Monday, August 30, 2010

Owl in Spotlight new puppets

Greetings my friends!

I've had my head down and butt up sewing my Cinderella fingers to the bone for the upcoming show for Halloween. But I wanted to share a scene with you!

This is our heroine, Dort, stumbling across a scene from the Salem Witch Trials.

These guys are some of my current favourites. I love the flames and the pastor's bible.

Of course, often my favourites are whichever I've a) just made or b) my eye has just fallen on.

You can see a few more of the felt guys at our Flickr account.

I'm having a ball making them. Firstly I do a bit of research and find a spooky or halloween scene that I want to build, and then I set about creating it. It's been a really interesting process, unlike all other shows we've worked on, this time I'm making a bunch of guys and then I thrust them at Robert Reid (the other half of Terrible Comfort) and then he gets to weave them all together into a script. Usually the script comes first. It's be really exciting to see how it works from the images first this time!

Big fan of this show... We've had Peter Houghton in to pre-record all the voices and really, listening to him tell the story was a wonderful experience, just like having your dad tell you a bit of a spooky bedtime story.

I love my life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

make an owl, be a part of the next Terrible Comfort show!

Good morning my friends!
I'm almost back up ad running on the blog, there's been major life changes and it's taken me a while to get organised again... But we're working on a new puppet show for Halloween this year and we're doing a call out for handmade owls... Read below!

Come one, come all… Terrible Comfort is working on a puppet show for Halloween this year called Owl in Spotlight (How Dort Taught The House to Behave). It’s at the Carlton Courthouse, which is an old courthouse that’s been converted into a theatre but still retains all of it’s period features and multiple doors for Halloween this year!

The storyline is eight year old Dort and her family have finally moved into their new home but the house is not too happy about it. In fact, it wants them gone and does everything in its power to scare them away. Hideous ghouls and nightmarish monsters emerge from the houses dark shadows but they haven’t reckoned with Dort. A fully trained monstronaut, Dort isn’t having any nonsense from the house and, along with her pet bunny Chuck Norris, she sets out to investigate and teach the house some manners.

Owl in Spotlight (How Dort Taught The House to Behave), uses hand and finger puppetry, diorama, digital sound design and a walking tour in a spooky back stage exploration of the theatres. Designed as a Halloween event, How Dort Taught the House to Behave is appropriate for all ages and encourages the child in us all to find the courage to reason with our fears.

To help with the ambiance, we want owls scattered everywhere throughout the venue. This is where you come in!

Most of the sofites we’re making are around 20cms tall, so our preferences for owls would be around 10cm to 20cmsish. The bigger they get, the further away from the action they’ll have to be positioned to keep everything in perspective. The individual owls wont have credits next to them, but you will be credited in the program. People who contribute owls’ll get a free ticket to the show, if you can manage a couple of owls you get double passes. We’re happy to give them back at the end, but we’d love them as donations to Terrible Comfort. We’re hoping to tour our shows around the place and Dort will be one in our repertoire.
We happy for any kind of owl, how ever you want it to look, whatever material you want to make it out of and whatever position you want it to be in (flying, sitting, standing, other…) We need the owls by about the end of September.

To avoid theft, we encourage you to add a little material loop to the back of your owl, and we’ll then screw/sew the little guys down and maybe even put little bells on them. YAY!

Please let us know if you’re interested in participating in Owl in Spotlight. and do feel free to forward this to anyone you know who might be interested.

To see more of Terrible Comfort go to their website –

Terrible Comfort. We make our own fun!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

doin' time, the old fashioned way...

I'm currently off on an adventure, and totally without internet for a few weeks. Hence the radio silence. But rest assured I will be back in June to fill your screens with crafty goodness.

Until then, my friends....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So I think the question we're all asking ourselves is

If we had pet ducks, how would we take them for swims?

Found on a charming website filled with old photos here
Photo comes from here

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Smellllllllll that cooking...

You know the best thing about making Homemade Breadcrumbs

It makes the house smell like baking bread.

Big, BIG fan of that...

Friday, April 2, 2010

History of the Granny Square!

I'm so excited! I've found evidence of how far back Granny Squares go! I've been researching them in an attempt to place them in history. Clearly they have a revival at the moment and I know they were huge in the 70s, but where did it start?

