Thursday, 27 March 2008

bunnikin's picnic party

"... is a descriptive verse story about Bunnikin and his brothers and sisters spending a happy day in the woods. Time is forgotten until baby bunny wanders away; but all ends well and the weary little troop wends its way home in the fading light."

Hmm, I'm fading too - it's after 11:00pm and time for bed. These illustrations are by A. J. Macgregor and I don't have a date for the book but it cost 2'6 so I think that it's safe to say that it's pre-1980.

This is the fourth of my week's worth of vintage children's book illustrations. I've got two more lined up - sigh - perhaps it will be a short week.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


Voila - I made something!

Ella is one of baby bear's best friends and her mother is a lovely friend of mine. When she heard that I was interested in recycling old clothes and jumpers into new children's clothes, she gave me the softest grey rib jumper to play around with. It had been worn by her mother and her older sister and was in tatters around the cuffs and seams, which was fine because I was able to cut the cardigan pieces out in between the holes! It took a bit of trickery and one of the sleeves had to be cut out in two pieces.

I used my machine to sew the garment pieces and overlocked the exposed raw edges. The edge trim and internal ties are
bias tape that I made using my very handy little Clover bias tape maker. The fabric is from a dress that I bought some months ago at the Sacred Heart Mission op shop near me. I had (good) suspicions and they were confirmed at the Stitches and Craft Show a couple of weeks ago by the company's representative in Australia - yes, indeed, it is a Liberty print.

The "pattern" is one that I just eyeballed using one of baby bear's cardigans as a guide. Given the asymmetrical, slightly Japanese feel of the garment, I thought that it wouldn't matter too much is it was a little boxy.

The button, I admit, is new and came from The Button Shop in Malvern. The buttonhole is my first ever.

And the finished garment? I'm giving it back to my friend for her little girl to wear.

This is one of the items that I presented as part of my refashion display at the Stitches and Craft Show. I can hardly believe that it was two weeks ago already. There were a number of contemporary 'indie crafters' there showcasing their wares - amongst others were Angela from Sew Your Own, Kristin Doran, Fiona from Dear Fii, a quick appearance from greenolive and the very lovely Jenny from Amitié. Jenny was great company and I was so impressed by her approach to customers and patchworking - open, caring, make your own rules. If you want to do any piecing or quilting I recommend an imminent visit to Bentleigh.

I'm not sure how well the refashion concept was received. I did get many compliments on the cardigan and many commented "Oh, we used to do that back when ..." but generally they didn't seem to be interested in doing it now. The preference seemed to be for pre-packaged 'it's oh so simple' kits and 'just peel the backing off and stick it down' scrapbooking. In the past I'm sure that people unravelled and reknit jumpers and saved fabric scraps and altered garments because they couldn't afford not to. I believe that environmentally we still can't afford not to.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


Alas, I think that Pip's week of vintage children's book illustration is over. I still have some more pictures to show though, so perhaps I'll make it a week's worth of vintage children's book illustrations spread out over however long it takes me ...

As a child, I really liked this book, Allumette (ISBN 0590078453) by Tommy Ungerer from 1974, but now that I look at it again the illustrations actually appear to be quite gruesome.

Friday, 21 March 2008

jip en janneke

These 1964 illustrations are taken from the book Oe! Een koe! (ISBN 904510219-6) which translates as Ooh! A cow! (but I think that Wow! A cow! retains the spirit of the original title). The author is Annie M. G. Schmidt and the illustrations are by Fiep Westendorp.

Jip and Janneke (the boy and girl respectively) are two little scallywags and a Dutch children's classic.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

the black pencil

"The Black Pencil was long and slim and new. He was owned by a schoolchild with whom he learnt to write and draw pictures. Then he had many jobs until eventually he 'grew' too short and was put away in a drawer.

There he met a blue pencil and a yellow pencil and together they had an amazing adventure."

The Black Pencil by Marcello Minale, 1968.

It's the Week of Vintage Children's Book Illustration over at Meet me at Mikes.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

pear tree

It has been a busy few days for me at the Stitches and Craft show, courtesy of the team at Living Creatively. Thank you very much for having me.

There is much to show and tell and I hope to get around to it in the next few days (ok, weeks) but I do just want to mention Pear Tree Products which is a new name to me. They were at the show displaying their yarn, which they have a separate site for, but they also produce bed and table linen and a range of cards (including this lovely image above). Look at the website to see the animated version.

But on to the important stuff - the wool. They have a small but comprehensive range of yarns, everything from 2 ply (lace weight) to 12 ply (worsted weight). And the colours are really beautiful, particularly the oishi-merino which is
inspired by a range of 1920s vintage kimono fabrics. Imagine a lace shawl in vintage kimono colours - delicious indeed. They have a couple of local and online stockists and heaps in the US, including Purl Soho. I believe that you can also contact them to receive a catalogue.

