Thursday, May 30, 2013

2013 Heritage Wool and Natural Fibre Muster Part 1


Last Saturday we went to the Heritage Wool and Natural Fibre Muster in Carcoar.


We turned up later than we hoped. Managed to drop in to the Bathurst Co-Op for veg and The Wholefood Kitchen for fantastic coffee and some delicious lemon and coconut cake on the way.

They had two gorgeous Alpacas out the front in a pen. Adorable things they are. The bigger one kept stopping the other one from getting to the food bucket.




Bumble Hill Alpacas

These are the gorgeous prizes for the raffle. The jumper on the left was so soft, knit in a fine alpaca yarn. Sadly we did not win. Would have loved that. The first prize is a beautiful woven throw rug and third prize was a cowl made with hand spun, died and knitted alpaca yarn. The proceeds of the raffle are going to aid the spinners in the Christchurch area.


I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to put names to most of the stalls. It was packed and I was in a lot of pain. I grabbed a whole heap of cards but I really can't remember which one went with which stall. 
This one I do know though. This is Casbar. Their farm is just outside Hill End, we're practically neighbours. 
There was a gorgeous grey fleece that I would have loved to buy but it was out of my price range. 
There was also some soft, soft alpaca, some beautiful spun wool and lovely jumpers, hats and scarves.

Casbar's gorgeous scarves and a jumper

Gorgeous hand painted yarn


Denise Lithgow Designs

Smooshy skeins, jumpers and hats

Pinwheel jacket and lovely pastel yarns

Dyed locks



Orange lace

The bobbin lace demonstrations were fascinating.


We ended up in a photo in the Blaney Chronical. We're in the third photo along watching 10yr old Anna demonstrate bobbin lace making.


There was a competition through the local spinning and craft groups. The theme this year was bags.

 It was a great day out with loads of smooshy yarn and fibre to feel.

It's great to get to see stuff in person, see what it looks like in natural light, feel what it's like, how stretchy or bouncy it is. Without Internet shopping we'd be terribly limited in yarn choice but it's so hard to know what stuff is worth buying.

We will definitely try and get to the muster again next year.
I have way too many photos for just one post so look out for part two soon.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Amazing Local Food Part 1: Thompson's Farm Stand at The Shed

Photo of sign saying Fresh Vegies, Chemical Free, Grown here' with an arrow pointing to the farm

One of the most exciting things for us in the village at the moment is the opportunity to get really locally grown fresh veg. In general, out here, local is a relative term. It's over an hours drive to either Bathurst or Mudgee to go shopping, to the chemist or the doctor etc. In previous years we've been able to get a fair bit of local fruit, mostly from the feral fruit trees that were planted all over Hill End in years gone by. This year though, with the massive lack of rain and heatwave in the Summer not much of the fruit we had access too was any good. The Cherry Plums in our garden went straight from not ripe to shriveled and pruny in a matter of days. We are completely on tank water and our tanks aren't very big so we don't have a lot of water spare for plants. We also  have a tiny garden and what space we do have, gets very little sunlight so we can't grow a lot of our own food. Because of this we're really enjoying the opportunity to get fresh, local and chemical free produce.

Photo of produce from the farm stand. Greens, celery, radishes, snow peas, local honey and local free range eggs

Bec and Dave have restored the old Thompson vegetable garden and are growing loads of fantastic food.
Everything we have bought has been fresh and delicious. There is also a range of fantastic preserves and local honey available. Bec has plans to source more local stuff and expand the farm stand once she has things sorted a bit more and is able to find the time.

Photo of the polytunnel and garden where the fresh food is grown

I've always been willing to drive a fair way for fantastic food but it's a real pleasure to be able to buy beautiful produce from just down the road, literally.

Photo of chard, snow peas, nasturtium flowers and two types of beans

If you're in Hill End on a Saturday then you should definitely check out the farm stand, it's open at 10am and is on Beyers Avenue, just after the road splits. Stay on the road towards Mudgee and the farm stand is on your right.

Photo of Farm Stand produce. Basket filled with persimmon and marigolds, bucket of greens, cut pumpkin and chard.