I've done a bunch of research on the net and can't find out anything about the history of them before the 70s... until now!

I was looking through a book I've got which is a reproduction of a number of crochet newsletters stuffed full of patterns from a company called Weldons from the mid 1800s. Right at the back, there's a pattern for "Patchwork Squares", which has a little blurb at the top describing how useful these are for using up scraps of yarn you might have, and how they're great for rugs, baby's blankets and the like. Breathless I turned the page to see if I could find an illustration and there, on the next page, was a handsome black and white engraving of... a granny square!

I'm so happy! Granny squares date back to at least Victorian times! That's so awesome to find. How good is  researching? Love it, love it...

Granny squares image from

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Research is such a pretty thing

I'm working on a new project, this time it's a solo photography exhibition. I wont say too much about the actual theme at this point, but so I'm doing a whole swathe of research on stuff from the 30s.

I want the photos to have an element of realism. Since they're sort of vaguely set in the 30s, I don't want to have something that's glaringly from the 60s in them. This stuff didn't used to matte to me so much, but now I'm a little older and I've worked on a few films and tv shows that the head of the art depaartment clearly know so much about the time being portrayed and search high and low for just the right thing, well ladies and gentlemen, I have been influenced.

This doesnt mean, however, that if I need a pair of shoes in the shot that they have to be from the 30s. More I'm interested in getting the right feel, so a pair that are 30s in style but modern will be jsut fine.

And since I'm researching lots of interesting things, I thought I should share some with you. Today I've been researching old pin cushions.

Usually I start by asking - did they use (insert whatever I'm researching) back then, or is it a more modern thing? Today I didn't need to ask that as I know that Nicole, the owner of the amazing Circa Vintage Clothing has a pin cushion dating back to Victorian times, we chatted about it last time I was in there. So I was ok with the item itself.

Next I do some research to see if I can find what they looked like back then. Google images and ebay are your friends for this. I don't have to BUY what I'm looking at, I can jsut as easily make it. And anyway, usually old things that are cheap enough that I can afford them look worn and faded, and that isn't great for convincing someone looking at a photo (or a set) that they're looking at a brand new thing and the era itself is old.

I didn't find any pincushions labeled from the 30s, but I did find a number of vintage ones in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I loved this one (above), found here, although I don't think the person who runs that website created/found/owns it. It's an old tin with a roll of paper in it that's been used as a pin cushion. The antique pins are great and the cushion itself is really unusual, I've never seen one like it. I decided that I might go with this one, until I came across the next one...

Then I found this, over at Little Paper Dog.

It's perfect! It's got that perfect homemade feel to it, but also that Depression era never-throw-anything-out, always-reuse-what-you-have feel to it. That 'make good, make do' sensibility. I was reading about the times when stockings were just simply too hard to get, that ladies drew their seems on with eyebrow pencils. Very clever, very thrifty. And that's what I like about this jar.

Little Paper Dog's Michelle has a tutorial here for these jars, but they are all over the craft-o-sphere (I guess I'm late to the party) so you can google "pincushion" and "mason jar" and find a number of people who have caught the fever already...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

some cool street art I've seen over the week

Firstly, one from my Uni

And lo, I did feel pride.

Next came from down Sydney Road the other day.
they were awesome little tiger heads attached to the pole. They didn't have any kind of tag or anything, but I think they might be Mal function's guys. Oh, yeah, I've jsut been checking Mal's flickr, and this photo confirms it. I'd love some of these guys for my own!

The last one isn't quite street art, but did remind me of a bandit ninja organic bunny, so I photographed it

Friday, March 19, 2010

First Lady of Knitting

what a great title to hold! I was on the Historic Fibers blog and checking out the links on the right nav bar. There is a big pile of awesome knitting history links and I thought I would share them with you all.

Firstly is The Hook and The Book virtual exhibition. An awesome and comprehensive resource from what looks like a museum exhibition. Filled with pictures of historical examples of knitting and crochet, lots of explanations and links to other places. A great place to spend some time.

