I’m Legit Actual Super Attractive (Disclaimer: this statement is of questionable veracity)

Gentle reader,

Well, it has been a while, though not eons, but I’m ever so glad to see your lovely faces again (thought I guarantee you won’t be thinking the same thing towards me after this post!). And sure, I can’t actually see your faces, but I imagine them, and they are indeed extremely lovely.

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December Travels – Chapter Three – Thrifting!

Gentle reader,

This will probably be the last of my December Travels posts before I get back down to business. But, it’s also probably the post I’m most excited to share with you!

I don’t know about you, but I love, love, LOVE a good poke about a thrift store. Back when I used to do costume design, I would hit the thrift stores hard – I once costumed a cast of 30+ on $200 with change to spare – but I didn’t come to love it until I quit theater and started thrifting for myself. Some things just aren’t fun when it’s work!

Well, while I was up in Queensland, I managed to do a bit of crafty thrifting and I think I did pretty well! First up, while I was in Brisbane, Panda and I dropped into this crazy antique store that we happened upon. It was quite big, and was more of a serious antique/collectors store, and some of the treasures in there were mind-blowing (with prices to match, in a good way!), but they also had some small little lovelies with more thrifty prices. Naturally, I managed to sniff out the craft accoutrements and patterns in no time, and I picked up these babies with change out of a tenner.

Lower left! Totes adorbz, yes?

After my few days in Brisbane, I caught the bus to my home town. After Christmas, my fantastic friends, Alf and Robert, drove up from Brisbane to visit me and we went thrifting! Now, my home town has some amazing thrifting. Because it’s a smaller town, and perhaps a little bit conservative, it’s not yet caught on that thrift stores are a bit “cool” these days. Or at least, that’s what it was like last time I shopped there…

But now, they’d finally caught on! And prices reflected that. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind. Most of them are charity stores, remember! So more money in their pockets are a good thing. But, I still felt a small niggle of nostalgia for the days of filling a bag for two dollars. Ahhh!

We popped into a few stores (in spite of my nearly getting us horribly lost a few times – it’s been a long time since I’ve had to get around town, everything had changed!), but nothing struck my fancy. Until we got to the big Lifeline store, and I managed to find a taste of the old days with some ridiculously cheap gems!

It seems that while it’s caught on that thrifting is “cool”, it’s yet to catch on that knitting and crochet is now a bit “cool” too! I found two pattern books and… A DROP SPINDLE!

I love the aran sweater on the front, but there are some tragic beauties inside!
"Raynie! Take me home! I've been waiting for you!"

Now, none of their patterns were priced, and I don’t think anyone knew what the spindle was. I took them to the counter, and I was served by the most gorgeous elderly lady named Vera. She looked them over, and not seeing any prices, she ummed to herself for a bit.

“How does fifty cents sound?” she asked with a lovely big smile.

I was floored! “Really!?” I exclaimed. I rummaged in my wallet and found a two dollar coin. “Let’s make it two dollars, shall we?”

“One dollar!” countered Vera, bless her!

“Vera! Why are you trying to talk me down? Take the two dollars!” I said with a laugh. She looked at me for a second and then giggled as she took the coin and bagged up my purchases. Too adorable!

I think vintage patterns are becoming a compulsion for me. I don’t even really intend to make most of them. Definitely some of the mens patterns. But, even if I don’t plan on using them, I just adore them! And I feel like, what will happen to them if sympathetic crafters don’t take them home? I can see this becoming a hoarders-like situation. Oy.

Things will be back to normal after this one, I think! Be prepared, I have a finished object parade busting to be blogged, and I have lots of exciting news (classes, anyone?). So, stay tuned!

What are your favorite thrift store purchases? Share, share, share!

– R

December Travels – Chapter Two – Christmas Lights

Gentle reader,

One of my family’s traditions is to drive about town leading up to Christmas looking at all the Christmas light displays. There’s an especially large one held at Queen’s Park in my home town, and it was quite the show. Some of the pieces were a little random to me, but some were truly amazing.

A nice sentiment, yes?
Lights, lights, everywhere!

