Update on what’s up…

I have been in quite a fug lately. Feeling lonely, not knowing how the future will pan out, wondering where I am going to live when this lease expires next month, hating winter, being cold and miserable (by my standards anyway!), blah blah blah. Despite how I sound, my life is good, but sometimes I need some help to see it. I made the decision to up my meds and the effect has been good. I was initially reluctant because it has taken me a year to decrease them by half, but needs must and here I am. Feeling less shitty, more hopeful and a lot stronger.

I rode to work this morning in the dark, it was a bit odd but I really needed it for my sanity as well as my physical health, I can tell I am better. I have discovered that I am a fair weather rider and last week was rain, rain, rain. Oh how I missed my bike. Today I am tired but satisfied.

I’m so much better that I actually did some sewing on the weekend, that is how the pills can change me when I am down.

…and let me say felt is a wonderful fabric.

There is so much to recommend it, no fraying, no requirement for oversewing, stability +++, bright colours etc etc.

I made a jacket a few years ago out of some wool/rayon mix felt, initially it was quite stiff but over the years it softened and was lovely to wear.

(burdastyle.com/…/winter-you-give-me-the-blues) , I loved it and wore it to death (literally), it was retired last year when the house sold and oh how I missed it.

The lovely thing about felt to wear is that it is very light (almost weighs nothing) but is very warm and knowing how I loathe winter and being burdened with heavy clothes (layers of them), I thought it was time for another lightweight jacket.


It is another Lotta Jansdottir Pilvi jacket. Whilst I am not a huge fan of raglan sleeves, this little jacket is so nice to wear and easy to sew up, I thought another wouldn’t hurt. I made it first in denim last year (here). The felt this time is made from viscose and time will tell as to its durability. It feels finer than the wool and I am not sure it was a good choice- we will see…

I’m not sure if this colour is what Americans call Kelly Green, but I am afraid I will resemble a leprechaun when I wear it! You can see I put some contrasting braid on the inside (my daughter thought it was a bit attention-seeking on the outside) which I think is a nice touch, IMG20180610084727.jpg

but I am concerned that it is a bit bland and am now madly looking for a green tatty flower I made a few years ago to pin and make it a little more interesting. If I can’t find it I will just have to make another one.

The wooden button was my daughters choice, I would have gone something bigger and bolder (and may well change this one in the future) as I think it is a bit subtle for this colour and style.

We are a little way off the shortest day and I always feel better when it has passed. I am madly looking at real estate to buy and I have another rental picked out to tide me over in the interim. My lovely son is off to Japan for a holiday after exams and then he is flying the nest to live in student digs on campus- I will miss him as he has matured into a lovely, sensitive young man and my daughter and I are bouncing off each other at the moment (not too badly, but she is somewhat less biddable than I am used to).

The future is looking okay…


Does pride goeth???

I am just a teensy bit proud of my latest efforts in making.

(What feels like) a couple of years ago, I started working on a piece of fabric, learning to do free motion machine embroidery, it was not really a project as such, more a scrap which could turn into something. The fabric was a piece of Ikea stuff that I had made a top out of and I liked it, I may have even mentioned it some time ago (but I can’t be bothered looking- sorry-not!).

Anyway, as time went on and it got to look a bit nicer, I thought I might make it into a cushion for my Mother. She was an embroiderer (hand) in the past and really likes soft furnishings with that kind of embellishment (as do I).

So, to cut to the chase… I used a whole bag of stuffing so it’s nice and firm and heavy, plenty of support for Mums back and here it is 🙂


On the weekend, I wondered why it took me so long to make and besides the amount of time each little picture took to embroider (between 20 minutes and an hour each!)  I realised that it was because my ex-partner resented the time I spent sewing. I am relishing the freedom to do as I wish with my time and not be beholden to look after the emotional needs of a very needy person, it is blissful.

