Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yellow roses

0709 yellow roses
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Not from my garden, but from a friend whose garden is just beautiful right now. Garden roses are so much more real, and a little messy around the edges, and smell so much nicer than florist roses (which rarely if ever seem to have a scent at all).

I've been moving and sorting and spring cleaning more things around the house, and it's still at that seemingly-endless stage of looking worse before it looks better. So it's good to focus on small beautiful details, while the larger picture is still a tad chaotic.

Monday, October 29, 2007


0710 green plant...
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Isn't the contrast between the delicate sprays and the green leaves beautiful (it's probably a weed, but it's not in my garden, so I can just enjoy it in happy oblivion!).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Vintage car manufacture mosaic

Vintage car manufacture mosaic
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
So what do you give the car mad nevvy who's about to have his driving test? Something to remind him of car history (which he likes too) - although as he pointed out, it does skip a step or two, from billycart to complete vehicle in one go does seem to require perhaps a bit more detail. But he liked it.

The pictures are from a vintage brochure. As scanned, they had age marks and blotches, which is not unexpected. They were printed on a BasicGrey scrapbooking paper which also had marks and blotches (on purpose) and which nicely conveyed age while concealing the scanned pictures' marks. (I use BasicGrey paper a lot, and it was my first thought for printing these).

For those of you who have seen the quirky Australian film The Castle, these are destined for the pool room. He hasn't got one yet, but this is almost enough reason....!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Old codgers

0710 codgers at work
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The old codger count was raised around here today, which made for a delightful day. They solved many problems of the world throughout the day's conversation, made and installed an Ikea cupboard (pics to come) and put in these hooks (pics of what it was for to come also). They talked knowledgeably about number 8 screws and particular drill bits and other handyman/carpenter jargon, worked out creative solutions to challenges posed by the tasks and were great company. We all had a happy day!

Friday, October 26, 2007


0710 vintage mended bedsheet
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Whoever bought this bedsheet first chose quality (well, the label says so!). There's something touching and thrifty and humble about the stitching across the top hem to strengthen a section worn by time and use. A different mindset to what you mostly see today, to mend and thus preserve the usefulness of the larger item. It's not particularly expert-looking stitching/mending, either - s/he might not have been quite sure of what to do, or particularly handy with a needle, but had enough determination (or need) to do something rather than let the whole sheet become torn and useless.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Light surrounding you

I rather like this song at the moment. Caught up with the video on YouTube, and while you go, what the??? through it, the AHA! image at the end is worth it.

(Light Surrounding You/Evermore)

Sewing room dresser (a work in progress)

Jars of buttons, tins of scraps and more, including the blue sewing machine I bought years ago. Dolls by two different, very talented, dollmakers.

Sorry about the light - it's being gloomy right now, so the natural light is limited and I had to resort to overhead lighting and the lamp in the corner.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sunshine quilt

0704 "Sunshine" quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This one was published in Australian Country Threads magazine as a Recycled Threads project earlier this year. You know how sometimes a quilt will tell you who it's for? Not in an ooky way, but you find yourself arriving at a conviction regarding its future. Well, I finally worked out who this one was for, and gave it to them today.

It went well - it was an unexpected gift on a day that wasn't going at all to plan for them, (I didn't know that last bit of information), so a sunny happy quilt out of the blue was (inadvertently) particularly well timed. Good! The weather's just turned a little cooler too, so it will be able to go to work straightaway.

What is your risk of breast cancer?

The (Australian) National Breast Cancer Centre website has just launched an excellent online calculator so you can learn more about your risk level for breast cancer. It will take you less than five minutes, doesn't want to know your name or email and gives you an excellent evaluation of your risk factors and what you can do to lower your risk.

Click here.

Paint colour

The dresser is painted Taubmans Etruscan Blue. The paint is Dulux Aquanamel in semi-gloss. A one litre tin has done two topcoats on the desk and the dresser and there is a little left (but only a little).

I picked the colour to be close to the blue in the curtains. And because it's purty.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sewing room dresser

0710 blue dresser - before
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This is the dresser before painting. It's got an antique stain and semigloss varnish. Perfectly pleasant, but in this room dark and too dominant, and it's time for a change...... (Cue splutterings from appalled menfolk).

This is after. How lovely is that blue paint? Doesn't it just look cheerful and happy? And lighter (even though the first photo was taken with the light on and the second with early morning daylight)?

