Wednesday, November 16, 2011


These photos have been sitting around on my computer gathering cyber-dust. Time to put them up on the blog. I don't really have much to say, just 'hey look, I made some vests'. 

The brown Milo (no cable, I opted to leave it out for my attempt) is for a little fellow who will be entering the world in the dead of Northern Hemispheric Winter. 

The navy tweedy vest was given to a little chap named Arthur on the occasion of his baptism. It struck me as a very 'Arthur' type of vest (though the pattern, found on Ravelry, is called Colin). 

Susannah, sick of modelling vests for other infants, finally claimed her own version of the Colin, made from a delicious possum merino blend.

 That's that really. Made vests.  Dressed poor daughter in vests to take happy snaps. Gave vests away.

So there you go. Vests.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time: a few thoughts.

Hello blog.

It's been a while. I've been lurking around the blogosphere, but not really engaging. My time and energy has been better spent elsewhere. Maybe I'll get back to some type of regularity soon, but no promises. I certainly have lots of parenting-living-making-cooking stuff in my head that I'd love to think through and talk out. Not to mention a backlog of made objects that I could show-and-tell. But I'm feeling a bit aimless, a bit unsure of where clutterpunk fits into the wacky world of blogging these days, and particularly unsure of where it fits into daily life. I do sometimes scratch my head and wonder how I used to make the time to hang out over here so often.

Funny thing is, I'm not absent because I'm busy. Quite the opposite. I'm very, very unbusy, and deliberately so. I've been on the s-l-o-w bandwagon ever since the monotasking revelation, and the slowness is continuing to seep into the corners of our way of life.

But wait - don't I have three kids at home? Isn't life busy? "You must be busy!" is the constant remark that all mothers of young ones are familiar with.

 Not really. Yes, there is a certain amount of relentlessness and perpetual motion to the whole thing, the waking-playing-eating-messing-fighting-dressing-eating-packing-unpacking-talking-walking-fighting-scooting-biking-fighting-talking-reading-painting-cleaning-holding-washing-cooking-eating-bathing-reading-cuddling-sleeping that goes on between the hours of 6am and 8pm (and the feeding-holding-rocking-cuddling overnight). The boys in particular are constantly moving; they do what they do with vigour. But our time is our own, and in the spirit of idle parenting we have not scheduled much in during the week apart from kindergarten, which leaves us flexible with time and able to spend it as we please.

And as a family we like to spend our time on relationships. We're people people, and we've been spending a lot of time with each other, and with friends old and new, and with our Creator, and out and about in our neighbourhood. As an 'unwaged' person, time is my commodity, and I've been really grateful about that choice during the last six months, which for a variety of reasons has been a relationally intense time. People have needed me and I've needed people. Relationships thrive on time and I've had time to give (if little else!).

Blogging to me is also primarily about the relationships, which is why I don't like posting if I can't also give time to reading and replying and interacting. I probably need to figure out whether I want to 'make time' to reinvest in the blog and the blogging world, and what that looks like.

Meanwhile, time passes. From my current vantage point, it feels like it is passing slowly, and that's a good thing. 

Susannah at six months.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Angry Spoons

I've been in default gloomy mode this week.
Some difficult stuff going on for close friends is weighing heavy on my heart. 
I've felt cynical and jaded.
The babe has been favouring night-feeds.
My eldest has been sick and whiny.
My middlest has been constantly contrarian, rough and ear-splittingly loud. 
I'm told I have symphysis pubis dysfunction which a right-royal pain in the... pelvis.
I can't get back to running for at least six months.
We've watched too much television.
There is a vague but persistent poo smell in the living room which we can't locate.
Someone ate all the chocolate.
(Oh wait, that was me. Great, now I'm fat too).

I think my 2-year-old really managed to capture my mood in yesterday's defiant graffito: 

Angry Spoons (2011) 
by Charlie
Permanent marker on stainless steel


If I take the gloom-filters off, there has been so much good in our week this week.  I just need to go back through it, to see it all again without the storm cloud.