One of the activities I promise myself I will do when I am retired (which is about 16 years away) is ceramics. As a child and teenager I loved working with clay, our property in Darlington was surrounded with beautiful red clay and there was kaolin going begging at the old quarry up the track in Glen Forrest. When we moved to another part of Darlington when I was 12, there was no clay, but my cousin came to the rescue and gave me a huge bag of brickmaking clay from Midland Brick where he worked as an electrician. When my children were smaller, I would go off to Jacksons in Jolimont and buy bags of beautiful terracotta clay for us all to work with. (hmmm, what is stopping me from doing that now I wonder…).

So I don’t have any clay at the moment, but my friend Ange and I went up to Joondalup recently and spent the evening doing china painting at Fired Cafe. Forget pastel roses and dainty teacups, that is NOT my style! I wanted something bold and ended up buying a bowl and painting an oversized paisley on it.

img_2336 (before)

To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I picked it up after the firing, but it has grown on me (I may be even a little bit proud of this too).

img_2335 (after firing the glazes really brighten up)

I am keeping it because it’s a bit rough, but I am going back and will be painting a tray, probably with a “Scandi-style” pattern of leaves or feathers with the idea of giving it to someone as a gift.

Do you ever feel proud of something you’ve done, but keep quiet because it’s not the done thing to “blow your own trumpet”? My parents who were somewhat spare in their compliments and we were not encouraged to think too highly of ourselves. The old saying “Pride goeth before a fall” (is that the right spelling?) makes me reticent to puff up my chest and go “Look at me!”. In some ways I think I am not in the minority amongst people my age; I am thinking something might bring me down a peg or two after this blog post!

As an aside- Salsa has had to be ditched, I am having some pretty intensive physio on my poor, wrecked back and there is no way I am going back on a dance floor in a hurry 😦

The Inner Critic

One of the negatives of attaining age and wisdom, is an increasing reluctance to expose oneself to failure. I have always been my own worst critic, calling myself an idiot is fairly commonplace and while I don’t really think I am an idiot most of the time, it is my go-to descriptor when I let myself down and do something silly.

Last week, my friend Angela and I started a beginners class in Salsa. Now we are two mid-50s girls who clubbed our way through our early twenties, you would think we know a little about timing etc…wrong!

Turns out, we are strictly “free-style” (as Ange calls it) and the foot moves are proving difficult for these former New Wave/New Romantic afficionados.

I really can’t stand it when I am crap at something. Years ago I did an 8 week Jazz Ballet introduction and I am embarrassed to admit that it took all that time for me to master running across a room, why did I expect Salsa to be any different?

Ah Salsa…the fluid movements, lithe bodies, beautiful skin, short flared dresses, what a lovely image. TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY AARON MAASHO Dan

Ah Salsa at 54…the wooden jerkiness of a 54 year old with a long-term back injury, the thickened waist, the sun-damaged skin and the clothes chosen to conceal the lumps and bumps, it doesn’t sound like the same dance does it!

To be honest, very few of us in the class are any good, although some of the blokes think they are hot (when all they are is sweaty!). Although the instructors are lovely (and it’s wonderful to dance with someone who knows what to do), I have a feeling that the forced jollity of a group of people who have really very little talent may end up wearing a bit thin.

Will I continue?… it remains to be seen….

Busy, busy, busy…

It has been so nice getting back into the stuff that I have neglected or not had the emotional energy to deal with. Gardening, blogging, cycling, sewing; these things all make me happy, but when the day-to-day was all I could deal with, they took a back seat.

It has been lovely pumping up the tyres, oiling the chain and jumping on my bike for a recreational cycle, I just love living close enough to the river to walk or cycle there plus it’s a decent workout (and I really need a lot of those!).

As mentioned in a previous post, my sewing room is set up and functional, although the Bernina is making concerning buzzing noises and is having an enforced rest, so I have been embroidering on my Janome and sewing clothes on the Pfaff. The Pfaff is easily my favourite machine, it never lets me down despite being around 25 years old (I think). It has quite a workout in the last 6 weeks, which proves how much I have missed sewing.

