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November 2010
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January 2011

December 2010

Happy New Year!

Look what I stumbled across... how fitting!

Vintage postcard 
Back of vintage postcard 
It is postmarked Dec. 18th, 1910, so almost exactly 100 years ago!

This little postcard has led me down the path of some research. I have found many, many early 1900's New Years' postcards featuring posies and sprays of violets. All afternoon, I have "googled" and "wikied", but am still unable to find the significance of violets for New Years.

I have found a few relevent facts...

- Folklore says that the violet indicates a love that is delicate.

( so a romantic New Years sentiment...ok I get that )

- In dreams, violets are said to be a positive symbol. Again, according to folklore, dreaming of violets is said to mean that fortune is coming your way.

( Yep. Good luck for the coming year... perfectly logical )

But, for New Years... I think this one is the most applicable.

- Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher states that a garland of violets worn about the head will dispel the fumes of wine and prevent headache and dizziness!!!

So... wishing you all a romantic, fortunate and hangover free 2011 !

Happy New Year 2011 One Day In May 
Seriously, wishing you a wonderful 2011. May all good things come to you, those that you dream of and those that you couldn't possibly imagine.

Happy New Year,

Melissa  x

 

Stitching hijinks...

I thought I would show you a little snippet of what I've been making with the "blues" I showed you back in November. Remember these?

Blues 
Well, I'm quite taken with Art nouveau at the moment... all those swirling, free form flowers, leaves and stems. Gorgeous stuff. I enjoy playing with motif manipulation and repetition too, so I'm kind of combining the two. There has been loads of cutouts for the flowers and leaves... tiny scissors required for these.

Playing with blue cutouts 
These have all been appliqued over Christmas...

Playing with blue applique and stems 
... and, after a bit of stitching, contemplation, unpicking and restitching... I think I've decided on a stitchery combination for the swirly stems.

Playing with blue stitching 
It's been lovely, being able to sit and stitch over the past few days. I have really missed taking these quiet moments that seem to have eluded me right through December. Curling up in front of a good documentary, needle in hand, coffee close by... sounds relaxing right? The thing is, my little gray Selkirk-Rex and I are in the midst of a rather long-winded battle. I think the Christmas tree is quite defined in its purpose... sitting in the corner, showing off it's collection of Christmas attire, twinkling of an evening, adding that Christmassy atmosphere... you know how it goes. BUT NO! Not in the eyes of this little cat! (Here she is enjoying a bag we had removed Christmas decorations from. I think there still may be one or two beneath her!)

Evie 
Did I mention her name is Evie (short for evil)? ... those eyes say it all. You can see her planning her decoration hijack and general hijinks, while she hides. This is what she conveyed to me through her persistent behaviour, cheeky peeks from beneath the tree and angry glares when I locked her away.

 A Christmas tree is like a toy shop. Decorations are ripe for the picking (or swiping) and are just begging to be chased (or dragged) from one end of the house to the other! I do try to resist, sometimes I'm just worn out from all the swiping and chasing you know. But then suddenly, the sun will appear from behind a cloud, and cause a little sparkle on a particular decoration that catches my eye, and pounce, I'm sucked right back in!

So, as you might guess, my stitching hasn't been particularly relaxing... in fact I've had quite a work out, retrieving decorations, chasing the trail of tinsel tearing through the house, trying to remove the little terror from beneath the tree... and just as I find my place and am ready to take a stitch... well you get the picture.

Evie under the tree 
Oh and tinsel? Tinsel is delicious! You can chew it off into bite sized pieces and then leave them all through the house. It's called decorating!

Needless to say the tree will be disassembled on time this year, so I can finish the remainder of my swirly stem stitching, and then onto the... actually I think I'll leave you in suspense.

 Happy New Year everyone... and may all your New Year's resolutions involve stitching.

Until then,

Melissa x

 

Knee deep in gingerbread...

It's been very busy on the home front this past month, and I really was beginning to doubt whether or not the Christmas tree would make it out of the cupboard, let alone be decorated. But somehow, we all managed to be at home, at the same time as each other, and the Christmas tree was finally brought out and spruced. 

As last minute as it all feels, I love being creative in one way or another around Christmas. I particularly like dreaming up and making Christmas decorations each year. These paper nativity decorations were made for my teenagers(now 15 and 18), way back when they were little.

Paper Nativity 
I love to create from new ideas. This year, however, I am willing to settle for some old favourites. My daughter and I thought we'd make a gingerbread Christmas tree... well it was going to be 'A' Christmas tree, but before we knew it, the plan had grown from 1 to several for family and friends.