The arrival of awesomely retro hand-knits from Great Great Aunty Audrey:

Glorious sunshine and a burgeoning veggie patch:

Our first radish harvest:

And a new favourite, rocket-radish-carrot-apple-mint-parsley-lemon salad:

A finished knitting project in deliciously soft, saturated yarn:

Finally being able to dress the girl in the sweetest of cardigans:

Nudists and slave labour:

A few hours of fun with coloured rice (inspired by Emma):

Leaf tea enjoyed in my beautiful birthday cup (c/o Melski):

Some baking and yarning (both kinds) with a good pal:

And a lovely project that's spanking along:

So many enjoyable moments. So much to be grateful for. I guess it wasn't all Angry Spoons over here. 

How has your week been? 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Can't blog. Knitting.

Can't blog... can't take photos... can't finish sewing projects... can't cook decent meals... can't pay attention to the kids...

Must. Knit.

Oh yes, I've been whacked with knit-fever. I know, I'm so five years ago. Apparently the whole world has been on ravelry forever. And yes, I've read about this around the craft blog traps, but have always had my sewing, baking, home-making blinkers on and have largely avoided all yarn-speak.

Now the filters have changed. It was my birthday on the weekend, and to celebrate I was granted a boy-free day. I spent the morning at the Craft & Quilt Fair, walking disinterestedly past stalls of fabric and sewing tools and making a beeline for anything smelling vaguely of lanolin. I barely glanced at the spectacular quilts on display, yet I chatted at length to the lovely women at the handknitters' guild table. Not quite sated, I then spent the afternoon in Morris & Sons stocking up on needles.

Meanwhile the clutterpunk boys, having somehow clued into my new obsession, were off arguing over which knitting books their nutty mother/wife might appreciate for her birthday. Apparently consensus could not be reached:

Interestingly, the children were insistent on the more practical knitting guides, while the husband clearly has more subversive intentions for my newfound passion.

Of course there is no spectacular finished object to show for all my knitty obsession. I have taken the unusual (for me) approach of tackling things appropriate to skill level and not taking shortcuts. I've made washcloth which is lovely but not photogenic. And I've almost finished a two-tone ribbed scarflet for myself. In doing so I've discovered the joy of knitting with beautiful yarn and needles, even with large amounts of ripping out and re-knitting involved.

(Note to self, work on joggless joining!)

I have also been coming to terms with the infuriating aspects of knitting. For example, the beautiful yarn that looks perfect for a little girl's vest but feels like knitting with chalk:

And the three attempts to obtain correct gauge with said yarn before giving up and finding a different yarn...
which happens to be a hank... 
which happens to get in a terrible tangle... 
which requires a long-suffering husband and a frustrating hour to get sorted out...

Nonetheless, I'm all in. Knitting, I know its going to be a lifelong affair. 

Although I suspect that life may be shortened somewhat by a tragic knitting-needle-related 'accident' if I continue to infuriate my family with the refrain "just let me finish this row".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back on the bike

Team clutterpunk are back on the bike!

Well, most of them are IN the bike. Can you believe there are three kidlets in there?

I stopped riding in February when I hit the seven-months-pregnant mark. We were asked to car-sit for a friend for 5 months, which was a wonderfully-timed provision: we had been discussing hiring a car for a few months to ease our transition to five, to make sure I could get to hospital quickly during a blink-and-you'll-miss-it type labour and to give me a bit of postnatal recovery time. We gratefully accepted the car and sent Hudson to be bike-sat by a local family who were keen to try him out.

So in these last months we've had time to test out whether it's time for us to buy a car. 
The answer? Not yet! 

We appreciated many things about driving again, particularly the ability to be more spontaneous about visiting people and places further afield. But there was so much NOT to love, beyond the obvious environmental issues. The stress of getting three kids in and out of a small car; the parking difficulties and time-limits; the car-sick-prone child; the money-haemorrhaging. We've decided to opt for the mild inconvenience of having to plan ahead with public transport or car hire for a few more years, while the kids are still small and life continues to be slow and locally-oriented.

Anyway, Hudson is home! And set up for riding.

Here's how it works: the two boys on the bench seat, and the baby in a car seat which we've fixed securely in the front section.

