Sunday, September 30, 2007


It's a while since I've done any dressmaking, but I was browsing the pattern books this morning. There are three patterns which caught my eye... (Right click on a link and open it in a new tab/window if you want to keep this page open).

This skirt, which is reminiscent of Taking Shape fabric origami - View C (the middle one) is my preference .

(Vogue 7880)

This kimono jacket which would be cool for summer, and a chance to use a fabulous fabric

(Simplicity 4134)

And this quirky designer outfit, top and skirt, further fabric origami and embellishment

(Vogue 2971 by Koos Van Den Akker)

If you wonder how a particular pattern might be to make up, then Sewing Pattern Review is a site worth knowing about.

You really have to find a pattern you like a LOT, given the price of pattern + fabric + bits soon adds up - it's not worth making basics (as I remember doing as a teenager and in my twenties) because you can buy them more cheaply. But if you have the time and want something individual, it's worth it.

Marcy Tilton, who designs for Vogue, has some great unusual shapes with embellishment/stitching ideas, clothes and bags - here's a page with her designs.

It's also really fun to look at the shapes and styles in Vintage Vogue; there are some good bag patterns among the fashion accessories, too.


0709 breakfast
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It's not everybody's cup of tea (but then, I don't like or drink tea myself, so we all have our quirks). Twenty grams of fibre in there, before you get to the three grams in the banana. Low-fat, high calcium milk (it's amazing how rich standard milk tastes when you're not used to it - and it's not a madly fatty food). This works for me because it's decent, filling fuel to start the day.

If you want to see more nutritional data than you thought you needed (numbers! star ratings! pretty graphs! detailed analysis!) then prance on over to this site:
This is the small banana page, but go search and enjoy... I'm a tad boggled by the number of fast food chains in the US, lots more than you see here in Oz. The site will also suggest healthier options and if you register (free - just avoid the magazine sub/mailing list bits by ticking no) then you can create a "pantry" and analyse "recipes" (so for instance I can bung in the three items above and get a total analysis) or even your day's total consumption. The site's from Conde Nast publishers but the content appears pretty reliable.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perfumed rose

0709 perfumed rose
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I wish you could smell the scent of this rose. I was given it earlier in the week, from yet another gardener. It's nearly blown now, but every time I've been anywhere near it this week, its perfume is a gift given all over again. That perfect, rich, deep rose perfume you rarely if ever find in a florist's rose. The colour has deepened from red to burgundy, and those subtle shadings are just as beautiful.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The story of the six Ken boys...

0709 6 Ken boys
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Once upon a time a friend of mine taught a senior high school Economics class. There were just six boys in the class - active, argumentative kids with an imaginative, very experienced teacher. They had fun.

One day, they went on an excursion. The six boys, being young, decided to amuse themselves in their choice of civvies (clothes) for the occasion (well, five of them did. The sixth, politically to the right of Genghis Khan, wore a shirt and trousers as he normally did, but was amused by the choices of the others).

They had thought this would discombobulate their teacher - it's not every class group, for example, with one boy wearing a long coat and, under it, a sign saying BOO! only visible when he suddenly opens his coat in front of people.

They had forgotten she had long experience of her own sons, and was capable of saying things at the Economics seminar like, "These are my sons, and they're not allowed to talk to girls," and of actions such as requiring them to sit with her in the very front row, in the sight of all... Besides, as she said, if anyone asked she'd say they were from an outback high school, far away from the truth.

Nevertheless, they all had an excellent day, one way and another.

During the two years of this class, the teacher rediscovered her childhood Barbie doll, and it set off a significant chain of events. In researching it on the internet, she discovered its rarity and value, and this piqued her interest in vintage Barbies and the vintage Barbie oeuvre. The social history intrigued her, and the quirky byways (Ken's best friend ??'s African American friend Alan, for instance). Not especially computer literate, her new collecting passion fuelled her interest, and she learned how to find and bid on (and win) vintage Barbies and Kens on eBay. She even bought a sniping program for last minute bids. She learned how to find and order books from Amazon - books on the world of vintage Barbies.