0710 blue dresser - after
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

And this is an example of the new brushed metal handles. What I particularly like, apart from the shape, is the tiny spike on the back - a nice design feature. When screwed onto the drawer or cupboard door, this will stop it rotating. A small, clever innovation.

0710 new handle
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Monday, October 22, 2007

How to appal a man

I've tried it on two, and so far it's infallible.

Subject: wooden dresser, currently stained (to a medium vintage sort of colour) and varnished (as it has been for the last twenty years since I bought it new).

Me: I'm going to paint this for my sewing room

Man: I'm appalled! (also, How could you? and Look at that lovely grain! and But wood is timeless! and so on)

(what is it with men and timber?????)

Pictures to follow...it's getting the same blue as the desk. Yum, I say, unmoved. One more coat to go. And it is a much lighter presence in the room, I have to say, than it was - it's not a large room, so a large dark presence isn't what you want when you're trying to make it airy and light.


0710 pink geranium
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
What great colours for a quilt - particularly the pink and orange. Yum.

Friday, October 19, 2007

They're back (II)

0710 green Christmas bauble
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Nice combination of greens (see, you can find quilt inspiration everywhere) - chartreuse and rich lime.

I've been culling stuff at home (see earlier discussion about books) and when it's time to put up the Christmas decorations, it will be good to give them the once-over and refine the collection.

I cast my eye over Ikea's assortment - just in store - and wasn't desperately tempted, except by the diode-light-in-felt ones. They were inventive...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

They're back.....

0710 red Christmas bauble
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Ah, Christmas is here. Well, so the shops would have us believe. Nothing like a twizzy red bauble to make you start fretting about the Christmas list...

(By the way, I did find some fabric to put in the fabric cupboard. Whew! I could've been worried it would stay empty...)(Nah, that wasn't particularly likely!).

More sewing room photos will come in due course - still getting it organised. Next: the bookcase.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fabric cupboard

0710 fabric cupboard mosaic 1
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This is the cupboard I was painting on the weekend for the sewing room (Dulux Roland is the paint colour, a pale blue/green). The brown wooden surfaces inside the cupboard just weren't going to be good for fabric and I figured paint would be safer. It's also so much lighter now, not a fabric dungeon.

The roses fabric is shelf lining. It took one coat of undercoat/primer and two coats of paint - really sucked up the undercoat, but now there's a semigloss surface and it looks much better. Gosh it was fun to contort about painting under shelves...but there's no brown left. The exterior got painted too. It's only a modest op shop find cupboard, but it works.

Now to see if there is any fabric in the house which could be stored in here. Hmmmm. Think I'll find some? Think so...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Colouring-in bird quilt

0710 colouring-in bird quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The colouring-in bird fabric is from Moda (Uptown by Erin Michaels) and is just great - such a quirky, fun idea. There are some fabulous retro/mod/ recoloured/ vintage-inspired fabric ranges around with such happy colours to play with.

This is going into Australian Country Craft and Decorating, out in a few months' time, so I can only give you a glimpse for now - sorry!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sewing room

0710 sewing room 01a
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
New curtains (Ikea - the ones that caught my eye a couple of weeks ago) and a vintage desk with a paint colour taken from the curtains (Taubmans Etruscan Blue, the one I was waxing lyrical about the other day) and it's a start...Still plenty in there to sort out. It's not the bigger idea involving last year's French doors, but a doable-for-now smaller room. Very happy with the curtains and paint. I have a red rug for the floor (also Ikea) (it's a bit Cath Kidston, the sky blue and red) and a dresser to paint - it's a work in progress. But I thought I'd show a little here, so you can see.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


0710 pathway
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Tomorrow is the start of a new week, a new term, a new path curving off into the distance. Sometimes this path is muddy underfoot, but we haven't had much rain, so it was dry, with buttercups dancing on the verges.

Paths like this remind me of one of my favourite photographs, W. Eugene Smith's iconic "The Walk to Paradise Garden" (which you can see here ).

Colour me happy!

I've been painting - the interior of a cupboard to house my fabric, and some dining chairs, and a couple of little tables for the living room, and a sewing desk (all are vintage/second-hand finds). Aren't paint chips just seductive?? My hands (despite work with the pumice stone) are evidence of industry, the tin of undercoat is getting low - and there's more to do tomorrow. I think my favourite of all the colours is the pale blue (Taubmans Etruscan Blue) on the sewing desk - it's the closest match I could find to the blue in the Ikea curtains (the ones with the wiggly designs) which are going to go in that room (the living room ended up with some other curtains). It's not the major studio, but a small room that will work as a studio for the time being.

