grapefruit
  • pod
  • liriope
  • oleaginous: another lovely word to say. It's oily in the mouth, just like its meaning.
  • tuckshop
  • lily
  • empirical
  • oubliette: I do love French words. This one reminds me of Labyrinth, another word I love and the film with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly is pretty good too.
  • cerulean: calm, blue, peaceful. Ahhhhhh.
  • peony
  • turkish
  • ablaze
  • espalier

I could go on, but these are just a few. Even reading them now in list format, makes me happy. It makes me happy just to look at them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The great apron gathering gets underway

Yay! Thank you to the lovely people who are keen to be part of the great apron gathering!

There's a few of you so far - Margaret at Konstant Kaos, the inimitable Curlypops of course, Gina at Clutterpunk, no-reply-comment Jennie (is that you, Cravings Frocks?), and Michelle at the Toy Society ... this should certainly help get the apron gathering underway.

It's not too late to join in - this new project of mine has no real delivery date, it'll be delivered when it's finished. All you need to do is collect a vintage tea towel for me and I'll make it into an apron for the Sacred Heart Mission dining hall; or of course you can take matters into your own hands and make an apron from scratch.

Every donation, large or small, is very very welcome. Sometimes it's the littlest things that make the biggest difference.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Calling for vintage tea towels and aprons

Recently I misplaced my sewing mojo and have felt pretty uninspired. Another Hoot? A skirt? A new pencil roll? Gah. Same old, same old. I've needed some new motivation to get going again.

And now I've got it. I've decided I'm going to make some aprons to donate to the dining hall I volunteered at for the Sacred Heart Mission. All the helpers wear aprons to protect their clothes, and some of the ones they had were pretty threadbare... and one of the leaders made an offhand comment about how they need more of them. Now that's something I can do!

Inside the hall it's very cheery, there are lots of hanging lamp pendants, with all the shades made out of vintage tea towels. It brightens up the bare space incredibly, and gives the whole place a fantastic retro feel. When you walk in, it just makes you feel .... cheerful.

And immediately I thought of the fantastic aprons that the lovely Ms Curlypops makes ... what a great idea Curlypops, thank you! I don't have an apron pattern but I'm sure I can find one somewhere.

This afternoon I went for a wander along High St on the lookout for old tea towels - they're actually harder to find than you might think. But I scored this fantastic Flo's Pumpkin Scones one for the grand price of $2, which I was pretty pleased about. It's Flo Bjelke Petersen! That's a real blast from the past.

If anyone would like to donate to the cause and send me a vintage tea towel - or even a modern one - I will very happily make it into an apron for you and put it in the package for Sacred Heart. Or if you'd like to whip up a whole apron of your own - either made with a tea towel or without it - that would be great too!

Those guys deserve all the support they can get, and it makes me feel good to donate my skills as well as my time.

If you want to be a part of this small effort, please leave a comment and let me know you're on board so I can get in touch with you. I get so much out of being part of our lovely crafty community - let's band together and use our talents to make a difference, even if it's just a really, really small one.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A generosity of spirit

It wasn't the strong, sour smell of urine coming from the guy in the corner that bothered me. He was crusty, and cowed, and wouldn't look anyone in the eye, but he didn't bother me.

Neither did the old man who was dirty, and cheerful, but so addled I could hardly understand what he was saying. Or even the young woman who brought her three-year-old daughter in a pram, who made me suck in my breath when she looked at me with blank eyes.

No. It was the elderly woman, sitting by herself who really got to me.

I noticed her as the last of the breakfast meals were being served, and I thought to myself how carefully dressed she was. She looked as though she had taken care over her outfit, and I particularly liked the small, round fur hat she wore.

She just sat, by herself, and spooned the cereal into her mouth. Then when I looked back ten minutes later, she was gone.

Later, after we'd finished picking the grapes off the stalks - chucking out any that were too mouldy - and topping and tailing the butter beans, the room started to get really busy once the lunches began being doled out.

Before I knew it there were a hundred people eating their three-course meal, which today consisted of a sausage casserole, assorted vegies, carrot and spinach soup, mashed potato, sauerkraut, and for dessert, a banana cake with caramel sauce. The cake was the hottest ticket and most people scraped their spoons round their bowls to get every last drip of the super-sweet sugary sauce.

It was my job to clear away the trays and plates, keep the tables clean and wiped, water jugs full; and I was run off my feet doing it - I don't think I stopped for over a couple of hours at least. And the people just kept coming. There was the odd druggie, a few working girls, a handful of blokes who were clearly mentally unstable.