Next is the Victorian and Albert museum in London. They have a knitting section here where you can look at their knitted items and even submit photos of your own! I think that is kinda cool, submitting your stuff to become part of the V&As digital collection. They also have a range of 1940s patterns that are free to download here. The Essentials for the Forces booklet cover comes from that page. I love the look on the woman's face! Determined and thoughtful but also a little cross.

Speaking of old knitting patterns, Sarah's homework site is one lady's project of scanning in and uploading heaps of old patterns, i think from a book she inherited, but I could be way off there.

Another site that's doing much the same thing is Vintage Purls There's some gorgeous items you could make at home including my favourite, this little fairy toy. I think making a fairy that someone a few generations ago created to delight children back then would be joyous.

And to round things off, an essay about knitting during wartime called Knitting for Victory, which is where I got the title of the post from. I find it fascinating that at several points in history, it was considered a woman's patrotic duty to knit knit knit. It's just such a different society now, we're not really called upon to do that. However, having said that, the excellent Pip and the Handmade Help crew restashed crafters and encouraged the donation of handmade goodies for the bushfire victims, so maybe it's now more a grassroots urge of helping community rather than a governement spearheaded operation for troops at the front.

Which reminds me, that HBOs Pacific comes out soon, and there will be a scene of picnicking families and sweethearts and somewhere in those groups will be a lady knitting about 5 inches of olive drab ribbing for a jumper on tortoiseshell needles while she sits and watches children play. That, my friends, was my first ever war effort. Nowhere near the amount of effort that Anthea Chrome did knitting all the outfits for Coraline, but still, it's the second biggest piece of clothing I've ever knitted, and even then I didn't finish it. 

As the lady handed it back to me at the end of the day, she said "I'm sorry, I think I dropped some stitches. I've only done about 3 rows." She was dreadfully concerned. I smiled and said that it didn't matter. It was, after all, only a prop.

But still, I like to think about it as my first war effort!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monsters are really the best

A couple of net finds while I finish off a few things...

Firstly, I came across these awesome guys from Silent Orchard I love them! I love the thought and detail that's gone into the charaterisation of each one.

She's got a number of great softies on her flickr, so do go check them out. 

And from the ArtDecadence blog,this. It's the oldest Alice in Wonderland film in exsistance, filmed in 1903. So beautiful and I love the sepia tone!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A beautiful thing.

The lovely and most marvelous Pip from Meet Me At Mikes had a little muse the other day as to how to help your little ones become avid readers. It's a lovely post filled with good ideas to help encourage reading in children. Along with that it has some great comments attached! If you haven't read it already, check it out here:

And I couldn't resist adding the image she used. Wild Things and books, some of my favourite things! I don't know where she got it, but it's clearly the wonderful Maurice Sendak and I love it :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

soul comforting beauty in North Melbourne

A friend of mine has just opened the most beautiful shop in the world with one of the most inspiring names I've ever heard.

Orlando and Ivy. It makes you think of Picnic at Hanging Rock kind of times, all white dresses and hints of green. It's such an evocative title! And the store itself is  so beautiful. You walk in the door, away from the noise and busy-ness of Victoria St into a quiet oasis of calm filled with gentle old world charm. 

I'm so taken with her shop, I want to live there! And I'm also dreadfully honoured that one of the photos she's put on her blog ( to celebrate the opening has my products in it! The granny bunting draped across those beautiful handmade boxes are mine. Shucks :)

So come, support brand new local businesses and introduce into your space some incredibly beautiful things. I'll copy the text from the website because it's more eloquent than I can be at this time in the morning...

ORLANDO AND IVY is a creative emporium located at 424 Victoria Street, North Melbourne.
Purveyors of locally sourced art objects, wearable art, journaling supplies, creative tools, books, and other high-quality publications.

More incredibly beautiful images can be found at the website:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cheese n Corn Chowder

This one is one of my very earliest things I learnt to make, and I love it.
Plus, it's really simple, which is always wonderful.