Her command of Barbie trivia is immensely impressive. She knows, for instance, when Barbie shifted from always being the nurse (to Dr Ken) to being a doctor herself. She can tell you that the first Ken had flocked hair (she owns one, now). And so it goes. She gets immense fun from this byway of social history and the ways in which it illuminates our society.

Her collection did, however, meet with some opposition at home (remember the sons?). She sometimes came home to find Barbies scattered on the table top, with Ken, gun in hand, standing over them... or Kens lying on the ground, looking up Barbies' skirts...or Barbie and Ken getting to know each other rather too well for family viewing.... She survived this, as she had survived the sons (who were otherwise turning out rather well) with aplomb.

Her collection - quirky rather than valuable - grew.

During their final year at high school, a helpful year adviser who knew of the teacher's collection, and of the excursion to the Economics seminar, suggested to the boys that, with the help of eBay and some sewing, a very fine present could be constructed for their teacher - viz, six Ken dolls dressed as they had been on that memorable day.

They hadn't thought of this (hardly surprising). They were rather unsure about something as girly as dolls, let alone the sewing.

The helpful year adviser showed them how inexpensive Kens (particularly ones without clothes and out of boxes) could be on eBay, and how many faces/heads there were, so they could find ones somewhat similar to themselves...She even bid on a promising lot of four Kens (on which the boys forgot to bid) and bought it to help them on their way....

To their credit, they pursued the idea - even though the very possession of Ken dolls, in the context of the school playground, held such potential for embarrassment that they were rarely brought to school, and only then in very very plain brown wrappers.

Weeks passed. A pattern was located, and a helpful mother, and again to their credit, two of the boys in particular solved the technical and logistical problems, did most of the sewing themselves (engaging with the entirely new world of dressmaking patterns) and today was the very last day of Economics for them, ever. The very last class.

They had a couple of other presents for their teacher - a bunch of flowers, some special certificates. Finally, they presented the well-wrapped box. Ripping through the tissue paper, my friend found the six parcels. At first, she was delighted with more vintage Kens to add to her collection (72, she tallied, 73...), but then the penny dropped.

Not just any vintage Kens. Outfits never seen before (canary-suited Ken? Ken in a Borat unitard, with a BOO! sign around his neck and a long coat? - although I should point out that the unitard wasn't what that student had worn on the day, but artistic licence because it was going to be funny...) and one Ken with a non-Ken head (Action Man donated a head more closely resembling the student in question).

She was overwhelmed. Amused. Delighted. Amazed. The boys were so pleased that their present was such a hit. They each signed their doppelganger (on the back of the doll) and willingly posed for photos (not going to blog those, sorry!).

But here, for your delectation, six Ken dolls you've never seen before and will never see again, and a fabulous, hilarious, apt, unique present for a much-appreciated teacher.

Postscript: one of the boys, for his Year 12 formal, needed a pink hanky for his jacket pocket, to match his pink tie. Couldn't find one in a department with the confidence of his new sewing skills, he bought some fabric and made one himself. FANtastic!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


0709 summery
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Today's clothes felt very summery - the skirt's got a wonderfully bold print in gorgeous colours (I wore it with a red top) and the red winklepickers hadn't had an outing in a while.

Where's rooruu?

It's the last week of their school lives for my kids in Year 12 - the formal last night, the graduation assembly things are a tad busy around casa rooruu. Regular transmission will resume shortly..............

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


0709 hair
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The hairdresser did a lovely not-mutton, not-lamb, unstructured/loose 'updo' for the big event tonight.