But for the most part, out of the 300 or so people we fed lunch to, they seemed like really ordinary people. Normal people like you and me, except they happened to be homeless, or out of work, or living with various addictions. Or lonely and poor, like the old lady in the fur hat, who I noticed came back for lunch and sat there quietly again, on her own.

One good thing about the Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda is that the lunches aren't means tested. If you're brave enough to show up and stand in line for a free meal, then you're entitled to it - no questions asked.

And the thing that surprised me was how nice everyone was. Here I was, clearing away dirty plates and glasses, feeling quite out of my element (like I was in their way almost, which is odd because I was there doing what I was meant to be doing) and most people were really kind. Lots of the clients called me by my first name (all the volunteers wear nametags), and said thank you when I took their empties away, and quite a few engaged me in conversation about all manner of things.

I don't know why I was surprised by that, but it quite touched me. I think more people there at the Mission said kind things to me today than I would ordinarily hear in a week at my real work. I certainly heard the word thank you more than I'd hear it in a MONTH at the office, and that was a real shock.

So it wasn't the homelessness aspect that bothered me, I think, in the end. It was the generosity of spirit from people who had nothing else to give, but gave it freely. And the contrast with the world I live in, which is so far from that one materially, and an aeon away in humility.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dream theory, part II

I feel I should expand on my post from yesterday. So I apologise in advance to all my lovely readers who come here for the craft and have had to put up with my esoteric musings and metaphysical wonderings!

But Gina raised some interesting points in the comment she left on yesterday's post, so I thought about them overnight.

I'd like to clarify a point I made, to wit: that in dreaming we are our true selves.

I don't by any stretch mean that our dreamworlds are our ultimate realities, and I don't feel that everything we do in our waking lives is wasted. I love all the things I do in my waking hours! Well - *most* of the things, anyway.

What I do think is that it's worth looking at the importance of sleep and dreaming, in reverse. The theory goes we need sleep to recharge, so that we can get through our days.

I say though, what if sleep is actually the primary objective, and the getting through of days - eating, working, crafting - is what provides us with the fuel for our sleep? Let's look at sleep and dreaming as the primary objective rather than the supporting mechanism.

There isn't any evidential proof for this theory - it's just something I've wondered about over time. Perhaps it's because I feel that in my dreams, I can achieve anything. I can access the power inside me, to fly, breathe underwater, change my reality, do amazing things. In my dreams I'm not held back by the artefacts and assumptions that weigh me down in regular life. In my dreams I'm free of all constraints, and I get to explore parts of myself that I could never access through my conscious mind.

Carlos Castaneda, that famous mysticist, said that dreams are a gateway to a magical realm of separate realities, otherwordly beings, sorcery, and magic. My experiences certainly lead me to believe this is true.

Dreams are a method of learning. They're a pathway to discovery and enlightenment - and in them, we can throw off the mantles of drudgery that weigh us down in the waking world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

I felt the headache even before I was half-conscious this morning. It sat there heavily on my forehead, pressing darkly across the bridge of my nose. Two round, dull pain points marked the spot across the bones of my brows.

I'd been aware of the pressure while I was sleeping, and it made its way into my dreams. I'd dreamt I had a headache, and lo and behold, when I finally struggled into consciousness, there it was.

Did I create my own headache, dream it into existence? Or was it already there, and just picked up by my subconscious and worked into my dreamworld?

I've always had a very vivid dream-life. Sitting here today, I can still remember the recurring childhood dream I had about a pirate ship tossing about on heavy seas. And through my adolescence and twenties, even early-thirties, I had a recurring dream about my teeth falling out; and even now I can run the tip of my tongue over their sharp broken edges while the coppery blood fills my mouth.

I remember specific moments in dreams, like they actually happened. And particular words, or the way I felt. Sometimes I'll confuse a dream with real life, or start telling a friend a story, and realise actually I am opening a door to my subconscious and that this never really took place in the waking world. Or I'll see an object - house, dog, car, flower, painting - and it will give me a start, because I'll recognise it and realise I've seen it before in a dream. A situation will come up and I get the shiver of deja vue as it plays out just as it did in my sleep. I've had dreams that have come true.

And on occasion, I'll be doing something ordinary, like the ironing, or taking part in a discussion at work, and all of a sudden I'll become aware of a dream going on in the background, just beyond the horizon of my mind. Often it's a continuation of what I might have dreamt in the nights previously, and it just bobs up, like a koi breaking the surface of the lily pond, and crosses over into my conscious mind. That's a weird sensation, I can tell you.