My first project was a Pilvi jacket using the pattern by Lotte Jansdottir.

img_2246   img_2239


I really like Lottes textile designs and her clothing patterns are unstructured and very suitable for a short person like me. This jacket turned out very nicely, but there is one problem, I always overcompensate for my size and therefore it is too big 😦 I just never trust a pattern to fit, so I am generous with my cutting and fitting (and often regret it later). The jacket is made in indigo, stretch denim and has the inside edges bound in a pleasant quilting cotton, I finished it with some contrasting braid to break up the expanse of dark blue. Unsurprisingly it is very comfortable and warm, but I need to sew in some hooks and eyes to detract from the oversized nature of it.

If anyone is interested, this pattern and the next came from this book  img_2248

My second sewn piece is an A-Line skirt, also from Lotte Jansdottir. img_2247

It is a very simple sew, especially as I made it with an elasticated waistband. The fabric is a lovely remnant from Knitwit in Nedlands, I think it may be a wool mix, but it is very light and will probably be okay to wear on a cool evening as well as right now with this changeable weather we are having here in Perth.

Finally, I wanted some colour. I do get tired of the muted tones of winter clothing; at this time of year, all the inspiration has gone from putting an outfit together, it’s more a case of co-ordinating a look and wishing for the change in season to hurry up.

I bought some textured bengaline from Knitwit. Bengaline is a lovely fabric to sew with, heavy, but drapes well and not too slippery on the sewing machine bed, it’s only drawback for me is the stretch threads looking messy without some sort of overlocking. Because I gave my overlocker away, all my raw edges are zig-zagged, which stabilises the threads, but isn’t as polished in its look.

Anyway, I originally wanted some red work pants, but the textured nature of this fabric made me rethink and I made a skirt instead.

The pattern came from this book

You may be able to see that the skirt has eight panels and I thought it was a bit interesting. Again, rather than using a zipper, the stretch of the fabric meant I just put a waistband and it pulls on. It is extremely comfortable and my work colleagues all commented in the positive about the colour and the panels. My one regret is that I listened to my daughter and shortened it.

Without thinking, I just took the length off the bottom and now my bottom panels are somewhat overwhelmed by the length of the top ones- ergh! My work mates very kindly said they thought the effect was deliberate. One thing I did do on purpose, was to topstitch in alternating directions as I thought it would make the panels a little more noticeable. I really like topstitching, it’s a little polish that says I have taken more time over the making of a garment.

Next on my list are projects for the future.

I am in the process of free-motion embroidering a cushion for my Mother, who turns 88 in October, the work is somewhat laborious, but the end result will hopefully be worth it. She shares her birthday with my little niece who turns 1 and I will be making her a patchwork elephant, similar to the ones I sell as fundraisers for the Womens and Infants Research Fund at the hospital where I work.

Plenty to do for the future and life is good 🙂


Walking amongst the dead…

cemeteryI have been in my new place for 6 weeks now, that went very quickly. All is going well and the children (young adults) and I are happy (they have mentioned that specifically!).

I have done some gardening (even though it’s a rental), explored the suburb (I like it) and get some joy every day by walking through Perths main cemetery to and from work. I think the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who like graveyards and those who don’t, I am definitely in the former category. I have been fascinated by cemeteries, funerals and grave goods for years, ever since going to Gin Gin cemetery as a teenager and seeing the devastation an epidemic can wield over a small community (Gin Gin ).

Studying Anthropology both at university and informally has only deepened my liking for the fascinating subject of the customs associated with death in different cultures.

Karrakatta Cemetery is the biggest in Western Australia, it is HUGE. I thought it would be full, but there is a load of space for everybody once they leave this life. The amount of money that families spend on honouring their dead loved-ones is truly eye watering. The size of the monument doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the status of the person for whom it was erected, (although a number of famous Perthites  of the past seem to be well-represented by large monuments). There is an ordinary gentleman who has been honoured with (I presume) a life-size statue of him, there he is looking benevolent, leaning one hand on a tree stump, all carved beautifully in marble.

The relatively-new Mausoleum is pretty fancy and is the final resting place of mainly Italians, a throwback to the way people are buried back in the old country. I don’t understand mausoleums, I suppose like most things, they have come about because of necessity (though what the reason is I don’t know), but I don’t really warm to the idea of a body not being disposed of, merely “kept” in its place (for the future???).