Monday, September 24, 2007


0709 ranunculus
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The gift of a generous and talented gardening friend - her ranunculus are rampantly beautiful right now, and her roses crammed with buds about to burst forth.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


0709 blossom
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I don't tire of photographing it, because it's here for such a short time - and when the weather gets windy, even less time. While some trees are absolutely covered, I rather like the ones like this too, with bare branches and then balls of blossomflower like hope made visible.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I went to Ikea...

...because their new catalogue is out and a browse was in order.

I decided I liked this set of velveteen curtains called Unni Rand. Not quite sure for where... but somewhere.

And this quirky stainless steel topped table/desk called Vikka Hyten/Vikka Fintorp
And this rug (although there's a folky arty one they had about three years ago that I still regret not buying). It's called Unni Cirkel.

And these curtains - which I bought for the living room. They're called Hedda, and I also got plain white net curtains (Wilma) to go under them. They're replacing something rather more cottagey, and are sending me on a house-reorganising frizzle, moving pictures/quilts around on the walls and thinking how things might be edited/refreshed. They're a bit of a departure, but they're wonderfully happy and cheerful, and it's good to revamp the house (especially with school holidays a week away - time to play!). What do you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


070928 gerberas
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
There are a lot of flowers floating around work at present - these ones were a wonderfully bright bunch.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Unexpected daisy

0602 blue flower
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Even the detritus of daily life, scattered on the pavement, is reflecting the retro fashion for 60s/70s daisies....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pink azalea

0709 pink azalea
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Just pretty.

It was windy this morning, and the blossom trees were surrounded by swirls of blown petals, some of spring being swept away.

Maybe one of the reasons I love the seasonal changes is their longevity - I remember wearing white azaleas in my hair in my teenage years. Today was nearly the last meeting of a 6 1/2 year project I've been involved with at work - my contribution is almost over. Things like that come, and stay, and change, and leave, but every spring the azaleas will burst out with cheerful beauty. asking nothing of you but to look and enjoy while their time is here, and to know that next year they'll return.

Mutton/lamb PS

Thanks for the comments (I knew I couldn't be alone...). Leah mentioned Taking Shape - yup, that's where I found the solution on this occasion (if you join their free membership scheme and shop when they have a new season fashion parade, you save 20%...). This is another view (the other one has closer colour to the actual, and no, I'm not going with the 'apron'...).

Monday, September 17, 2007


0709 may bush
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Wonderful white waterfalls, another sign of spring. There was one of these in my childhood's garden. They're not especially interesting for much of the year, but they make up for it, in spades, in spring.


Challenge: event I have to attend. Posh event. Well, posh-ish. My wardrobe is notably devoid of posh, given that it's not the kinda thing I attend much. Need to get something new - this is a special event.

See, I'm way too old to be lamb - and the event will be full of gorgeously dressed lamb - so I'm not going there in the fashion stakes. I refuse to consider being mutton dressed as lamb. It never works well...


I'm way too young to be mutton (not just in my dreams).

Went looking for garb, and the choice was pretty much mutton or lamb. Not a lot in between. Don't fashion designers realise that there's a market for sheep in transition? Maybe with the odd delusion, but hey, that's OK. There'll be plenty enough of my life when mutton's the only respectable option....but I don't want to dress like a mother-of-the-bride, for instance.

Does anyone else know what I mean? You're thirtysomething or fortysomething and know that you're neither mutton nor lamb, but would like some nice clothing choices for those occasional, inescapable, posh occasions. And other ones, for that matter.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maple in the rain

0709 maple in the rain
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Took this during last week's rain - every spring I am reminded of the little purple - blossoms, are they? that are part the maple's spring renewal. In a climate and place where so many trees are evergreen, deciduous trees refresh your view, remind you of change.

As did the birthday party that was on today - all the kids grow so fast, how did this one reach 6? Those ones grow tall enough to tower over me?!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


0709 crabapple blossom
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Ah, my absolutely favourite blossom tree - love the shift from tight dark pink buds to unfurling pale pink to fully open white.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Modern Life (a rant)

Scene: a pleasant cafe/restaurant, early evening, tables occupied by family groups, friends, couples.