I once had a dream about my then boyfriend, and we were just doing some stuff together, and when I woke up I otld him about it and he said Yep, I just had that dream too. And we confirmed it by checking little details with each other. That really opened the doors of my perception, to misquote Aldous Huxley. (An aside for all the other Jane Austen fans out there: did you know Aldous Huxley once wrote a screenplay adaption of Pride and Prejudice?)

I often fly in my dreams, and those are the moments I feel most powerful and capable - there was one about 9 years ago where I feel I finally articulated some kind of internal potential. I also breathe underwater quite regularly. Though for every power-filled vignette, there are an equal number of mundanities, like grocery shopping, or going for a walk, or having a meeting at work. But they're all rendered in crystal-clear detail ... like a high-resolution, super-movie-Imax-version of real life. Like acid.

I kept a dream diary for a number of years, because it felt as though everything that happened in my dreams was so vibrant, so real, so laden with symbolism, that it had to mean something for my actual, waking life. I love reading over it every now and again, because reading those dreams is like living them again.

And the point of all this musing about dreams? It comes down to this. If you ask me, I don't think we're here on this earth to do all the stuff we do while we're awake. Our jobs, relationships, homes - yes, even crafting - those are just superficialities wrapped around the real reason we're here.

People say we sleep to recharge, to process memories and emotions, and heal ourselves. It's when all kind of mysterious processes take place, not just in our bodies but in our minds, too. It's why sleep deprivation is a form of torture ... and I'm sure every new mum would agree with that view.

I say it's more than that. I think the best parts of our lives take place while we're asleep. Without sleep, what we feel is the pain of our souls screaming in anguish and dislocation, needing the balm that rest provides us, by guiding us back to the hearts of ourselves. All that other stuff is what we do to keep ourselves busy (and ok, alive and nourished and safe) in between the dream times. It's what fills up the hours before we can get back to bed.

Dreaming is where we live out our real and best lives. Where we reach the depths of our minds, and the heights of possibility that exist to us.

Dreaming, we are our true selves.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lazy Sunday Afternoon ....

.... as the song goes (who sang it, by the way?) .....

Okay, technically it's not yet the afternoon. And I suppose I actually haven't been that lazy today when you think about it.

In fact, I've been quite busy. I made a curtain to cover a bookcase full of fabric (1.8 metres high, stuffed to the gills, and that's just half of my upholstery supplies) so that the materials wouldn't fade in the light. I used Vintage Cherries here on the left, from the Sandi Henderson Farmers' Market range, and it matches my lovely yellow wall really well. Isn't yellow a lovely colour? Whenever I make something yellow and put it on the stall, it sells really well. I think people are naturally attracted to happy yellow colours.

And I read the papers in bed, very early, accompanied by the Grimth who was having a lovely time playing with a piece of string. And I had breakfast. And I cut out and sewed lots of individual Hoot parts, ready to put together this afternoon.

And I ran up and down the hallway with the Fat One, whose diet FINALLY appears to be working. We have to find ways of exercising him, so I grab his piece of plastic packing tape that he loves (don't ask me why, it makes no sense at all) as it's the only thing that'll get him going. We run up and down the hallway five times, and that's about 100m. Which is probably more exercise than Fatpuss gets in a full day otherwise! It's all about the metabolism. And you know, if it gets me moving too then that's a good thing. I put on a pair of pants the other day - well, tried to put them on, except they didn't really do up .... and so if Fathead can master the diet, so can I. It's a neverending struggle (for both of us).

And Podae just watched us from his snuggly blanket on the sofa, a bemused look on his face. Podae is the supermodel of the cat world. He's long, and lean, and elegant. He's been exactly 5.25kgs for the past three years. He takes two little bites of food and goes Oh, I'm full now.

That never happens to the Fatpuss - or me!

I've digressed a bit from my original statement, which was about laziness and Sundays. I think it feels lazy today, because this is my first weekend in a month where I didn't have a market stall. And how relaxing is it to just wake up at one's own pace, and potter about doing a bit of stuff, without a timeline or anywhere to be? I'd almost forgotten how pleasant the weekend can be.

So here I am, sitting on my chair, sniffing the scent of the erlicheer jonquils in a vase nearby, watching the wind outside, and unwinding for the first time in a VERY long time.

Things are definitely looking up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A collection of random thoughts

1. Walked to work this morning and in the park I saw a red weimeraner with a big smile on his face and his tongue flapping about as he had a lovely time scratching up the new grass. It gave me a smile too.

2. Wanted to ring my parents recently for a chat, except I can't because they're on holiday at the moment and no way to reach them, and I thought: this is what it will be like when they're dead.

