Sunday, 3 September 2017

Grown Up Gardens & Baby Gardens

Now we are getting little glimpses of Spring, I have been hankering to get my gardening gloves on. Since Bear and I moved in together in July, I've been longing to get started in our first ever 'Garden That We Can Put Real Plants and Trees In'.  Because this Garden is not a rental that you can only plant a few vegies and annuals in. A real garden of our very own that we can landscape which I'm super excited about!

For a teensy bit of inspiration, I went for a walk around nearby Werribee Park.

I had never seen a yellow flowering butterfly bush. Always purple. Doesn't it look glorious? And the nectar smelled delicious!

The kids loved running around the lawns.

I always thought Radiata Pines were the rudest trees.

Every single branch is giving me the bird.

Fortunately I'm not easily offended, so we continued around through the arboretum.  I just love all these huge trees.

These Camellia were glorious. They reminded me how much I wanted to plant camellias in our garden.

All this walking was making me thirsty.

The boys and I indulged in hot chocolates (cappuccino for me) and an assortment of little Danish pastries.

Now owned and managed by Parks Victoria, there are still some of the original glasshouses left. 


After our sun soaked jaunt around the mansion, I had some inspiration. My little garden is way too small for such large plantings, but seeing the camellias was one of those ZING moments where I said to myself, "OMG YES! I gots to get me some of those!"

Some more Spring-ness was to be found at Sonofagun No 2's school.

Here is Sonofagun No.2 dressed up as Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid for the Book Week Parade.

The school has some gorgeous flower and vegie gardens as well as heaps of fruit trees which are in bloom.

Like this nectarine tree.  The kids work on the gardens.

Check out all this broccoli! I actually took this photo to show Bear as he planted one little broccoli plant in our vegie garden. I think we need more like this! 

So here I am in my own little patch ready for action.

We planted 2 cherry tomato plants against a large trellis.  One produces red cherry tomatoes, the other produces orange cherry tomatoes!

My sweet peas which I planted in April are now shooting up quickly.

And in edible pea news, we also have sugar snap peas which are already showing signs of wanting to flower.

 These potatoes were given to us by one of our lovely neighbours.

In this patch under the olive tree, are strawberries and rainbow spinach.

We bought some premium mix, mulch and a modest selection of plants from the garden centre to start. 
Such as this little pot of pink violets. PINK VIOLETS!! I love violets!  There were some white violets growing in the front yard as well. Bear has been given strict instructions to not pull them up!

This bird bath was a present from the Mothership and Fatherdom a few years ago. Bear found a solar powered mini fountain hiding in his garage.

We call this little installation the Bellagio.

The Mariposa Plum was a gift from a friend last Christmas. The poor thing has been stuck in a pot until now. I think it was so happy to find its' feet in soil it flowered with joy. Or relief.

I sowed some dahlia and cucumber seeds which popped up in just 1 week!

I have this nifty ikea glasshouse shelf in which I have been growing fig tree and begonia cuttings, ferns, dahlia, cucumber and sunflower seeds. It's in a nice bright spot in the back living area and everything is going crazy in there.

My beautiful friend Robby gave me this gorgeous Camellia x williamsii E.G. Waterhouse.  I planted  it in the front yard today. The flowers are going to be exquisite!

Unfortunately after all the wonderful planting and growing, one plant had to meet its' maker AKA the mulch machine.

A medium sized gum in the front yard was subject to what Bear calls '4WD gardening' as the whole tree had a serious 45 degree lean towards the house. If it grew bigger, a big wind would end up blowing it over onto the house.

Can you see my tiny little Camellia planted in front of the white pillar? Fortunately this side of the house is mostly shady as it is south facing so it won't get too hot in summer.

Now I just need to find a suitable replacement. I'm inclined to go hard or go home. A mother-truckin massive Elm or Oak tree. Unfortunately that may take too long.

Perhaps stay true to the local environment and get another eucalypt or a snazzy orange blossomed Corymbia. Do you have any recommendations? I'd love a medium large tree wide a generous canopy that grows quickly. Any ideas?