Photo of local honey in jars, radishes, chard and greens at the Farm Stand

basket full of persimmons and marigolds

photo of a white alpaca and sheep in the paddock that the farm stand is in

Photo of the Farm Stand while empty

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Looking Up

Lots to do and very little health to get it done.
For now, here are some photos of the gorgeous skies

I love twisted branches against the sky. 

We've had such bright and dry weather lately. Makes for pretty pictures but our tanks are getting low

Pampas grass is pretty. I thought it was declared a noxious weed so I'm not sure why it's still aroudn in the National Park



I may have done a little dance when I got that shot


The skies have been awesome lately




Saturday, May 18, 2013

Finished Projects: Part Two, the knitted hoodie commission

Photo of Ruth wearing a knitted jumper with a hood in a grey/brown colour, taken from the side with the hood down
Our other big project since the Hill End Market was our knitted hoodie commission.

While waiting for our steak sandwich and chips at Kepple Street Fish Shop, Ruth was knitting (as always), and ended up in a conversation with Georgie about it that finished with Georgie commissioning a hooded jumper for her son. Kepple St Fish Shop has fantastic take away food by the way. Many gluten free options available and I've never got sick eating from there (I have Coeliac's and the tiniest amount of cross contaminated gluten and I get really sick).

She mentioned wanting it big and baggy but at first we didn't realise she wanted it for her son rather than herself. We showed her a couple of designs but she just wanted a plain jumper with a kangaroo pocket on the front and a hood.

Photo of Ruth wearing the knitted jumper, taken front on with the hood up. You can see the kangaroo pocket on the front

Ruth ended up mashing together about 3 patterns and made some stuff up as she went. I tacked on the sleeves once they were knit up and we found that they were ridiculously long. Not sure how that happened as she was mostly working from the Central Park Hoodie pattern for the sleeves, just leaving off the cables. I can see how that could mean that the sleeves would be too wide but too long? We weren't happy with the shape at the top of the sleeves either. I couldn't get it to attach neatly. Ruth ripped back to the start of the decreases and we decided to just decrease on every row. It worked great.

Photo of Ruth wearing the knitted jumper. Taken from behind with the hood up
The funny lump there in the hood is just because Ruth had her hair bunned up.

I tacked it all together again and we took it in to Bathurst so we could check the size. This was when we found out that it wasn't for Georgie but for her son. Who is very tall. The shoulders and arms fitted perfectly though so that was good.

We took it home, I undid all the seems and Ruth ripped the body pieces back to just before the decreases for the sleeves, added another 6 inches and then did the decreases.

I sewed it all together properly this time and wove all the ends in. Boy it is heavy and my shoulders are dodgy. It was knit with two strands of 8ply (DK weight) Luxury from Bendigo Woolen Mills in Cork Brown. 100% Wool and incredibly warm. Should be fantastic this winter. It regularly gets down to -6c at night here in Hill End. I don't think it gets quite that cold in Bathurst but they'll certainly have more use for such a warm jumper there than you would in Sydney.

Ruth wearing the knitted jumper taken from side on with the hood up

With the extra 6 inches it fit really well. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of it on the person it was made for. As usual these photos were taken just before we drove in to Bathurst to deliver the jumper. As an amateur photographer I'm never happy with the rushed photos. I really should factor in more time to take some decent product photos before sending things off.

If you're interested in commissioning a knitted jumper or jacket email us at about pricing. Because of the weight the postage would be a fair bit so if you're not in Australia and you're not prepared to pay quite a lot on postage you might be better off finding someone local.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Finshed projects: Part One, the embroidered jacket

Once again health got in the way of keeping this updated. We've also been really busy with commissions and birthday presents. It's time to start posting some of the projects we've finished in the past month or so.


My big project for a while has been an embroidered jacket for our friend's birthday. I got a black hoodie from K-Mart and embroidered wings on the back. I picked this design from Urban Threads as my friend loves butterflies. I love the design, it's really pretty.

This was my first time embroidering on clothing and on fabric that was stretchy. I bought some dissolveable  stabiliser. It was a fairly open design without any large areas of solid stitching and as I was hand stitching it rather than machine stitching (one day I may own an embroidery machine but it will have to be when we've moved somewhere bigger, there's not even enough room for a printer here) I figured that dissolveable stabiliser would be enough.