Photos will come. The inside of the cupboard was dark, boring brown, and the desk was dark, boring brown. I wanted a happy colour to work on and a light colour to illuminate the interior of the cupboard. I learned, from one of the small tables, that crayon is immensely persistent, and you have to buy another tin of stuff to undercoat it with and stop it bleeding through.

But that blue! It's clear and happy and itself. Lovely.

Looks like the thrifting book mystery was solved - thank you for all the comments. I don't get that paper so I didn't know about the freebies.

I really understand people who can't cull any books. I do. It's not as though I culled a major percentage - oh my goodness no... If in doubt, I kept it, and yet there were some I didn't doubt and really won't miss. One day I'd love to have a library room, floor to ceiling shelves and everything visible and in the one room. With a good reading light or two. And comfy chairs to curl up in, possibly a good deep window seat too. Doesn't that sound appealing? But for now, I'm working on a sewing room, and it's making some progress.

It's interesting, when you start trying to reimagine your home, how difficult it can sometimes be - you're used to things where they are and used as they are. Some of the 'working' time has been just sitting in the room, and thinking about how it could work, and what's needed. I know some people who move stuff around in their house regularly, but that's not really how this house works.

But then, having sat, and mulled, and let your mind wander around with possibilities, you have those lovely Aha! moments that let you see things afresh.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Orange nasturtiums

0710 3 orange nasturtiums
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Growing wild beside the path - their leaves, in particular, always seem art-nouveau-ish to me. They're such cheerful, adaptable plants - there were some in my childhood home that grew where nothing else would. These three look like they could be a trio of girl singers, brightly coloured and ready to sing.

Thrifting book mystery

0710 Thrifting book mystery
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It happened again today, and here I present you with the evidence.

Does someone know why there is a copy of this book (usually this edition) - Prey, by Michael Crichton - in EVERY op-shop (Goodwill/Oxfam etc) shop I go into? Guaranteed. Even ones that aren't adjacent, but hours apart. Did they print gazillions? Does every reader hate it enough to toss in five seconds (I haven't read much of his work, but I remember The Andromeda Strain being good....)????

I started noticing months ago. Last week an op shop had FIVE copies of this edition, all in a row, and a separate copy of a different edition. I catch myself looking for it now, along the op shop bookshelves, and pretty much every time, there it is. However madly popular a book has been (and I don't recollect this one barnstorming the bestseller lists, although I might not have been paying attention at the right time) there is no other title I can think of that has appeared so consistently.

It's a mystery!

Culling books

Um, well, I did find some I could do without. Four boxes...the bookcase I was working on doesn't look exactly empty, but I don't think I'll miss any of the ones that are going to find new friends. (At this point my bookloving friends are astounded, and my clutterbusting friends are rolling their eyes and wondering why I thought I would (let alone should) keep everything...).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bridge and sky

0710 bridge and sky
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
These contrasts always fascinate me - the sharp geometry of human architecture/engineering, and the ever-changing fluidity of clouds in the sky/the natural world. We like to impose order (of course, the bridge would be a tad nerve-racking if it wasn't so trustworthily geometric - probably a lot less safe!), for all sorts of reasons. And order can be pleasing in its own way too - you have only to think of the aesthetic of the Shakers.

I was talking with friends today about our books - we're all readers and have houses furnished with bookshelves. I asked them if they ever culled their books - they recoiled! Books are memories made visible, memories to consult - no, they don't cull.

There are many books in this house. Most I can't/won't cull. But looking over the shelves, I see a few - not many, but some - that I could now send on their way and not especially miss, or so I think. When I've moved house, the removalists are always astonished at the number of books here - apparently many more than most (subtext: normal!) people. I find a fairly bookless house unnerving - but then, I've always been a reader. It's genetic....

So in spring cleaning and imposing that order on the house, some books will go. But most are like those clouds, part of an ever-changing landscape of memory and imagination, part of where I've been and where I am and where I'm going, too precious to part with.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Purple bud

0710 purple bud
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I'm sure I've quoted Larkin before: The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said.... Doesn't this bud look as though it's about to burst forth? Pointed, poised, ready to be. It's just a weed, or so I suspect, which was on the verge beside the path on this morning's walk. But beautiful, too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Banksia rose arbour

0710 yellow banksia rose
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Still not my garden.... But the flowers were cascading around this: I liked the contrast of yellow/green with weathered wood.