Everyone is snug-as-a-bug. Susannah seems comfortable enough in her car seat and it certainly provides a good amount of restraint and shock-absorption. 

I love being able to put one kid at a time in the bike and leave them there while I fetch other things. I love that I can park right next to our front door in bad weather. I love parking right next to kindergarten, or church, or a friend's house, rather than three road-crossings away. I love that I can pull up outside the bakery and duck in while 'leaving the kids in the car' without breaking the law. I love being able to stop quickly and comfort the baby, break up a fight or fetch a dropped book. I love the Melbourne mizzle on my face and the bracing air while my kids are toasty and dry under the prairie hood. I love hearing the boys chatting and singing and calling out to passers-by.

I love being back on the bike.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Knitting? Knitting!

Until two weeks ago, I was a fabric girl. Not at all your yarny type. No skeins or sticks lying around, no k2p2 bizzo going on around chez clutterpunk, no thank you very much. I was Not A Knitter.

Well, that's changed. And about time.


See that there? That's a SCARF. Made it myself! A ribbed scarf with a keyhole opening in it, no less. And there was even unknitting and reknitting involved, and yet I finished it. 


I know it's ridiculous to be so pleased. It was, of course, quite basic. But you see, I'd come over all perfectionist again without even realising. I'd told myself and numerous others that 'I don't knit'. What I thought I meant by this statement was 'I don't care to knit'. What I actually meant was 'I can't knit', which is perfectionist-speak for 'I would really like to knit, but when I pick up a ball of yarn and some needles for the first time I am not instantly, effortlessly brilliant at knitting and therefore I really should just leave it to the experts and stick to what I know, which is nothing much of anything and why am I so crap at everything and blah, blah, blah.... oh look, a cupcake."

So anyway, down with perfectionism and up with knitting!

As it happens, I don't think I could have held off much longer. The yarn-obsessed world was conspiring against me.

The arrival of a most stunning dusky pink in threes cardigan by that almighty stick-wielder, Tania;

A visit to my dear friend Anna, clutterpunk's preferred providore of finely knat washcloths and beanies, who introduced me to Ravelry;

The constant sighting of gorgeous milo vests made or in making, and the fact that I keep returning to oggle at them;

The revelation that my mother, whom I have never accused of doing anything craft-related, is KNITTING a gorgeous garter-stitch jacket for Susannah ('oh yes, I knit' she announced breezily, producing a perfectly-tensioned work in progress as I picked my jaw up off the floor - where have you been these past 35 years, knitting mother?!);

And finally, the sudden remembering that the very first therapeutic act of craft I committed four years ago, after emerging from the PND haze, was the knitting of a beanie for my newborn son. How could I have forgotten that? Knitting was the first step towards the unravelling of perfectionism. It's well and truly time to recommence. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the mending mentality

Do you mend stuff?
What do you keep? What do you throw out? How do you decide?

I don't think I'd ever mended a thing until about three years ago, when I first started sewing. I didn't grow up sewing or making or mending, so it just didn't occur to me to try it. 

Pretty shocking really, to think that until that point in time, it did not register that I could, and should, try to salvage my clothing. I have no doubt I threw things away for want of a new button, or altered hemline. I guess I really did think of clothing as essentially disposable. 

Now I have a dedicated basket for clothes which could use a patch, a stitch or a potential refashion. Some things sit in there for long periods of time. At the moment I'm finding myself delving in more frequently, when I have a spare ten minutes, because it's great to do something a little productive, a little resourceful, a little achievable; something that feels a little bit like creativity even though it isn't. 

I confess my mending is not neat, or pretty, or clever. Sometimes it doesn't work very well. Many clothes are too 'past it' to make them salvageable. Still, it's become important to me to try to give my family's clothing that second, third or fourth chance. Not because we are short of clothes or need to be frugal per se, but because we're working to build more of a make do and mend mentality. Respecting what we own, taking better care of it, avoiding the desire to toss things out or 'upgrade' just because. 