I do like their little spiel: "Knitting is peaceful, creative , environmentally friendly, useful and above all therapeutic." I do so agree, which is why I am planning, despite all new year's resolutions to the contrary, to cast on for another pair of socks. No, I haven't even finished the other pair yet although it's just the grafting and ends to weave in. I need to have something on the needles, I need that therapeutic click click click.

Monday, 10 March 2008


Oink! Yes, today I am a pig in Clover.

A few months after I finished high school, when I was 18, I went off to Japan on a
working holiday visa for nine months. It was, well, a disaster. My first host family unceremoniously got rid of me by telling me "tomorrow you're moving out" (they did organise somewhere for me to go), my first job was as a curiosity at an English language school in Nagoya and surrounds, my second job was at the baseball stadium in Tokyo with a bunch of ex-US marines who subjected me to sexual harassment and at 175cm tall with blue eyes and light brown hair, you know, I never did quite fit in. And now I find myself wishing that I could go back, even just for a quick trip or stopover.

This is all, of course, a result of the influx of Japanese craft books and products onto the Australian (and international I guess) craft scene. When I was 18 I was, sadly, not a crafty girl and I wonder now what an incredible jump I could have got on the market by discovering that whole world earlier. Perhaps the craft phenomenon in Japan too is only recent - does anyone know? Anyway, I would love now to return to Shibuya Loft or Tokyu Hands and scour their craft sections. I'm not into Japanese cute (at all) but I do like the shapes and ideas in the craft books and the nifty gadgets and accessories. Knowing me though, I would probably be totally overwhelmed and walk out with no purchases and an empty feeling.

So, in the meantime I'll content myself with the very manageable display of Clover products at my local Spotlight store. They had 20% off everything today (sorry, at 10:39pm that news comes a bit late) and I bought these great patchwork pins, fine with a heat resistant glass head.

Just to finish, three wonderful things about Japan:
- Hiroshima Museum of Art where one of my all-time favourite Picasso prints of two people drinking at a bar resides
- Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art - (great animation on the website) I saw an exhibition of David Hockney's stage designs for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress there which made such an impression that I went to see the opera when it was in Melbourne a couple of years ago; and a huge Henry Moore sculpture, just beautiful
- Muji - the store's full name means 'no brand quality goods' and they are

Thursday, 6 March 2008

vol 5

In introducing the Golden Hands: the complete knitting, dressmaking and needlecraft guide, I have done my best to pick out projects and photos that might appeal to the current crafting generation, things that I may possibly like to make or try in a different colourway, invaluable basic how-to lessons. I feel that I have misrepresented the series. In fact, a lot of stuff in there is really quite awful:

Somehow I just can't imagine being motivated to start on any of these projects, no matter how much yarn or colour substitution I might do. I do like the cover though, that sewing machine looks like it may have come off the Titanic. When I was little I thought that the woman on the cover looked enough like my mum to actually be my mum, even though I knew that she wasn't. Funny how you can do that when you're a kid - know one thing but choose to believe another.

Anyway, the craft update - recycled tree jumper, no progress; secret present socks, no progress; Jeremy, no progress; baby ballerina, oh don't even ask. I have been really busy though, mostly with sewing using recycled materials. And next week I'm having a launch (of sorts). Yes, I will be launching myself out of the datasphere and into the real world at the Stitches and Craft show, courtesy of the Living Creatively people. I'll be there to talk about op shopping and crafting using recycled materials. I'll have a few creations there to show people, including the baby bobble jacket, and a whole heap of yarns and fabrics that represent my ever-expanding list of best intentions. I should update the sidebar over there but I'm a mite scared of what its final dimensions may be. I'll also be showing how to unpick and unravel an op shop-purchased jumper in order to make it into something new.

So, if you're in Melbourne next week(end) and feel like a fibre/fabric/paper/thread etc overload, I'll be there on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the morning. I'm sure that it would be lovely to meet you.

Sunday, 2 March 2008


More about me (gosh these posts are easy to write!). I am persistent. And resourceful. And when I get a bee in my bonnet, no, not even a bee, just a slight buzz, I am like a dog with a bone. Too many mixed animal metaphors there but you get my drift. Just at the end of last year I declared that I wouldn't be wearing a mob cap in 2008 (well, fair enough) but I am still curious about this country girl who is.

I couldn't find any further reference on the internet to the painting -
a family portrait by Francis Wheatley - on the cover of the Penguin Classic edition of Amelia. Never one to be deterred I consulted the Libraries Australia website which lets you search all of the library catalogues in Australia (university libraries, local libraries, state libraries) and found the aptly titled Francis Wheatley by Mary Webster published back in 1970. It turns out that the painting in question is one of four:

Here called 'The Happy Fireside - Married Life' instead of 'Life of a Country Girl - Married Life'. And who may the Viscount Bearsted be? Some bloke who lives in Maidstone, Kent. I wonder if he accepts visitors - what I want now is to have a look at them.