And in 9 days I finally travel overseas on my little trip. I haven't been OS in about 14 years.  I'm nervous and excited and won't believe it's happening until I land and see all the big amazing things I've only ever seen on the tv in this faraway place.

The Red Haired Amazona

Monday, 21 August 2017

Twinkle Star Hand Mitts

A few years ago I crocheted myself a pair of these snug hand mitts designed by Lucy from Attic 24.

As you can tell, they've had a lot of use!

It was a super easy pattern and there are LOADS of variations out there in the interwebs.

Then recently a hole appeared.

I was totes devo* (as the youth of today say).

*totally devastated, inconsolable, grief stricken, my heart had broken into a million pieces

I was about to make another pair the same. I loved them. They were warm, but left my fingers free to handle keys, type sms, pick my nose and all the other things you need fingers for.

Yes, I do complain about the cold but it doesn't get super dooper freezing down here in Melbourne. So I don't need to hide my little typing, handling, picking fingers in chunky gloves.

And you know me. I get a little creative, experimental, sometimes psycho. But this time just the first two.

So here just for you is yet another scrumdiddiliumptious FREE tutorial for my latest pair of mitts!

Would you like to make some? Awesome!

So let's get started!

For this pair, I have chosen Peacock inspired colours of purples, blues and teals, with a splash of pink and silver.  But you can choose to use any colour combo you like such as the pinky, blue ones in the photo above.

What will you need?

* a combination of 8ply cotton yarns in the colours listed in the chart below, or your own choices.  The silver thread will probably be acrylic.

Colour A


Colour B

Hot Pink

Colour C

Mid Pink

Colour D


Colour E


Colour F


Colour G


Colour H

Navy Blue

* a 4mm crochet hook
* a 3.5mm crochet hook
* scissors
* a darning needle

Stitch Abbreviations
(U.S. Crochet terms are used)   




Double crochet


Finish off


Half double crochet


long half double crochet


Single crochet






Slip stitch



For this pattern, we will be working strictly right to left. At the end of each row, after you finish off a colour, DO NOT TURN!!!  You join the new colour back at the beginning of the previous row.
This creates a definite 'front' and 'back' side to your fabric. 

This applies for all rows EXCEPT THE STAR STITCH ROWS. (Sorry, didn't mean to yell in All Caps!)
For the Star Stitch rows only, we will turn and work on the wrong side of the fabric.

Let's get started!

Generally I create a starting chain in groups of 6 + 3. So for my mitt below, I crocheted a starting chain of 39 {6 x 6 + 3}.

To make one a little wider, you could crochet a starting chain of 6 x 7 + 3 = 45.
To make one a little narrower, you could crochet a starting chain of 6 x 5 + 3 = 33
This simply ensures the shell rows and star stitch rows all work out nicely. If you wish to deviate from this stitch count, then adjust your pattern accordingly.

Starting Chain: Take your 4mm hook, and crochet a starting chain of 39 stitches.
Do not finish off. SWITCH TO THE 3.5mm HOOK!
Crochet hand mitts
The Starting Chain
Row 1: Starting from the 3rd ch from the hook, sc in each stitch across. FO. [37sc] 
Crochet hand mitts
Row 1


Row 2: Join Colour B. Ch 1, sc in same st, *(sk 2 st, 5dc in next st, sk 2 st, sc in next st).
Repeat from * to the end. FO. [6 shells, 7 sc = 37st]

Crochet hand mitts
Row 2

Row 3: Join Colour C. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), then 2 dc in base of beg ch3. Sk 2 st, sc in 3rd dc of Row 2 Shell (middle dc of shell), *(sk 2 st, 5dc in sc of previous row, sk 2 st, sc in next st which is the middle st of R2 shell).
Repeat from * 6 times, then sk 2 st, 3dc in last st. FO. [5 shells, 2 x 1/2 shells, 6sc = 37 st]

