Monthly Archives: February 2016

Who’s been eating the flapjacks?

My newly planted tub of succulents has a mystery pest. Each morning I find that a hole has been chomped in another one of the leaves of the kalanchoe thyrsiflora. They are eaten from the centre out, not from the edges. Whatever it is has quite large mouth parts. I thought it might be a snail but no snail trails on the plant or nearby.


The only way to find out was to go out well after dark.

First I disturbed the ringtail possum that has been dining on my quinces. It quickly exited to watch from high in a nearby eucalyptus.

I then found an ant highway, several millipedes and one small snail heading towards the next juicy leaf of my precious succulent. Needless to say it didn’t stay long.

I also found which spider has taken to making its web on my clothesline. As I had suspected, garden orb weavers, two different variations side by side. Unfortunately I had inadvertently walked through the web of the larger one. This is a hazard I face every morning at this time of year, sometimes I spot the webs, but often I get a sticky facefull.


Sewing machine acquisition

The latest addition to my sewing machine stable is this little figural machine I picked up for not much more than the cost of a cup of coffee. Like most machines, I didn’t go looking for this one, but couldn’t resist his bizarre charm.

The Lovely Pony Sewing Machine is made in China, and is probably not that old. I found updated battery models were available online in 2008 with a lamb and an elephant in the range. My toy has been played with and has lost its spool pin, tension disc and needle. I doubt that it ever sewed, the feed dogs and looper are very flimsy.

While sewing machines in the shape of a seated lady or a lion were made in the very early days and are highly prized by collectors, I have not seen a figural toy before. There have been a few toys made in the shape of a sewing machine, but not many as it is a difficult form to adapt and probably not as familiar as a car or a train.

These are two that I have in my collection. The Sesame Street Baby Toy was made by Illco from 1988 to 1992 and the Vivid Imaginations’ Teeny Weeny Families added a sewing machine clothing boutique and house  to the range in 1995.

Kimono House visit

There is a very interesting exhibition of Boro currently on display at Kimono House in the Nicholas Building in Melbourne. Boro means ragged and the textiles are utility items created by the repeated patching of worn garments and bedding. This patching was done on the inside so that the contrasting pieces would not show, and dignity could be maintained. Of course now we love to see the pattern and texture of the layers of cloth and stitching.

The pieces on display are from the Meiji era 1868 – 1912 and included farmers jackets, vests, a child’s kimono, tatami cover and many futon covers all patched in indigo dyed cotton fabric pieces that had been put aside for such a purpose. The ultimate boro it the dust rag, carefully stitched with sashiko to strengthen the cloth and make useful when no other purpose is possible.

I enjoyed viewing this exhibition and the demonstration of the stitching with a group of friends. Intrigued by the use of needle and thimble I have searched out a video which shows the sewing of a seam. The needle is held still and the fabric moves rapidly in the hand of this expert seamstress who uses her toes as a third hand.

While there I mentioned that I had a number of sewing boxes, haribako, which literally means needle box. So here is a picture of one of them.


The raised arm has a pin cushion on the top and a hole beneath to attach the “third hand” which is a metal clamp to hold the end of the fabric taught while the kimono is being stitched. The arm also contains a bamboo ruler. This one is metric, which became the official measure in 1924. One of my other boxes is older and has a kujirajaku rule, a unit of length used in clothing and based on the length of a whale baleen. The box is made of Keyaki wood, from the Zeltova serrata or Japanese elm. It has beautiful colour and distinct graining which continues across the little drawers. I use this sewing box for my hand quilting supplies.

Summer projects progress

Over the summer I have had a few things on the go. The Allietare mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter has been fun, a lot of piecing using only fabrics from my stash. To make sure it looks very scrappy I have taken to laying out the units before I finalise blocks to make sure there is an even distribution across the whole quilt. Still a lot of holes, but in the home straight on this one. This has been a great project to share with friends, as many others have done. See many more on the link up.

Allietare layout

The garden project is finished. The last part is a simple water bowl with a solar powered pump making a pretty bubbling stream when the sun is shining. After visiting a number of suppliers, in the end I used just two terracotta pots, some plastic tubing, a soy milk container lid and a bit of plumbers silicone tape.  It makes a gentle sound as the water spills over onto the stones. Already thornbills and fantails have it on their morning rounds. The waterlilies in another of my ponds have flowered beautifully all summer.


And as I have finished the Montmellic Mystery quilt, I have gone back to the Morrell Quilt, also by Di Ford. This quilt has 60 blocks plus a central medallion and includes hand piecing, fussy cutting, needle turn appliqué and button hole broderie perse as some of the many techniques used. I started this quite a few years ago in a class with Di at Needles and Pins in Warrandyte. So far I have completed 27 of the blocks and the centre, so nearly half way.


This broderie perse is a pleasant block to work on in the evening.

Finally, I am on the Waverley Patchworkers Quilt Show committee my local guild in Melbourne, Victoria. Our show is on 28 and 29 May 2016 at the Mount Waverley Community Centre, so I have been busy helping get things underway. While I was not involved in the creation of the quilt that is going to be raffled in support of Waverley Benevolent Society, I was as excited as everyone else when it was unveiled at our meeting last month. It is stunning!