Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's been a while

So yes, it has been a while since I've been around, but work has gotten the better of me and I've been making clay samples, instead of getting stuck into my weaving. The balance between my day job and producing my own work has been really difficult to master. Instead of feeling guilty about it, I've cut myself some slack and decided that holidays is when I get creative. Baking has also taken a back seat, but I have had some time to experiment with vanilla custard filled eclairs, and yesterday I made a yogurt and lemon cake for afternoon tea. A disaster in the kitchen ensued - it had had sunk to a very thick pancake and I had friends coming round in an hour. There wasn't nearly enough time to hide the cake and make something else. Fortunately, it was still delicious served with whipped cream and berries. In the mean time, I must remember that chefs with pony tails cannot be trusted. I hear you saying there might have been something in the way I whipped the egg whites, or opened the oven a few too many times to check it wasn't burning. It's always difficult getting it right the first time you make a cake, but nah, it was the recipe. Which reminds me, there are so many great blogs out there, and if you're into food, then Island Menu is super. Beautiful photographs, great styling and food that makes your mouth water - perfection really. Anyhow, these are a few knitted samples I made on my break that will hopefully turn into something over the coming months.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


These past few weeks, I've managed to fit in some drawing and baking. I dusted off my blow torch and made Crema Catalana for the first time. Practice is needed to perfect that one. I also have my eyes on an eclair recipe I want to try. I'm ready for a choux pastry challenge, but that will have to wait until next weekend. Back to drawing for now.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Madeleines for Hayley

I've had a hankering to try these for quite some time, and Saan reminded me of this Saint John's recipe yesterday. These madeleines remind me of all those times I've made honey joys. Perhaps this is the much more grown up adult version. In any case, they were delicious. Happy birthday Hayley, sending you madeleine love from Melbourne.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A black and white sample

One of black and white samples I wove over the past two weeks. I ended up running out of time to do more than three warps. So my coloured silk warp will have to wait. For now, holidays are over and it's back to work. This is for Jessie.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back in the weave room

My head was a mess yesterday. I've been mulling over how much work I need to do, instead of enjoying the process. So today, after a lovely morning tea, that is what I decided to do. Perhaps it was also that the sun came out this afternoon and I had company in the weave room. I wound this warp onto the loom on Monday. A black and white double weave warp - almost five meters long, and I've only got a few samples left to weave. I am guilty of romanticising things at times, and perhaps that is what I've done when I've been busy with work. I forget how taxing it is on your body, and how slow going weaving can be when you keep making mistakes. The plan for next week is to wind on two different warps. One in silk, and the other in linen. I've been desperate to try a warp and weft silk sample since seeing a Mina Perhonen colour and weave pleated number. It was amazing. Fingers crossed mine looks half as good.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I don't often eat out at expensive restaurants, but one of my siblings is a chef and I get a little spoilt when I visit, so I thought why not. He is a talented one. Each plate was an art work of carefully constructed flavours and textures. Smears of beetroot painted on plates with large brushes, earthy wintry tones offset by tiny splashes of bright colour. My favourite was the blue swimmer crab pastitsio with a fricassee of celery and leek and crab foam. Melbourne has been miserably cold these past few weeks, and crab always reminds me of summers spent camping by the beach. I'm a little obsessed by the sweet things in life, and I've wanted to paint some food for a while. Here was the perfect opportunity for some practice. Earl grey infused custard, butterscotch caramel, pear jelly, krema ice cream quenelle, chocolate soil and micro herbs. There wasn't a bit of soil out of place, that is just me, covering up my accidental spots. It was amazing, thanks Joe! I think it might be time to bake, the smell of lemon drifting through the house is too tempting to resist.   

Some design work

Just a few things I've been working on lately using double weave techniques with black and white yarns. Even though painting out designs can be time consuming, I love the process. After I've chosen my colours and yarns, I usually sit down and mix them up in gouache and ink, play around with ideas as I go. Illustrator comes in handy if I want to try out other colour combinations or work on scale and balance. I have eight days of my residency left and plans for four different warps. Not impossible, but certainly ambitious. I just bought a few new colours in silk that I want to try out in a triple weave design. That is, if I can get my head around how it all works.  
I've been wanting weave a warp and weft ikat fabric for a while and have resisted. Mostly because the process itself is very labour intensive and you need to be exact in your set up. Once on the loom, it's quite easy to weave, and it calls for using simple weave structures. I'm thinking of layering slight changes in dye colour over one another. The design itself will either be a luna or triangle motif, and was thinking I might use either linen or silk yarn. Linen can be troublesome to weave with, but certainly always worth it in the end.   

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A present for Mila

It's been a while since I have made one of these machine embroidered canvases. Over the years, I've made them for neices, nephews and friends. This is for Mila's first birthday. School is out for the next few weeks, and I'll be weaving instead. It feels luxurious to have time set aside for making new work. I'm excited by all sorts of possibilities and quietly hoping that the work will good enough for an exhibition next year. I've picked up some of my yarn and there is more on the way. Tomorrow I'm off to see the Vienna Art and Design exhibition at the NGV with my sister. We are both lovers of Schiele's work - the way he paints hands, and his use of colour. He makes a great shade of pink! I can't remember the last time I was so excited about seeing an exhibition. I never usually take along a sketchbook, but I think tomorrow might be the exception.       