Crochet hand mitts
Row 3
Row 4: Join Colour D. Ch1, sc in same st. *(Ch1, sk next st, sc in next st).
Repeat from * to the end. Sc in last st. FO. [19sc, 18ch = 37st]

Crochet hand mitts
Row 4
Row 5: Join Colour E. Ch1, sc in same st. *(Sc in Ch1 sp, ch1, sk next st). Repeat from * to the last Ch1 sp, then also sc in last st. FO. [20 sc, 17 ch = 37st]

crochet hand mitts
Row 5
Row 6: Join Colour F. Repeat Row 4. FO.

crochet hand mitts
Beginning of Row 6
crochet hand warmers mitts gloves cotton
Row 6

crochet gloves mitts mittens hand warmers cotton
Deciding what colours go next...

Row 7: Join Colour D. Repeat Row 4. FO.

Crochet mitts gloves hand warmers mittens cotton
Row 7
Row 8: Join Colour G. Ch1, then in base of same stitch: Lhdc in the sc of R6 right between the 'posts' of the stitch, *(sc in next st, then in the Ch1 sp from row 7, crochet a lhdc down into the row 6 single crochet right between the posts. See photo below).
Repeat from * to the end, finishing with a Lhdc. FO. [19 lhdc, 18sc = 37st]

crochet hand warmers mittens mitts gloves cotton
Row 8: Close up of the long half double crochet stitch placed between the posts of the single crochet from Row 6

Spike stitch crochet hdc sc mitts gloves
Tah-dah! Not so hard is it!

spike stitch half double crochet hdc gloves mitts
And then the single crochet stitch in the next sc...
Row 9: Join Colour H. Repeat Row 2. FO.

fan stitch crochet gloves mitts
Row 9

Row 10: Join Colour F. Repeat Row 3. FO. 
fan stitch basic crochet cotton 8 ply mitts gloves
Row 10
*******The Star Stitch Rows*******
Rightio! Do you know how to crochet the Star Stitch? if you don't, you will shortly.
Remember how we have been working on one side of the fabric only? For these next star stitch rows, we will be turning and working the half double crochet rows on the back side of the fabric.
After you finished Row 10, join Colour 'A' AT THE END OF ROW 10, then turn to begin Row 11.
Row 11: Ch2 (counts as 1st hdc), then hdc in each st across. Turn. [37hdc]
star stitch marguerite crochet gloves mitts
Row 11: the 1st row of the star stitch
Let's walk step by glorious step to make our stars!

Row 12:
Step 1: Chain 3

star stitch tutorial marguerite stitch crochet gloves mitts hand warmers
Row 12  Step 1: let's take this a little at a time....

Step 2: Insert hook into the 2nd chain from the hook...

star stitch tutorial
Row 12: Step 2

Step 3: and pull up a loop.  You should now have 2 loops on the hook.
star stitch tutorial crochet hand mitts gloves
Row 12: Step 3
Step 4: Insert hook into the 3rd chain from the hook...

star stitch tutorial gloves crochet mitts
Row 12: Step 4
Step 5: and pull up a loop. You should now have 3 loops on the hook.

star stitch tutorial
Row 12: Step 5
Step 6: Insert hook into the 1st st of the previous row (at the base of the ch3) and pull up a loop. You should now have 4 loops on the hook.

Row 12: Step 6
Step 7: Insert hook into the 2nd st and pull up a loop. You should now have 5 loops on the hook.
Row 12: Step 7.
Step 8: Insert hook into the 3rd st and pull up a loop. You will now have 6 loops on the hook.
Row 12: Step 8. Woah! Look at all those loops!
Step 9: Yarn over, and pull through all 6 loops leaving 1 loop left on the hook.

star stitch tutorial marguerite stitch crochet mitt
Row 12: Half a star!
Step 10: Chain 1. This will make the 'eye' of the star.

star stitch tutorial
Row 12: See that little circle? That's the 'eye' of the star!
Step 11: Stick your hook into the 'eye' of the star which you just finished...

star stitch tutorial
Row 12: stick your hook right in his eye!!!