We started with a recipe from here, quadrupled in quantity, and some "paper star cut-outs" of various sizes, created on the PC.

Gingerbread Christmas tree 1 
We combined some scrummy ingredients including treacle and brown sugar...

Gingerbread Christmas tree 2 

... and ended up with a huge quantity of dough, from which we cut out many, many stars.
Gingerbread Christmas tree 3 

They puffed up beautifully in the oven, resulting in a crisp shell with a lovely cake-like centre. It will be interesting to see how the gingerbread ages over the next few days. These are the baked stars for the largest of our trees.

Gingerbread Christmas tree 5 

After some contemplation, we decided to mix up a very stiff version of the icing, to cement the stars together. The little star on the top was decorated before the assembly, so we could cement it, completed, to the top.

 I must say, we still had a little "sliding" verging on "toppling" occuring. So I would recommend cementing a few layers at a time, allowing the icing to set a little, before adding the whole weight of gingerbread to the tree. After a worrying period of "tree stabilisiation", it all came together OK.

Gingerbread Christmas tree 6

We bought quite a selection of "Christmas sprinkles" to decorate with, but felt simple was best and decided on drizzled white icing with silver and green cachous.

 Gingerbread Christmas tree 8 
  
This is what the kitchen looked like once we finished... think I'll let you create your own visions of icing dribbles, wafts of flour dust and general treacly stickiness.

Gingerbread Christmas tree 10 
 
As the kids get older, I'm finding it more difficult to entice them into joint activities. I've been longing for when they were little, wanting to be a part of whatever I happened to be doing. So it was wonderful being able to bake together, chatting and making a mess. I did suggest Christmas carols at one stage... but that was pushing it! I may yet make them endure some Christmassy tunes on the 2 hour car trip to Christmas dinner, when I am in control of the sound system.

On the "One Day In May" front, I have completed the writing of my first 2 patterns... very exciting. They are just going through a final edit with my distributor now and will be released in January. I am very much looking forward to a very creative 2011... can't wait.

Thank you all for welcoming me back into the craft industry and "blogland". I am thorougly enjoying myself and am what you might describe as "in my element". 

I wish you a wonderful Christmas day and holiday season, filled with family, joy and all the traditions that are special to you.

Merry Christmas,

 Melissa  x

Christmas past...

I hate to admit it publicly, but I seem to have mislaid my Christmas spirit! So, I've been on the hunt today, rummaging through boxes of photos for memories of Christmas past.

Of course, my fondest Christmas memories are of family, particularly travelling to Grandma and Grandpa's for the big family get together. But today, I'd like to share some Christmas experiences I had while living in Germany, at the age of 15. I lived in the most northern part of "West Germany", with a family that I used to refer to as "Greenies"... these days, and looking back on the photos, I would call them "organic". The year I spent with them was a little alternative, compared to my Australian life. But life there was filled to the brim with family tradition and all things hand-created... particularly throughout Advent and Christmas.

Now these photos are 25 years old and taken on the cheapest camera that ever existed!! I've adjusted the contrast and other "technical photo things" as much as I could... so maybe if you squint, 'til your vision blurs a little, you can pretend they are crisp in detail and vivid in colour... : )

Christmas time in Germany means baking time. The house was filled with the aroma of warm, nutty biscuits. I remember the dominance of almonds in most biscuit recipes. These ones were heart shaped, with a crunchy almond base and topped with a soft meringue. Yum. Ever the perfectionist, the challenge was being consistent with biscuit shape and form... check out that concentration!

One Day In May Christmas Past5 

Schwarz-weiss-gebaek

 

 

Schwarz-Weiß-Gebäck, were my favourite to bake...a hard to resist checkerboard of rich chocolate and vanilla bean.

 

 

 Up until this point, I don't think I had encountered an advent wreath... and now, I'm not sure that any other would compare to this enormous one!One Day In May Christmas Past 3 
You can see by the size of my host mother's hands, just how big it is. Each December it grows a little larger, as she covers the dead foliage of the previous year, with a fresh layer of pine twigs. It is hung from the rafters by wire, hidden behind the ribbon.

This photo was very dark to begin with, but I think you can just make out the pine twigs on the floor. The twigs are secured with twine. The following spring, little birds nested in the wreath, while it hung on the wall of the garden shed.One Day In May Christmas Past 4
I've just had a close look... I can see one of the many cross-stitch kits I completed that year, next to me in the chair. Advent was very "cross-stitch" flavoured for me. I stitched endlessly. Here I am stitching another... a simple, single-toned design, stitched on linen... one of my very favourites.One Day In May Christmas Past 2
It is a design by Gerda Bengtsson for Danish company, Haandarbejdets-Fremme. It's still available here, 25 years on!

