Handmade with love

Just to let you know that progress is still being made on Coraline and Manu though slowly and I have decided to make a red clapotis but haven’t bought the yarn yet, sock yarn has arrived from baaramewe for my menfolk, but I need to buy needles.  So needle and yarn buying are on the agenda for this coming week but in the meantime I have made a couple of spontaneous purchases that have made me very happy.

I don’t know about you, but being a knitter has increased my love of the handmade and the original, buying from independent craftspeople has always made me giddy with joy, partly because of owning something unique and partly because supporting cottage industries has always been important to me.

My first purchase occurred on a visit to Abbotsford Convent to buy freshly roasted and ground coffee and enjoy an indulgent Sunday morning breakfast (Mocha french toast with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, yumdiddlyscrumptious).  Happily, we just happened to be there for the skirt and shirt market, so after brekkie we wandered around the market where many beautiful handmade goodies were on display.  My eye was caught by a dress in a lovely grey and brown wool fabric with hand dyed silk ties that can be worn in many different ways.  I chatted for ages with the designer and maker, a lovely Croatian woman called Sunčana and she showed me the many ways I could wear it, my favourite are shown below.

It makes me want to learn dressmaking especially as I’m constantly disappointed by the lack of and quality of dresses and skirts in the shops.  Especially, as I have recently resolved to avoid wearing trousers and jeans as they are unflattering on me, yoga pants for the participating in yoga are allowed though for obvious reasons.  Ho hum, will just have to buy more handmade.  The skirt and shirt market is on, on the third Sunday of the month between 10am and 4pm at Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne and Sunčana also sells at the Rose Street Market at Fitzroy, Melbourne.

My second spontaneous purchase occurred as I was whiling away some time waiting for my boots to be repaired, so I wandered into The Stitchery in Essendon to check out yarn, as you do.  I was massively pleased to find that they now stock more boutique, independent yarns than previously and found myself deliberating between some Aslanyarns Merino and Alpaca or a Mohair and Jasper handspun 12ply from Peru.  The handspun won out as there was only one skein and they wouldn’t be getting any more in, here it is.

I only know that it is really soft, 250g, 12ply but, have no idea about yardage or who spun it. I want to make some kind of shrug/scarf/shawl with it, any suggestions? It should go very well with my new dress and many other garments in my wardrobe.  The button I am holding in the last dress picture was bought in The Stitchery to go with the yarn, my purchases might be spontaneous but they are co-ordinated.

Now ISO red yarn and red boots…

Abbotsford Convent Baking Day

I had a fabulous day today at Abbotsford Convent Bakery with some of my colleagues and friends from work.  It started bright and early where we were greeted with coffee and tea and introduced to our lovely teacher Dan who was to take us through the art of baking scones and bread.

Dan stands in front of the original brick built, wood fired bread oven (1901), that we will bake our bread and scones in.

We start by making scones and Dan emphasises how a light touch is required, unfortunately my mixture is a tad wet and I fail to shape my scones very neatly.

They still taste great with the homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream and a lovely cuppa for our morning tea.

We make pizza dough and white and light rye sour doughs too.  As they prove we go for a walk around the convent part of which has been converted into an arts and well-being centres with some lovely cafes.

We saw exquisite hand blown glassware being made

We returned to top our pizzas, and tend to our bread dough again. Dan gave us some top tips on how to test the dough to see if it was kneaded enough, proved enough and how to make a sour dough starter etc.  We made 2 pizzas and had some for lunch with lovely organic coffee that had been freshly roasted and ground that morning in the next room to us.

We came home with our aprons, a certificate, a recipe sheet, 2 light rye sourdough loaves, 1 white sourdough loaf, our scones and pizza plus some leftover pizza dough (top tip, leave pizza dough in fridge overnight for a tastier pizza) and some organic bakers flour.  I also scored some sourdough starter (8 years old!).  I will definitely return for more classes, such a brilliant day !