Step 12: and pull up a loop. You should now have 2 loops on the hook. 
Now look carefully for the spike!  See that last spike from the star you just finished? Look at the photo below...
Row 12: See that big arrow? Pointing at the 'spike'? That's the spike we mean!
Step 13: Insert the hook into that last spike...

Row 12: Inserting the hook...
Step 14: and pull up a loop. You should now have 3 loops on the hook.

star stitch tutorial
Row 12: You did it! Well, that small bit anyway...
Step 15: Insert the hook into the stitch at the base of that last spike. Then pull up a loop. 
You will now have 4 loops on the hook.

Row 12: 4 loops on the hook
Step 16: Insert hook into the next st and pull up a loop. You will now have 5 loops on the hook.

star stitch tutorial
Row 12: 5 loops

Step 17: Insert hook into next stitch and pull up a loop. You will now have 6 loops on the hook.

Step 18: Yarn over, and pull through all 6 loops leaving 1 loop left on the hook.

Step 19: Chain 1. This will make the 'eye' of the star.

Repeat Steps 11-19 for each little star all the way to the end.

For the very last star in the row, make sure you use the very last stitches including the turning chain from the previous row, and you should end up with 18 little half stars.

Remember we will be turning and working back along for the next row to finish the stars, so after the last star: turn!

Row 13: Ch2 (counts as 1st hdc), hdc in same st, then crochet 2 hdc in each 'eye' of the star of the previous row all the way to the end, finishing with 1 hdc in the last stitch. [37st]

Row 13: Working along the back side of the fabric, See how there's 2 hdcs in each eye?

Row 14: Repeat Row 12. [18 stars]

Row 15: Repeat Row 13 [37hdc]

Row 16: Repeat Row 12 [18 stars]

Row 17: Repeat Row 13 [37 hdc]

Row 18: Repeat Row 12 [18 stars]

Row 19: Repeat Row 13. FO. You will be finishing on the 'back' side of the work. Now turn over and we will continue to work on the 'front' side only from right to left.

Close up of the finished star stitch rows including the hdc rows.

Once you've finished Row 19, this is what the 'front side' of the work will look like.

star stitch back of work hand mitts
After you've finished Row 19, this is what the 'back side' of the work looks like. A bit weird and lumpy. Don't worry, it will all be hidden when we've finished.
Row 20: Join Colour F. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), then from the next st, dc in each st to the end. FO. [37 dc]

Row 20. Just dcs. Nothing crazy!
Row 21: Join Colour H. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), then dc in same st. Sk 2 st *(3dc in next st, sk 2 st).
Repeat from * to the end, then work just 2dc in last st. FO [37dc]

granny stitch row crochet hand warmers
Row 21 is just a granny stripe row
Row 22: Join Colour D. Ch1 (does not count as 1st st). Sc in same st and in each st across to the end. FO. [37 sc]

single crochet hand mitts warmers crochet silver
Row 22
Row 23: Join Colour C. Repeat Row 4. FO. [19sc, 18ch = 37st]

Row 24: Join Colour E. Repeat Row 5. FO. [20 sc, 17ch = 37st]

Row 25: Join Colour A. Repeat Row 4. FO. [ 19sc, 18ch = 37st]

Tah- dah!
 Now sew in your threads if you didn't do it along the way, and block if you're a blocker.
I did as the star stitch rows make things go a little wonky.  I just pinned it out and gave it a light spritz with a water spray bottle.

Once you're ready to sew them together, fold in half with front or 'right' sides together.

Then using either the main colour cotton, carefully hand stitch along where indicated below, leaving a gap for your thumb.

I usually leave the gap from the top of the star stitch rows to about 2-2.5 rows down. Then place a stitch marker to indicate where I'm going to start stitching again.

And that's one done!  Now make another!

The cotton is washable and lightweight but cosy.