1 can of corn
1 can of creamed corn
1 onion
some garlic (depending on how much you like, I usually use about 2 cloves)
a teaspoon or so of cumin seeds
a stock cube (chicken or veggie)
2 cups of hot water (for the aforementioned stock cube)
a wodge of grated tasty (or other good-for-melting) cheese (I do a couple of good pinches per person)
1 potato (optional)
a wodge of fresh herbs, chives for preference by parsley works wonders as well

  1. Cut up the onion and fry in a little olive oil until just before it starts to turn brown
  2. cut up or mince the garlic and chuck it in the pot for a minute or so, stirring constantly in the hope the onion doesn't go any browner
  3. make up the stockcube in the hot water, pour that into the saucepan
  4. empty both corn cans into the water as well
  5. if you're using the potato, cut it into small cubes and chuck it in now too.
  6. and chuck in the cumin
  7. leave to simmer, stirring occasionally for around 10 to 15 mins, or until the potato is soft. If you used it. :)
  8. Put the herbs in now, stir and leave for a few minutes
  9. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle a wodge of grated cheese on the top.
  10. Serve with fresh buttered bread.
Best In Soup Show ribbon, 10 years running!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I managed to break my only watering can
well, not just break but actually shatter parts of it

And then I unpacked the sink to wash the dishes
and found I'd made my favourite antique kitchen implement rusty


I'm a terrible housewife.

I think I'll just sit and not touch anything else
Just in case...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

craft yourself some army surplus

I was just researching some less plans for political stuff and I came across this craft activity. Yes, it's how to make your own gas masks by the John Curtin Prime Ministerial library. There's a number of lesson plans on the site which include 'craft activites'. Naturally I clicked on it, and clearly this fun gas mask was the only one they'd thought of stemming from Curtin's time in office.

People think of the weirdest things to teach children.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Argyle guys

A friend of mine is going away for a while and taking his tiny laptop with him. But he's never had a case for it, and I think it's important to have a padded case to protect it.

With needles at the ready, I jumped into action!

I've never knitted an argyle before, it's a mindbending exercise in frustration. And my advice to those of you embarking on it is
Dont Get Cocky.

The MOMENT you think "ahh, I've finally got it worked out, this is easy!" you'll grab the wrong colour to knit and it'll stuff up.

But there is good news for you! Every cloud has a silver lining, and argyle's silver lining is that it's actually very forgiving. a wrong stitch here or there is actually quite hard to spot. And that makes you love it.

Even while you're hating it.

I researched argyle patterns online, and drew one out on grid paper. The pattern is much harder at the start when you don't have the previously knitted stuff to guide you. Each diamond had it's own yarn, so there was 4 strands each of grey and white and then 8 black strands for the zig zags. because I didn't have 4 balls of each colour, I cut lengths off the each ball and used that. So a lot of the padding between the laptop and the world is actually the knots where I attached more yarn to each strand.

The pattern for the bag itself is really simple, it's a long rectangle that's folded up at the bottom and over at the top. I sewed it to felt to line the bag and add an extra thickness of padding. And for a final protection, I cut the plastic bottom of a purchased shopping bag to size and inserted it between the knitting and the felt at the front of the bag. That stiffened it nicely, but made sewing the buttons on not as much fun as I'd hoped.

When I was staring at the finished argyle, the buttons just looked like eyes, and since my friend is a fun kind of guy, I decided that it just needed a tongue, to enhance the face. But because he's all corporate, I decided a tie-like tongue was the way to go.

The tongue can be folded back into the bag when needed, to show the more corporate side of things.

He loved it, and I was quite pleased.

But I think it'll be a while before I knit another argyle!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dandelion Wine

This one is really simple and half of the ingredients are free! Once it's ready, it has the fizz of champagne and it sweet and tasty

You'll need:
About a litre of dandelion flowers, picked fresh
2 litres of water
750g sugar
an orange, quartered or 8thed
a lemon, quartered or 8thed
1 tablespoon of yeast
some bottles

Pick the dandelions fresh and wash them quickly in hot water to kill any bugs that might be in them.

There is much debate whether leaving the green bits of buds on the flowers will result in a more bitter wine, but we're not really sure. But we cut the green bits of the flowers anyway.

Throw the flowers into the water with the sugar, the orange and the lemon, and bring it to the boil.

Simmer for an hour.

Let the mixture cool and then add the yeast. Leave for 24 hours in the pot.

Strain out all the lumpy goop, and pour into sterilized bottles (we save other alcohol bottles for this purpose). the most important thing is DONT SCREW THE LIDS ON YET!!! 