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Colour mixing

The sun filtering through the window this afternoon was so lovely that I couldn't resist setting up to paint nearby. I've always found colour mixing difficult, but I've gotten better at it with practice. I usually work back from available yarn types and colours to make a palette. I don't have the patience for dyeing yarn. So though this was to be playing with geometric pattern, I ended up with something much more organic. I can't really use these for my weaving work. Once they are dry, I'll probably add some fine line work. But right now, I can't get enough of acid green, bright orange, pastel shades and a grey or two. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It all starts with a brainstorm

Brainstorms remind me of my childhood. Now we call them mind maps, but I much prefer the former. The word suggests something of the unpredictability that comes with making and creating. So this is a brainstorm for some new work. Although I haven't had any time for weaving in the past month, I’ve just been offered a residency. I finally get to spend some serious time in front of a loom. Exciting times ahead!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oranges and Lemons

The trees are full of ripe oranges and lemons. Once seeing them, all I could think of was cake. I had one of those internal fights with myself. While my head was saying 'no baking', I couldn't help but ignore it. After a quick scan of my cookbooks I settled on a Ottolenghi recipe. Orange, lemon and polenta cake for which I substituted semolina. It looks rather pretty once turned out onto a plate, with rounds of caramelised orange slices now sitting on top. All it needs is a light glaze with some apricot jam and a cup of tea. Again, no photographs, you're going to have to use your imagination on this one, and I might have to mark a little more work to deserve a slice. Right now, I'm so thankful it's a long weekend. Back to work for me.   

Monday, May 30, 2011

Winter setting in

The view this morning as I drove to work.

A new sample, a new book

I've finally gotten around to photographing a sample for a new range of scarves. The colours available in cashmere from Avril are pretty amazing that, amongst others, I couldn't resist using the super saturated turquoise for this small run. I really want one for myself, but I think I'll be last on the list. Once woven, the final design will look a little less like stripes and more like large blocks of colour. When you're using cashmere, you don't want to hide it in the warp yarn. Using a double-faced twill means that the colour will be saturated on both sides. Oh and Nigel Peake, he's awesome too!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pop Craft

I've been trying to fit everything into my week since starting a new job. Let's just say there hasn't been much time for weaving. Pauline, a talented friend has opened a pop up store on Lygon Street East Brunswick called Pop Craft for which I was to supply scarves and jewellery. The jewellery is complete and hangs alongside work by label Stella Has Knits. The weaving however, will take me a few more weeks to finish. The store occupies a single shop front in the Harvest Textiles building and sells beautiful knitting yarns, along with work from emerging designers and installations by local artists. Gus Kemp's work features this fortnight. Also on offer are classes by amazing hand knitter, David Pearce and machine knitting classes by Leeana Edwards. If you're in the neighbourhood, it's worth a look. More photographs to come.   

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I've been wanting to try my mum's recipe for doughnuts for the longest time and finally got around to it today. Unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence of my labour. It was late in the day when I got started and by the time I had filled half with pasty cream it was dark outside. Bomboloni have to be my all time favourite sweet. Saint Johns Bakery in London still has the best I have ever eaten, and will probably remain so until I return. As to my effort, a ten out of ten by my sister and a superb from my niece was high praise indeed. I've been staying at a friends this week, so perhaps I'll have to whip some up to say thanks. So, here are some other things I've been working on and looking at. My yarn has arrived and I've been lusting after so many of the interiors in Handcrafted Modern. Thanks Rowan and Saan.    

Sunday, May 1, 2011


It's been a little quite on my front, but I've been busy with new things. My yarn order arrived so I can finally start weaving my scarves and a little collaboration with jewelers Rowsaan has yielded this; a Huon pine pendent with a sterling silver hand made clasp and silk kumihimo braided rope. All for a limited edition project in the works. Will get back to you with opening dates.

Monday, April 18, 2011


A garden rose, just because I love them. If I'm on a leisurely stroll, I can't help but smell any rose I happen to walk past. No stealing was done in aid of photographing such blooms, I promise. This is from my garden and its fragrance is so lovely. After all, who could resist something that smells delicious and is the most beautiful shade of lavender? Not me! 

Friday, April 15, 2011


As promised, a few baked goodies to make use of the delicious apples from our tree. I got a little carried away and before I knew it I made pie, tarts as well as some raspberry and white chocolate muffins earlier this morning. The kitchen smelt so good as I was sauteing the apples for the tarts, it reminded me of my mums apple slice that my siblings and I have been asking her to re-create. I fear it's a case of forgotten recipe. For the pie, I played around with Nigel Slater's recipe calling for apple and blackberries. Not being able to bring myself to use lard for the pastry, I settled for Tartine's sweet pastry dough and used a handful of raspberries that I had in the freezer from picking late last summer. It was fun decorating the pie case with leaves. The tart was a little more time consuming, sauteing the apples in batches in butter and sugar, and then covering them with a sliced almond, sugar and egg white mix. Happy weekend!     