While I was stitching away at this rip in my husband's shirt, I felt a renewed determination to keep working at our ethical clothing pledge. I'll save an update on that for another time, but I've certainly been less consistent in the last year. The mending pile betrays some poor clothing choices on my part - next to the third-hand toddler jeans and the accidentally-ripped work shirts, there are items that were just ill-fitting, bad-quality, 'disposable' choices in the first place. They sit there awaiting some refashioning inspiration, reminding me to think harder next time.

Do you have any mending tales to inspire me with?

Monday, June 20, 2011

This Just In: Bonnets are BACK!

Move over beanies and bucket hats. It's all about the bonnet now.

What a charming way to protect a precious little head from the elements.

Until last week I was slapping hand-me-down beanies on Susannah when we went outdoors. Then Christy of little betty asked me to try out her sweet, reversible little bonnet pattern.

What, get to try a new pattern?
Complete a sewing project?
Make something pretty and functional?
Take gratuitous shots of my daughter?

I was so happy to oblige.

Susuannah herself was slightly less obliging in the modelling department...

Amore enthusiastic model was found in my friend's delightful girl, Baby V, who wears the little bonnet for you in both its forms below:

I think Christy's PDF pattern for her little betty little bonnet is first class. It comes with three pattern sizes (0-6 months, 6-12 months and 1-2 years), each of which can be made from two fat quarters of fabric. As you can see, the 0-6 month size I made fits newborn Susannah (loosely) and also 9-month-old Baby V. It looks adorable on both, if I do say so myself!

Christy's step-by-step instructions are clear, concise and easy to follow. I find sewing small, curved things a bit tricky but Christy included helpful photos, tips and explanations which guided me through the finer points to produce a well-structured, well-finished little bonnet.

I'd like to add that I think the pattern is quite a bargain at $6 USD from Christy's little betty etsy store

Of course you could just cut out the work and buy one of her gorgeous bonnets already made up - but then you'd miss out on the fun of choosing the fabrics out.

Speaking of which, I'm off to look through my stash to find fabrics to make another bonnet for a 1-year-old, and perhaps another one for Susannah lined with flannel, and maybe a softer one using some reclaimed embroidery... yes, bonnet-mania has struck!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mystery sewing

A month ago I started having recurring dreams. Each night I found myself transported back half a lifetime to high school. Each night I would bumble around innocently reliving my youth, until the inevitable horror struck. And each night, it was the same horror: I would find myself in a classroom, only to discover that I was about to sit an examination, in a course that I had apparently signed up for but failed to attend for the entire year.

I'm no interpreter of dreams, but for me that one is a no-brainer. It's a classic procrastination dream. Clearly there was something I was avoiding that I knew was going to catch up with me if I didn't acknowledge it pronto. Only I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was trying to tell myself. Outstanding bills? Nope. Work deadline? Oh, that's right, I haven't had one of those for about two years now. Event horizon which is causing me stress? Come on, the only major event of the year was birthing a child, and that's done and dusted!

 Finally, last week, I got it. It was about the sewing machine.

The poor sewing machine. It's been packed up in a box since well before we moved. We parted on bad terms - it had lower thread tension issues, I had unpicking fatigue. I was waiting for the perfect time, the perfect project, the perfect motivation to get back on the horse. Of course there wasn't one, so  last week I plucked up the necessary courage and just did a spot of mystery sewing.

Here's what came of it... and it remains a mystery!

When I started foundation-piecing these kimono offcuts together, I think I was envisioning a scarf. Initially, I cut my patchwork into three long strips and tried them around my neck. But no, it wasn't quite right. So I sewed the strips back into one piece, but in a different order.

Then I thought maybe I'd go for an Obi. I added wadding, and backing, and two waist ties. And then I put it on my waist and realised that THAT IS THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH I would like to draw attention to at the moment. Particularly with a big, bright, thickly padded belt.

Now I'm flicking between 'table runner' and 'fancy baby change mat'. Except in either case, it's really not practical, as vintage silks and brocades are not the most washable of fabrics...

Perhaps you have a thought about where this mystery sewing could end up?

The sewing might not be going anywhere obvious, but the sewing machine is back in action and you'll be pleased to know that I'm not waking up in a cold sweat screaming 'what's the square root of Shakespeare?' anymore.