3. Keep forgetting to post new "About A Boy" Hoot I've made for a colleague's son

4. The heels on today's pretty red shoes are too high. I think I'm giving up high heels except for special occasions. This will decimate my shoe collection. Therefore, must work on increasing the proportion of ballet flats. Will visit http://www.frenchsole.co.uk/ for inspiration and ahem, assistance in this measure.

5. Miss My One True Love, who's doing a lot of travelling for work at the moment. It feels like we've spent hardly any time together over the past few weeks, what with endless market days on the weekend and his work schedule during the week.

6. Too fat. Must stop eating cherry and chocolate slice.

7. I'm looking forward to the weekend, because I'm going to start a new skirt - the Study Hall Skirt by Anna Maria Horner.

8. Am very happy about being accepted to the new Sunday showings for the Rose St Market. I will have to make some new things - any ideas out there that you could give me?

9. Do ducks get cold in winter, swimming about on the cold water?

10. There really should be some kind of limit on the amount of Disney pink a young girl is allowed to wear. We should legislate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's Tuesday and I can't wait .....

..... to finish work for the day so that I can get home and start playing with the MAGNIFICENT bundle of new fabrics I picked up last week at the MARVELLOUS Belsize Square sale!

See them here in this photo, in all their wondrous glory. Behold. From top to bottom there is:

*Orange honeycomb by Kei Fabrics
*Water Lotus in Forest, Amy Butler
*Polka Line Raspberry, Anna Maria for Free Spirit
*Something fleecy I don't know the name of
*August Fields, Bright Buds in Ivory, Amy Butler
*August Fields, Bright Buds in Aqua, Amy Butler
*Bandana, by Moda
*Pink Lotus, by Kokka
*Red Dance Floor, Anna Maria Horner
*Orange Playground, American Jane

Love them!

I've been quite good lately, I've hardly bought any new fabric since the last blow-out I had in Coffs Harbour (of all places). And it's been some time since then, and I've had quite a "glass half-empty" period in my life since I got back, as many of you would know.

Ordinarily this would mean I'd engage in retail therapy, but I've been trying .... TRYING .... to respect the bounds of the New Frugality that My One True Love and I have imposed on ourselves.

And then I got the notice that Katrina at Belsize Square was having a sale, and I couldn't resist. I've needed retail therapy. Needed it.

So I went along, and I must say that I was very restrained given the fabulous things on sale - Amy Butler, Kokka, Trefle, Anna Maria Horner, American Jane (all my favourites!) - and I limited my self to a certain expenditure upper ceiling. Which I then only exceeeded by, ahem, 60%.

But it was worth it. The stash is wonderful, it's all lovely bright colours, and it was the perfect pick-me-up.

Hop on over to Buttons By Lou Lou and see who else is playing It's Tuesday And I Can't Wait ....

Friday, July 10, 2009

I opened the mailbox ....

.... and inside I found this lovely little surprise from Buttons By Lou Lou!

Now, Lou knows that I am a cat freak. And of course, so do you if you read this blog regularly.

(For those who are interested, Fatpuss is going to the vet tonight for a weigh-in, and My One True Love and I are biting our fingernails with anticipation. God I hope that cat's lost some weight. Or we are going to be in big trouble. But that's another story ....)

I think it must have been my obsession that led her to send me some of her adorable pussycat line, and lo and behold, two bobby pins and a headband have appeared in my postbox.

I absolutely love them - especially the yellow cat with its eyes closed. I love yellow, and this will be the perfect accessory for when I have my yellow shoes on.

Yellow is such a happy colour, it's all flowers and sunshine and lemons. Maybe not lemons. Lemons are sour. But on the outside, they look happy, because they're yellow. So okay, lemons. Flowers and sunshine and lemons and pinwheels.

So now I'm having a lovely, sunny day despite the weather outside. Thanks LouLou, for brightening things up for me!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heatpack: attempt number 2


Thanks to the ever-talented Sandra at Pepperberry & Co, I now have a MUCH better version of my over-the-shoulder heatpack.

This one looks soooooo much more like what it's supposed to.

No mean doorsnakes here, thanks to Sandra!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A mean little doorsnake


Bit of a disaster here.

I'm trying to make a heatpack, one that you can sling round your shoulders to loosen up those stiff, tight muscles.

But I think what I've ended up with is less like a heatpack and more of a thin, narrow, mean little doorsnake for your shoulders.

Where did I go wrong?

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm on the Living Creatively blogroll!

First, here is the latest Hoot. His name is "Everywhere A Hoot" Hoot.

It's because his front is made from gorgeous Alexander Henry fabric (in green tea colourway) and there are marvellous little owls printed all over it. Isn't it adorable?