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Busy times

With my brother's wedding last weekend and so much work to do, I haven't had time for baking these past few weeks. There was plenty of chasing around nephews and nieces, eating freshly shucked oysters and ripe green skinned figs on picnic blankets in between ceremony and reception. A perfect day. The apple tree in my backyard has been groaning under the weight of delicious apples. Light greenish yellow skin and not too sweet or tart, they are great for baking. I quickly made a batch of apple, walnut and maple syrup muffins this morning but I've been desperate to try something a little more challenging. I'm going to give Nigel Slater's apple pie recipe and go, and promise a follow up post by the end of the week. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

New work, old work

A fifteen metre warp all ready to be wound onto my loom. My week will be spent setting up and winding this on with the help of some friends.

After finally washing my carpet, I thought it would be a good time to photograph it. I lucky enough to take part in a two day carpet making workshop run by Mehmet Girgic at RMIT a few years ago. He brought over huge bags of naturally dyed tops that he expertly handled. I wonder what customs thought of this tall mustache sporting man with wool stashed into his luggage. I remember it being tough work. We set up on the floor, and spent most of that first day deciding on a design and then slowly filling it in. All work done on our knees. The second day was spent sprinkling, rolling and beating the carpets with warp soapy water, then a trip to the local laundromat to run them through a hot wash. I'd love to make a larger one, but considering the work that goes into smaller pieces, I'm not sure I will ever get there.

Felt is the oldest form of fabric, predating knitted and woven fabrics. So even before the Copts were weaving with flax, making beautiful garments, felt was used to create shelter in the form of a hut. Predating huts made of felt were those sewn together from animal skin. Felt in the right hands can be really beautiful and if those are Claudy Jongstra's, it is even more so. A trained fashion designer who now works on architectural, residential and art based work using wool she has harvested from her own flock of sheep and dyed using natural dyestuffs such as madder. Worth a look.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New work

Despite the cold Melbourne wind today, I managed to get a lot done and was so grateful for the sun when it appeared in the early afternoon. It was glorious addition to the day. My yarn has arrived and I'm going to wind the warp tomorrow. This sample was simply to test the technique, as the plan is to use a combination of baby alpaca and coloured cashmere. I wanted to keep the weaving simple and use beautiful yarn and colours that I haven't ventured towards before now. It is all a little bit of an experiment. My next project will be to give my pin board a lick of paint. It's looking a tad rustic, but for now I'm off to bake delicious lemon treats. Stay warm. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sydney Road

A much anticipated visit from a missed brother and his girlfriend was the inspiration for putting these up. Sydney road is dotted with empty shop fronts and signage dating from a time when Europeans were the new migrants and established businesses along this strip. It's often the little things that I love - hearing foreign languages being spoken, salty Lebanese pizza or squeaky cheese pie, coffee, dried porcini mushrooms, parmesan, pasta bought in bulk, nut filled sweet treats and lemon trees. I think it's time to make some lasagna! Perhaps I'll have to postpone that mammoth task until David gets here.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Right now, I'm working on a small range of scarves for a friend's exciting new venture. The idea was to use bright colours in combination with a few different shades of grey and a pastel or two. I've been in the studio, working with paint and mixing up colours. This time I don't have the yarn to work from, just a small sample card. Learning how to mix colour was akin to sitting through a painfully boring lecture, but I must say those lessons inform my current practice. Colour choice is probably my toughest hurdle at the beginning of any work. The constant question repeating itself is; is it going to work? I guess you never know that until you sample. Yes sure, you can simulate how colours might interact with each other in Illustrator but sampling is about the only way of being sure. Yarn after all, is not flat. So I'm going with my instinct, ordering some beautiful coloured yarn and hoping it all comes together. While tidying up my storeroom/bedroom, I came across this. I swoon over grey and bright orange.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Getting out of town

There is nothing like having a weekend off and taking a short trip to the beach. Especially if one is blessed with wonderful weather and there are events to celebrate. It was Helen and David's wedding part two, for which I made this cake. Part one took place in London. Called Devils Food Cake, it is similar in texture to a chocolate chiffon cake. I made this one with a caramel filling and covered it in ganache. Running out of time to make crystalised rose petals, the fresh ones worked a treat. Luckily the garden was full of beautiful blooms to choose from. The views and sunset were spectacular, the dancing fun but most of all it was lovely to be surrounded by friends and be a part of it all. I figure, there isn't anything in the world like fresh sea air. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Melbourne skies

Standing on a balcony at a friends, surrounded by gums and watching the local bats setting off for the night, this sky presented itself. It was indeed a lovely evening, quite a contrast to the thunder and fat raindrops now falling. I'm hoping it calms down before I head out for a late supper and midnight gig in the city. Although I haven't had much time for weaving over the past few weeks, I have managed to fit in baking. Last night I made a sweet tart shell, filled it with pastry cream and covered it with fresh berries. I'm enjoying practicing my pastry skills and I'm getting better at making custard. Which reminds me - there is enough pastry in my fridge for another tart, perhaps for another present as February is filled with birthdays. It is never as much fun eating sweets alone as it is sharing, especially among friends and family.