You need to wait until fermentation finishes, which is usually about a month. The wine will be ready after about 3 months. We like to leave ours for a year. It's a long process, but worth it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You need to use your imagination for this one

I want to share an event with you, but since I wasn’t there, I don’t have any pictures of it. But it’s magical and wonderful and you should close your eyes and picture this…

A friend of mine works as a stage hand (stagie) for one of the tv gameshows that use flitter, which is the big glittery stuff that drops from the roof when a contestant wins a substantial prize. There is another stagie there nicknamed Cookie, (all the stagies and camera guys of their generation have nicknames, sometimes two or three, which makes it confusing for anyone not in the know working there) and Cookie had brought his umbrella to work months before and kept forgetting to take it home. So my friend, Jumper (see? what did I say about the nicknames?) decided to play a prank on Cookie. Jumper half opened the aforementioned umbrella, filled it chock full of flitter, closed it tightly and replaced it. Then he played the waiting game.
About a month later it had been raining all day and had just eased as they were packing up to go home, so Jumper reminded Cookie about his umbrella. Cookie was very grateful, collected it and walked up to the tram stop. It started to rain again so Cookie, a short, stocky, sort of balding dude, did what anyone holding a closed umbrella would do in this situation. He raised it above his head and opened it.

Golden flitter rained down under the umbrella all over Cookie, drifting to the ground and gently sticking to several people surrounding him in the tram queue.

Apparently there was a little girl standing right next to Cookie who stared open mouthed as it happened, clutching at her mother’s hand with delight. Imagine standing at that tram stop that day, watching that magical moment pour out of Cookie’s umbrella.

That, my friends, is a transformative moment, changing the tram stop from ordinary to incredible, just for a minute, and that is the sort of thing Terrible Comfort wholeheartedly support.

(originally posted on the Terrible Comfort blog, but I love this story so much I wanted to share it with you guys too)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Have yourself a merry handmade christmas...

Finally all my christmas presents have been received, so I can share them with the world! Buying handmade is a wonderful idea, but making handmade for those you love is so warmingly satisfying as well.

I made up a number of hampers that included homemade chutney and treats, and a few of the hampers had some crafty presents as well. After learning the magic of the crochet star chain, I made a number of them including this rainbow one for a special family.

Continuing the crochet theme, I wanted to make some wine bottle cozies for several people as well.


And last but not least, some dolls. Firstly, a Alice bunny girl for a special little girl.

and due to a relatively new in-joke about russian Babushka dolls between a sister and I, here is her Babushka  on the left and her partners' matching-but-talored-to-his-favourite-film Babushka on the right. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm attempting an argyle for the first time. Oh my god, it's a brain breaker! Just when you think you've got it going ok and you've figured it all out, you notice that you did one wrong stitch half a row back and you have to decide whether to rip it back out or not.

Very typically of me, I don't have a pattern, I found some arglyes on the internet and drew the pattern on a piece of paper, I've been working off that. It's very hard to start, but as the knitting grows the arglye is easier to see and thus easier to continue.

But getting cocky is dangerous, and it's really quite labour intensive, so it's a slow process.

Instead, let me show you some photos of the latest finger puppets I've made. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Dame Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey to the stage...

This is Dame Judi Dench, from the black and white film The Cherry Orchard

This is photo she is based on

found here:

And Kevin Spacey:

Here is Kevin on set for The Iceman Cometh:

These two puppets have been created for Terrible Comfort's Expression's on Modern Drama which can be found on Youtube here

Go and check it out!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daisy Yarn Petals, that was her game...

I was hanging out at a friend's home who needed a bunch of flowers (although she didn't know it yet) waiting for her to come back so I grabbed my crochet hook, some white and yellow yarn and went to work.

These are based on the Royal Sisters' Grandma Star, which I haven't been able to put down since I learned it.

I wanted to make stems for each of them but I ran out of time and materials. I thought either crocheted or you know those old fashioned coloured plastic knitting needles? You could use one of those too.

I hadn't gotten to weaving in all the ends when she got home, which is why they're in this mostly-finished state, but they had the desired I Got You Flowers effect anyway, which was nice.