We're heading furthur north, to stay in a cabin in the woods for a few days. I'm hoping the children will do some skiing (I'm not too keen on it), i'll finally finish the brown cardigan it's taking me months to knit, and we'll explore a new part of Norway. See you next week. x
I wanted to make a dress for my sister while she was staying here, and she pulled this fabric off my shelf. It's some block-printed cotton from Africa; white with black and rich purple patterns. It seems like it belongs in a warmer place than this, and since Sarah will be back in a NZ summertime this time next week, it was just right.
I used this pattern (i've sewn it up a couple of timesbefore) and some plain black cotton to line the bodice part of the dress. The African fabric is a kind of light gauzey cotton, so it will be good for over other clothes and jeans, or on the beach. Now, that does seem a rather far away concept...
I made some small purses this week from bits of my embroidered linen, for today's shop update. And then, a little collection of brooches from different coloured bits of wool felt. Just because I needed to do something while watching Nigella Lawson on TV. Arlo's been writing in his diary, and he even wrote me a little song. Noone's sure how it goes, though.
My little sister, Sarah has come to visit us this week on her home from a winter working in the US. I've decided one of the best combinations is coffee, cheese scones and a chat with a sister.
Super-quick cheese scones:
2 cups plain flour (or a combination of white and wholemeal) 2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup grated cheese (or substitute raisins/dates/other dried fruit) 25 grams butter 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup water sunflower/poppy seeds
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in grated cheese. In a small saucepan, melt butter then whisk in milk and water. Slowly add the liquid mix to the flour, stir then turn out onto a floured surface and knead a little. Pat into a flat-ish rectangle, then cut into 8 or so shapes, top with extra cheese and sunflower seeds if you like. Place on a floured baking tray and bake at 200 degrees C for about 10-15 minutes.
Here's a small tulip-embroidery I worked on beige linen with some thread hand-woven by my friend Karuna. The beautiful old book in the top photo, 'Swedish Embroidery' by Eivor Fisher (Anchor Embroidery Book No. 2, 1953) was a gift from Jannelle, and it's become my favourite thing to browse through whenever I get a moment. It includes a history of embroidered textiles in Sweden and Scandinavia, and also instructions for a few different designs- some panels, curtains, cushions and table runners. The little tulips I stitched were greatly influenced by this piece in the book, by Sonja Reinfeldt.
I love the bright tones- and the choice of orange and blue together- quite unusual but striking.
I think the inspiration for this shirt came from a handful of beautiful vintage mother-of-pearl buttons I was given a while ago. There was something so delicate, yet heavy and chunky about them, I decided to save them for some clothing. And then, I found this checked fabric at one of my flea market adventures in Oslo- I think it's a linen/cotton mix, and quite old because of its narrower width. Dark red and navy on cream. The pattern is model D from this book, again. I'm pleased with the pattern- but if I were to change anything, I'd make it a bit longer next time. I forgot to add extra length when I was cutting the fabric- and the shirt is a little on the short side (I'm around 5 ft 7").
It was quite simple to make, but rather slow, because I decided to hand-stitch the bias binding around the gathered neckline and sleeves. But I think it's nice to spend a bit longer on something you're going to be really pleased with in the end. I never used to be that way- maybe I'm growing up!
It's probably no surprise that I have a thing for old-fashioned New Zealand baking. I was thinking for a while that I would try to recreate a tearoom-classic once a week, as a kind of homage to my Nana, whose baking repertoire regularly included such delights as scones, lamingtons, afghans and anzac biscuits. She really was a great baker. It's probably best for health reasons that I haven't followed through this plan, though.
One thing I particularly remember her making was Louise Cake. It's an old-fashioned and delicate slice with a shortcake-y bottom, raspberry jam in the middle, and a coconut meringue baked on top. Perfect in small squares with coffee for a proper afternoon tea. I made some last week for dessert with friends, and used this recipe. I also found this one, which has whole raspberries in it, and seems like a more modern take on it.
A new set of 'foraging satchels' and two new dolls for my shop update today. I think that these are the last of the green satchels for a while- until I find some more of that minty green linen I love. The doll on the left is wearing a little dress made from some dark brown and cream Liberty lawn I bought in London last month. I just had to buy it when I saw it. I'm pleased I did- I think the small-scale, folksy print is perfectly doll's dress-ish.
I think this is the last day of having two children at home- Arlo is nearly recovered from his flu. Thank goodness. But it's been fun listening in on them while I was working today... when it was cheerful playing, at least. They played their favourite games on high rotation: Baby, Baby is Sick, Baby Birthday, and Baby Dragon is Sick. Yes, really.
The Baby Dragon required a new skirt for dancing in when she was well again. I made this skirt from a funny old lacy tablecloth, inspired by Juju, again. I do love that book.
We recently finished reading 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' to Arlo, who was enthralled by it. I remember feeling the same way when I read the series when I was about ten years old. And there's something a bit strange and special about revisiting such books again as an adult. It never seems to feel so magical, somehow.
Anyway, it was nice to see Arlo get into it, and he requested a special King's Cloak, like one that Peter might wear in Narnia. I made it from a piece of orange and red wool fabric I had on the shelf, and a big wooden button and some brown cord to fasten it. We're still working on the crown and sceptre, because the broom just isn't cutting it. And there's also been a request for Turkish Delight. He thinks it might be quite addictive.
We had a lot of snow fall over the weekend. The branches on all the trees seem to be collapsing with its weight. But the snow has brought with it a general glow and light that even shines through the curtains at night, and reminds me of the summer evenings. What else to do on a snowed-in day with two sick children at home? Make paper snowflakes, of course. And look out the window a lot.