This last photo actually shows me way up on a ladder, lighting the candles on an 11ft Christmas tree.  My host father had to secure it to the rafters to prevent it from toppling! We chose it from a Christmas tree farm, where we encountered a very large stag... a bit of a surprise for an Australian girl.

 One Day In May Christmas Past 1 

The decorations, as you can see are all very traditional and mostly handmade. A very simple display, but the flicker of candlelight on an 11 foot tree, is a festive vision that I will never forget.

Thank you for indulging my visit to a Christmas past. I can feel that Christmas spirit rekindling and can almost smell those little checkerboards as they cool from the oven...mmmm.

Wishing you the blessing of joy this Advent,

Melissa  x

 

 

Hidden treasure...

Last week, Andrew and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! After many weeks of being unable to decide on how to spend the day.... we went shopping!

Actually, we spent a wonderful day together, wandering through the arcades of inner city Melbourne. There are little galleries, book shops, gorgeous jewellers (some featuring Melbourne artists) and many, many scrumptious lunch options to choose from. We even visited the crafty/girly shops.  Aren't I lucky?

Look what I found.

L'uccello vintage haberdashery purchases

L'uccello  is a vintage haberdashery store in the Nicholas Building, Swanston Street, Melbourne... and it's amazing. There, you will find every vintage notion you could imagine... spools, ribbon, lace, little packets of press-studs, hooks-and-eyes, buttons... anything that you would have found in your Nan's sewing box and much, much more. If I hadn't have been so overwhelmed, I might have remembered to get my camera out.

Kim was a delight to speak with. She has lots of stories to tell, about the origins of particular pieces and the people she meets while sourcing all of these treasures. The large spool above is made of oak, has a copper trim and is wound with a beautiful pink silk... gorgeous. I love the little glass jars too... perfect for storing beads or displaying a tiny spray of wild flowers.

Check out Kim's "swap-card" business cards and vintage packaging. They gave me a little "I remember when" moment.

L'uccello vintage haberdashery 
We also discovered Tessuti. Tessuti are in Flinders Lane and have a fantastic range of high quality, fashionable fabrics to create a hand-sewn wardrobe. There are a range of beautiful patterns available from across the world, Liberty prints, designer fabrics and any notion you could possibly need. The gorgeous range of childrens' clothing patterns (I think they were Japanese) and fabric left me with the sudden need to have more children!  If you like to sew your own clothes, it's a treasure trove!

 Tessuti2 
The photo quality isn't great, as they were taken on my phone, but I had to share! Can you see the "curtain" of tapemeasures, dividing the office space from the shop? What a perfect idea... love it.

Tessuti1 
 After loading up with cream ric-rac in various sizes, I found some treasure on the remnants table. I hope to make some scarves from this for Christmas presents. Think I might be pushed to get them done in time... we'll see.

Tessuti3 
We didn't only look at crafty/girly shops, I promise. Oh and we did decide on a magnificent lunch at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade.... and cake : ) All in all, a wonderful day.

Until next time,

Melissa x

A little excited...

... quite a big bit excited actually!

As those of you who read my facebook page would know, this week I have been on the receiving end of some very exciting news. "One Day In May" now has a distributor. Yaaaay! What's more, my first two patterns will be available for stores to purchase before Christmas! Wish I could tell you more. As soon as I am able I will post all the details as well as a list of stockists.

So, I've already shown you "Waterlily Dreaming Needle Keep". Here is my 2nd pattern... "Waterlily Dreaming Brooch." Almost everyone who has seen the needle keep has said, "Oooo that would make a lovely brooch" ... so here it is. It will be a smaller pattern, just a little A6 one. Great as a little card insert for a crafty friends birthday.

Waterlily Dreaming Brooch watermarked 
Its a simple little pattern, using just 2 fabrics, half a packet of seed beads and a brooch back. I love how the beads bring a tiny bit of sparkle that draws your eye to the centre.

Waterlily Dreaming Brooch watermarked2 
I am so looking forward to seeing the combinations of fabric and beads that all you crafty ladies come up with! The above brooch is made in salmon pink, but think of all the different pinks there are...

Fabric choices for Waterlily Dreaming Brooch 
Mum tells me there are beautiful lilac waterlilies in Queensland.  I think I've seen a photo of red ones too. The possibilities are deliciously endless!

I've also been stitching away on my "murky blue" project... more pics soon.

Until next time,

Melissa  x