And his name is slightly lateral, it comes from the nursery rhyme "Old McDonald Had A Farm" .... and yes, you've got the obvious link now, it's Here a Hoot, There a Hoot, Everywhere a Hoot ...Hoot. Perfect!

And another bit of crafty news is that this blog is now featured on the Living Creatively blogroll - they of the fantastic Stitches And Craft show we all know and love - I am immensely proud of this! Have a look and check me out; I'm on the Sewing page of the blogroll. I am just about hugging myself with excitement. I hope I get to meet lots of new visitors! If you are new to this blog and you came to it via the Living Creatively page, I am very VERY happy to meet you. I hope you enjoy it here.

Lastly, I am about to embark on a new line of Hoots ... I remember saying a while ago that I felt there was a need for some slightly quirky toys to be added to my crafting efforts, in recognition of my appreciation for the arch side of life. And I think I've got a plan now, so watch this space for more news .....

(reverse side of Everywhere A Hoot Hoot. I love those hippos!)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On the cusp of something

Mostly, I like the shadowy corners of a room. Their dim, quiet darkness. The way the paint looks different.

Sometimes it's true I can't face them. There are days when they look cold, and all I want to do is light them, so there's no shadows and they're warm and the indistinguishable edges of the room suddenly move into sharpness.

But mostly, I like the shadows. They bring depth to a space.

I think there's a metaphor I'm reaching for in this. I've had two long days to think about it, you see. The Northcote Winter Artisans Market (Saturday) and Sonny and Coco (today) were practically deserted. And having no customers means an awful lot of time to reflect. When not eating cupcakes and ginger spice cookies from Melbourne Epicure, that is.

I've had such a rubbish time recently, and it's moved me to tears of frustration and despair, but .... to draw the metaphorical bow even further .... thorns add beauty to a rose, through the sheer fact of their stark contrast.

I can feel the rose in me somewhere. It's at periods like this that I feel myself on the cusp of something. Like the creativity is leaching through my pores and just aching to give way to something amazing. It's as though a tooth is coming in.

Like there's a book inside me, or an act of greatness, or a momentous realisation.

It's like an ache, a yearning, so visceral that I can feel it pressing out from my sternum, and it makes me want to lean forward as though I'm being pulled by something.

But how to reach down to the middle of me, through my innards, and find the edges of that thing amongst all the glistening slipperiness of my organs? How to extract something which doesn't exist except inside my cells? How to make it real?

How to enter the shadows, and bring out bright light?

Friday, July 3, 2009

A big thank you

THANK YOU to everyone who sent me fairy dust and sparkles!My smile today is much bigger than the one here on my new Catticus.

In case you're wondering, it really truly worked. I blitzed my important appointment yesterday and that is a huge relief to me. I was sure I'd be all morbid and morose and completely unsparkly, but you - you lovely people you - made sure I felt confident, happy, and comfortable with myself. Thank you! I really could not have done it without you.

And so this post will not dwell on the unhappiness on the previous one.
Instead, I am going to show off some of my latest creations, which will be coming with me to the Northcote Town Hall market tomorrow (between 10-4pm, heaps of parking nearby, and the Number 86 tram stops right outside on High St.)

Here is Cinnamon Spice Hoot.

And this is Salmon Ella Hoot (geddit?)

And this is Spaced-Out Hoot. (should I call him Uni Student Hoot?)

And last but never least, here is Chairman Meow, who will be keeping Catticus company. He's a much more pleasant version than the original, of course ......

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take the good with the bad ....

First, the good news. I discovered one of my items was featured on the Storque blog on Etsy!

This is absolutely massive for me. And it helped me feel a bit better after my rubbish day today.

Here's the link to the post, which is all about Parties In The Backyard - and if you scroll down towards the bottom you'll see my pink Perfect Picnicroll in all its glory.

Now for the bad news, which has made me feel quite down today.

First, a bad sleep last night (again).

Then, a crap day at work (surprise).

These were topped off by the fact that I randomly found two hurtful comments about me on the interweb - on the same post, no less - one from my older sister, and one from a boy I used to date in high school and who is still clearly pissed off that a few years ago when he came back here for a visit, from Canada where he moved with his wife, and wanted to "hook up" - she was at home in Canada, none the wiser - I just about laughed in disbelief at him. If you can laugh over email, that is.

Why is it that the most hurtful comments I've received since my foray into social media have been from the people who I actually know, rather than from random strangers who you might expect to take a potshot simply because they don't know me at all?

Am trying not to dwell too much, especially since I have an important appointment tomorrow that I need to be all bright and sparkly for. I need sparkles - NEED THEM.

Does anyone have any fairy dust they could send to me on the wind?