At the table next to us, a couple with a child (aged about six or seven?). They came prepared. Wow. They unfolded a small portable DVD player, about the size of a paperback book, and placed this in front of the child. Who paid it some attention, but not a lot. No, they didn't have an earplug for it.

We had to have our meal disturbed by the penetrating noise - the babble and soundtrack music (different to the general buzz of conversation, harder to ignore) of cartoon adventures.

Why not just order take-away, and eat it at home, and plonk your kiddie in front of the teev? Why not (gosh!) teach said kid how to eat out, why not talk with him???

I don't get it, I really don't. This is a public restaurant, not your home cinema - that's one issue (if for some reason it's essential, then don't make it an audio intrusion, use earplugs). But why does this kid need this much entertaining? Can't you leave the DVD at home and make eating out a different experience?

I know there are restaurants with televisions. We didn't choose to eat in one of those.

Ye gods.

White banksia rose

0709 white banksia rose
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I thought I liked the yellow one best, but this one could make me change my mind... the banksia roses are rioting all over the neighbourhood at the moment.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pink blossom, blue sky

0708 pink blossom, blue sky
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Couldn't be anything but spring, could it? In the street of my earlier childhood, blossom trees in white and pale and dark pink lined both sides and were glorious in their season.

Blossom like that doesn't last - which is part of the pleasure it gives. When so much is available all the time, anywhere, on demand, it's good that we also have daffodils come and go, and spring blossom, and frangipanis scenting summer, and maple leaves in autumn, and the pleasure of a winter fire. All the seasonal stuff that puts you in the present and lets you focus on now - not regret or anticipation or all the many ways we think about the past and the future, but now. The sun is shining, the morning air is still clean and clear - but nippy, because it's spring. All good things about this moment. What can you see, or hear, or smell, from where you are reading this, that's good for you in this moment? I hope you have things to savour too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Banksia rose

0708 banksia rose
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
As the mornings get lighter and the days warmer (although it's still cooling down at night) the signs of spring are there in the neighbourhood. Fresh growth on the tips of pine trees, magnolias in bloom, blossom trees carpeting the ground with fallen petals and the jacaranda foliage yellowing and preparing to fall ahead of their purple glory in October/November. And banksia roses rioting over fences with generous heads of flowers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Magnetic decor

0708 filing cabinet
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This is my (I'm glad it's red) filing cabinet at work, decorated with a Christmas present from colleagues last year. Ah, Little Britain. Fun.

Various people helpfully rearrange them (and dress Daffyd).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Old homestead

0708 old house
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
When it was built, this house by the river would have been well in the country. Now, a busy road goes by metres from it on the far side. On this side, the land runs down a grassy slope to the river and the path along the riverbank (thus, I suspect, the barbed wire fence to deter unwanted visitors on their land). It's a wonderful old house, though, and still has extensive grounds.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

APEC 'funny shirts' photo

Ah, I was mostly right. The APEC leaders got a Driza-bone (coat) and an Akubra (hat). See the pic and read all about the contents of their goody bags here. (Who was it this week who said APEC stands for All Possible Expenses Covered?)

Computer history (or was it one-upmanship?)

Talking with a computer fellow at work yesterday, the conversation evolved (?devolved) into something resembling the song from Annie Get Your Gun, called "Anything you can do...". The fellow was enquiring into my computer credentials (possibly thinking a bit scathingly that I was some sort of johnny-come-lately ignoramus). Nope, I said. My first email address was at Rocketmail, I said (it's long since been swallowed by Yahoo). A little respect crept into his face.

I handbuilt a web site for my employer at the time, I said - when Sausage Software wasn't around, and hand-coding was pretty much the only option. Hmmm. He tried to catch me out by enquiring after my ICQ number, but I knew what he was talking about, and had had one (not that I'd used it much, but I had one!).