Still working on the quilt. It's amazing how much faster the unpieced borders of a frame/medallion quilt are, as opposed to when you reach an outer row of ninepatches which are 3inch finished... Hmmm, that slows you down rather a lot. I'm using fabrics from Uptown, FreshCut and Chez Moi, along with bits and pieces from some other 'modern' ranges as well as some hand dyes, and it's looking busy but happy. It will be interesting to photograph it and see how it looks, if a photo clarifies its structure.

I had an email today from a lady who made a quilt based on one of my designs that was in a magazine within the last year. It was great to see how she'd taken it and made it her own. I always hope that my designs do that, rather than demanding slavish imitation. It's lovely when someone takes the time to show you the quilt they've made.

Unrelated factoid. Today I read that the Arnott's biscuit (cookie) factory makes five million Tim Tams a day. Someone's scoffing them at an astounding rate of knots (or maybe the export market's bigger than I had guessed). Five million. Yikes. Every four days they make enough for every man, woman and child in the country to eat one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Blue iris

0710 blue iris
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Not, I will say up front, my garden, but someone else's. I took a bunch of photos....

Most of today was taken up with another quilt, which is still in progress. I used to garden a lot more than I do now - the quilting's kinda taken over.....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Flowering cherry

0710 flowering cherry
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Yet more blossom - but these blowsy, generous blossoms are so worth sharing. They're in my parents' garden, the whole tree looking just wonderful, despite a windy weekend.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Vintage wooden toy train

0710 vintage wooden toy train
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
On Saturday my dad and I went out for a happy day beetling around op shops and junk shops and garage sales and antique shops. We saw (but did not invest in, and I use the word 'invest' purposefully!) this wonderful Depression-era wooden toy train. Dad makes wooden toys - the toaster with pop-up bread is a perennial favourite with kids - so we always keep an eye out for examples of wooden toys. This one was priced at nearly four hundred dollars (Australian), so we enjoyed seeing it, and photographed it so we could remember how delightful it was...but did not buy.

Friday, October 05, 2007


0710 eyes
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Ah, but whose eyes? The scary thing is that the inspiration was a picture that I was solemnly assured was a portrait of me. Hmmm. Those modern young artists....

Ah well, can't be said I never put pics of myself on the blog (hey Isabelle, if the photo from last week made you think I was younger than you'd guessed (it was a flattering angle!) I've no idea what this will make you think?!!).

To be published in Recycled Threads in Australian Country Threads magazine in a few months - can't show you all of this till after that.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oriental quilt

0710 Oriental quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
There are way too many gorgeous Asian-influence fabrics around. So what's a quilter to do but play with some?

This will be published in APQ (Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine) in a few months, so I can't show you a proper pic till that's happened.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Challenge quilt

0710 Challenge quilt (not squared)
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
For all its manifold pleasures, the mosaic maker does square up each image. So since this quilt is rectangular, here's another image of it, finished, and in its native rectangular state.

There is either text or an initial on each block, and vintage green buttons sewed onto every intersection.

I know it's busy, but I like it that way - it's honest in relation to the original vintage blocks.

Guild Challenge mosaic

0709 Guild Challenge mosaic
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The Quilters' Guild of NSW annual Challenge was this year taking the theme, "Looking Forward, Looking Back". This is a step by step of the quilt I made for this challenge. It is constructed from both old and new fabric, the old taken from vintage blocks (omigosh! she cut up vintage blocks!) (nothing to worry about, they weren't going anywhere as semi-orphans until I came along).

My quilt is a family tree of a kind, with initials of people and in embroidery (redwork) the enduring qualities of our family, such as laughter and affection. The second-last picture is the completed quilt.

It was fun to play within parameters set by others and see what arose from it.

The challenge quilts go on tour for two years throughout Australia, so it was nice to document this before it travels off.

I called it, The More Things Change: Family Tree

It is an original design.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


0710 pet lamb
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It's not every day you see a pet lamb tethered outside a shop. The owners said it was a very photographed lamb, so I'm just following along.... (wonder if they'll still take it in the car when it's bigger? It's five weeks old now, apparently).

Monday, October 01, 2007


0709 Crocs
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
You know it's spring when the Crocs come out of hibernation (I know you can wear them with socks, but I don't....). For chuck-on-to-wear-around-the-house shoes, they take some beating.