The jacket was black so it was much easier to draw the design on to the stabiliser so I attached the stabiliser on to the outside of the jacket rather than the inside. The dissolveable stabiliser doesn't fuse on with heat so I pined it down and then tacked it on with thread. Getting the stabiliser to stay in the right place and getting the design centred was probably the hardest part of the project.

Once I had the stabiliser in place I used baking paper to trace the pattern off my netbook. It wouldn't all fit on the screen at the size I wanted it so I drew the part that was on the screen, moved the paper up and traced the rest of it. If you turn the brightness up as far as it will go and press really lightly with a soft pencil this is a great way to transfer designs.


With the design drawn on paper I slipped the paper underneath the stabiliser and got Ruth to put the jacket on so I could make sure I got the wings in the right place. Once I did, I just traced the design on to the stabiliser. Then it was just a matter of choosing my colours, hooping it up and stitching it.


I didn't have a sharp needle that would fit all 6 strands of thread through the eye so I stitched 3 strands in a purple. This didn't show up as much as I'd have liked it to against the black so I added a darker blue and an aqua. I wanted a really bright teal but couldn't find one.

Here is the design mostly stitched in one colour. It showed up great against the white of the stabiliser but not so great against the black of the jacket.

I tried adding a metallic silver thread but it was really difficult to work with and didn't look as good as I wanted it to.

Here you can see the silver down the bottom left corner of the design. I wasn't happy with the way it looked as a highlight colour and I didn't have anywhere near enough to stitch the whole design with it.

If I did this again I'd probably find a colour that stood out well against the black on it's own. I love the look of the three different colours but it took so long. I had to stitch the whole design three times.

Purple, Royal Blue and an Aqua DMC Cotton against the stabiliser.

Once I had finished stitching the design I cut away all the excess stabiliser as my test piece had shown that although the stabiliser dissolves completely it leaves the fabric stiff like starch. I wanted to cut out the bits between the lines of stitching too but with the scissors I had it would have been too easy to cut the fabric so it just wasn't worth it.

Here's the jacket with the excess stabiliser cut away.

Next I just chucked the jacket in the washing machine on delicate with some towels. There were some glue like marks left on the jacket after the first wash. I don't know if washing it on a normal cycle would get rid of more on the first go, if I should have used washing detergent rather than just soap nuts or if it just needs two washes. 

I didn't have time to wash it a second time before posting it but I gave instructions to my friend that the marks should come off after another wash. The stitching held up fine in the washing machine so I was happy about that.

Here's the jacket hanging upside down on the line to dry. I'd lost my card reader for the camera so these are mainly phone photos. The jacket is actually black, not grey and it dried without all those wrinkles.

I definitely stitch better with a hoop than just trying to hold the jacket by hand. I have a lot of issues with my hands, they often shake, they sometimes spasm, I get a lot of pain in them and I can sublax or dislocate the joints in my fingers easily so I have to be careful how I stitch but this was an enjoyable project and I'm very happy with how it turned out. I have about 3 other jackets planned for me now. I'd be happy to take commissions for embroidered jackets but it takes so long and is a lot of work so they jackets would cost between $85 and $100 depending on the complexity of the design.

Close up of the stitches


Next month I'll be visiting my friend and I will get some finished photos of someone wearing the jacket in decent light with my proper camera. I just ran out of time.

I ended up using 3 skeins of each colour cotton DMC thread, half a metre of stabiliser and it took just over a week of stitching each evening to finish it. 
Given that this was my first on clothing and my first time working from someone else's design I'm very happy with it. There are so many Urban Threads designs I'd love to do. I have a dark blue jacket that is going to get a TARDIS design on it and another black one that I want to stitch the firebird design on and a grey one that I want a tree on the back, maybe this one. I'd also love to do some Streampunk jackets and sew up and embroider a whole bunch of re-usable shopping bags.

Coming Soon: In a couple of days I'll have a post up about the knitted hoodie commission we finished and one about the hats and gloves we've been busy knitting. As soon as my recipient receives the embroidery I posted I will also have a post about the Blinded by Science Phat Quarter Needlework Swap and the absolutely amazing embroidery I received.
I also have a couple of posts about amazing local food and buying direct from the farmers and some recipes we've been making with that awesome local food.

What have you been up to lately craft wise?