Netscape, he said. Yup. Used Netscape. Before Netscape and the www, he asked, hopefully... Yup. Messed around in a Mac world and other stuff. Early to mid-1990s, was when the internet started making an impact/becoming possible/available, although I'd had a computer for ten years by the mid 90s.

Ah, so much has changed. If you want to go play in the past, take a look at the Internet Archive, and check some pages you remember from years ago in the Wayback Machine there.

Anything you can do... I mighta played with sometime way back when then too. (He decided I did have some cred after all, and granted me grudging respect. Ha!).

When did you first start playing with the internet (or its forerunners)? How far back is your first email address?

Grevillea "Moonlight"

0708 grevillea Moonlight 2
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
These are busting out all over, not just the one in the garden here. Like the pink ones, they catch raindrops and sparkle with the reflected light. Sydney's long dry spell doesn't seem to have affected these, but the "Marmalade" grevillea planted next to this one has "gone to God" and will need to be cut up and dug up. When the weather's a bit drier (ironically). Just acquired some telescopic pruning clippers with mean-looking jaws, so there are a couple of things in the garden that oughta watch out.....

Friday, September 07, 2007

Lemons in the rain

0708 lemons in the rain
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It rained again overnight, but was sunny at times today. More rain during the day and tomorrow, and then fine weather again, they say. So sometime soon the lemons will be ripe for picking.

A lot of people had the day off today, a public holiday due to APEC, but not where I work. The roads were rather empty this morning and will likely be the same going home.

My biggest APEC question: what 'national attire' will be this year's APEC 'class photo' garb? (Otherwise known as the 'funny shirts' photo). See, it's the big questions of life that occupy me....

Akubras and Drizabones is my guess, with elastic sided boots, moleskins and check shirts. (No horses in sight, the equine flu's done for four legged horsy props).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Take a look...

If you want to see why I'm praising Lynelle's revamp of Australian Country Craft and Decorating, take a look here - you can browse the whole magazine online (if you look at nothing else, flip over to page 10 and the Vaucluse House article, and the article about its curator which follows and which has more beautiful photos - major eyecandy).

(PS. This is not a paid plug and I don't have any projects in this issue - but why not congratulate people on a job well done? So I am.).

Very pink

0708 pink project
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
A devious what-is-it? photo of my latest Recycled Threads project. I didn't do this bit of patchwork, but it's become something different from what it was to begin with - and remains cheerfully pink, a happy summer project.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pink grevillea

0708 pink grevillea
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It's been raining this week, off and on. The intricacies of the grevillea blooms catch and hold the water, making them even more beautiful.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Trying to catch up a bit, so I'm gradually backfilling to preserve (the illusion of?) a photo a day. So if you scroll back a bit you might find some stuff you haven't seen before....

Spring Belle

0709 Spring Belle
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The lovely Caity mentioned this quilt a couple of days ago - it's had a happy reception, which is just lovely (C's making one already! - not Caity, another C). I like that it's easy to make. And that it's working well as a quilt (it's on the bed right now). And it's happy and purty and awash with colour.

(Design by Ruth Buchanan, Australian Patchwork and Quilting vol. 16 no. 12).

Monday, September 03, 2007

Baby quilt

0708 quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This one's from found materials, a wonderfully crazy animal print for the back and calm colours for the front. Can't show you more till it's published....(Australian Country Threads, in a few months).

Sunday, September 02, 2007

New! Beautiful!

0709 new magazine ACC
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

My friend Lynelle has put heart and soul into a revamp of Australian Country Craft and Decorating magazine, and this 'relaunch' issue - out later this week - is not to be missed. I don't just say that because she's my friend, either. The photography is outstanding - wonderful details of Vaucluse House, for instance, carpets and wallpapers and kitchen vignettes.

There's a peek at the issue here with a YouTube video and a flick-the-pages opportunity.