There are plenty of pretty ordinary areas in the cemetery, but there are also some really beautiful parts. Ferns, rose gardens, lawn areas, open-air chapels etc etc, it is really a place to relax in and collect ones thoughts (especially after a challenging day at work).

One of my work colleagues is mystified by my affection for graveyards. She finds them scary and very unappealing, my son will walk though the bushland adjacent to Karrakatta, but avoids the actual cemetery saying he thinks it smells strange (does it really?). As an ex-Palliative Care Nurse, death involves many emotions for me, but fear is not one of them.

The place is full of Little Ravens. I don’t know why they live there (there doesn’t seem to be anything edible for them), except that they are largely undisturbed and can do what they want. With gay abandon, they pull the flowers left at the graves, out of their receptacles and seem to scatter them about. Real or fake ,it doesn’t seem to bother the ravens what sort they are, the birds just seem to enjoy playing with them.

Really the only off-putting thing I find about the place is its poor signposting and the ability for sensible people to get hopelessly lost (yes, I regard myself as sensible), even the map is only marginally helpful at getting one on the right path. When I mentioned the organisation (or lack thereof) of the place to one of the multitude of gardeners, he rolled his eyes and told me I should talk to the designers who dreamt it up 100 years ago! He implied that working there didn’t necessarily mean he found navigating his way around any easier than the general public.

My Mother is nearly 88 and in very good health, I hope she stays around for a few more years; we have discussed what to do when she (as she puts it), “Pops her clogs”! She hasn’t dealt with Dads ashes at all, they are sitting in a box in her wardrobe and my brother and I have been told to get rid of them when she dies (thanks Mum!). Since I now live close to the so-called “dead centre” of Perth, I have been talking about a double plaque for her and Dad in one of the rose gardens (as they were/are their favourite flower). This suggestion seems to have some approval (both from Mum and my brother), so that is probably going to be what happens. I think it would be nice to go and sit by them and bring them both up to speed about what’s happening with the family. I know of course, that the ashes are not them and will be just a memento of the two people who gave me and my brothers life, but still….


What do you think of funerary rites, graveyards and death, do they give you the creeps like my work colleague, or are you more like me with a fascination for all of it?


How to dress an apple so it doesn’t resemble a turnip

Okay, so I don’t really know how do do that 😦

I have spent most of my life being a somewhat waistless thin, but muscly person, then menopause hit and I have become a waistless, flabby woman with waaaay too much “condition” on me.

I think of apples as being delicious, crisp and beautiful  9849406-Ripe-juicy-apple-isolated-on-white-background-Stock-Photo-red and turnips as being ugly, squat and nasty-tasting vegetables. Hence (although I am no longer crisp), I have the capacity to be delicious and beautiful, however, too many times I end up a turnip turnip-24-56a8c50e3df78cf772a074e4

Do you ever find that you start off your working day looking (what you think) pretty great and then you catch a look in a shop window or somesuch and reality hits, it’s a sobering experience that can get you down if you let it.

I have lovely clothes and plans to make even more (time is an issue here), but sometimes I just can’t seem to get it together. Sometimes I make something that just does not suit my body type and I end up wasting a beautiful piece of fabric, other times I just wear unsuitable clothing because I like the quirkiness of it (have always liked the though of being viewed as a little weird!).

So how do you dress an apple? I am liking Lagenlook more and more, the secret to it here in Australia is to make the layers very light in weight, otherwise it’s just too hot in summer.  What isHowever, there is a little inkling that stops me embracing the Look with gusto and that is, it appears that it really only appeals to women in mid to late middleage (like me) and there is always the knowledge that it’s hiding something 😦

I HATE that idea! You see, in my head I am still 23 years old and I do not see any 23 year old girls wearing the Look.

It’s a dilemma for me, this ageing thing.

How do you “cope” (if that is the right word)? I actually love my life, I am happy in my head, happy with the life experience that allows me to not sweat the small stuff (well, most of the time), happy with my face, happy with my family etc etc, but the ageing thing? Nope.