The lights were everywhere you could possibly imagine to put lights! And all varieties. Those candy canes were all made of some bizarre fuzzy stuff that was difficult to photograph, but looked really cute.

Christmas non sequiturs?

Some seemed completely arbitrary and non-Christmassy. Kangaroos? Sailboats? Wombats? Demonic owls? Umm… okay… I guess they were going for an “Australian Christmas” thing, but I never really got that sort of thing (I never really understood the whole “Easter Bilby” thing either).

The Blue Tree

In the middle of the whole display grounds was a giant blue light christmas tree set in the center of a pond! It was quite spectacular in person, and the reflections in the pod were magical. (You can also see more random lights like the windmill and the Eiffel Tower).

Beautiful Lanterns

My favorite part though were all the orb lanterns. They were strung through many of the trees and were just beautiful. Some were solid orbs that changed colors and some were wire frame spheres wound with fairly lights. It made me feel like a gnome living in the trees or something.

Lions, doves, and arches! Oh my!

Even without the light displays, it’s a really lovely park in it’s own right, and a few little reminders of that could be found in quiet little corners.

Flora!

And lastly, Toowoomba’s not called the Garden City for nothing! There were some amazing flowers and foliage about the place too.

There’s at least another chapter of December Travels to come, and it’ll definitely be craft-related, never fear!

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and everyone traveled safely! Many happy wishes to you, and thank you for taking a bo-peep at The Shy Lion in 2011, and I hope you’ll stay with me in 2012!

– R

December Travels – Chapter One

Gentle reader,

As many of you may know, I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane about a year ago and these holidays I’m spending two weeks in my home state of Queensland. Week one is almost down, and here are a few highlights! (Please forgive the iffy picture quality; some of the shots and all of the editing were done on my iPod and iPad!)

First, the flight from Melbourne to Brisbane!

I LOVE flying, and I love flying even better when you take off before dark and are still in the air after dark. These pictures don’t do the amazing horizon justice. Also, I love photographing clouds. I think they’re totes amazing.

Clearly, she is a model and I am not.

My best friend Panda picked me up from the airport and I stayed at her place in Brisbane which she shares with Audra and Eden who are also amazing peeps and were so generous with their hospitality.

Over the few days I was there, we checked out some great stores, got a Totoro phone trinket, ate crazy amounts of Bread Top, went to visit our lovely friend Kath and her beautiful shop, Handmade High Street. We also went on a wild goose chase for yarn stores – one was shut and one didn’t exist anymore – before we finally made it to Tangled Yarns, which is AMAZEBALLS. They stock Berocco, Pierrot (my fave!), Cascade 220, madelainetosh, and Malabrigo. I’ll definitely be going back there. We also wandered through an antique/bric-a-brac store where I picked up some delightful old knitting patterns (more on that later!). I also got to catch up with my adorable friends, Alf and Robert.

Suzie, the lovely lady, and Larry, the resident water dragon.

On the Sunday, I visited Judy, one of my favorite people ever (you may remember her from my post about the crochet bolero I did a while back). Her and her husband Peter made the most delicious BBQ lunch, and we relaxed on their back veranda while Suzie and Larry kept us company.

Judy's hat, made from Noro Kochoran.

I also snapped Judy in the hat I knitted for her (and finished the night before). I made it using the Hurricane Hat pattern by Andrea Goutier with Noro Kochoran yarn. I’m not sure what color way, because it was just a left over ball from something with no label. I don’t know why, but all those shots came out blurry. Oy. But, Kate will be pleased that I’ve posted another FO. Happy, Kate!? Geesh. ^_~

"Sah-kurity!"

I also managed to get a bit done on my Bon Qui Qui cross stitch. The picture is terrible, but you get an idea. I drew Bon Qui Qui on some graph paper and then used colored pencils to figure out my color blocking, and then started stitching. I’ve got a looooong way to go, but it was nice to do something a bit different.

Pan-Pan! I miss you already! (Also, is my bottom lip really that big? Oy.)

Finally, on Monday, Panda dropped me off at the bus depot to catch a Greyhound to my home town. I was super sad to say buh-bye to Pan, and there were some friends I just didn’t have time to visit. But, I was so excited to see my folks, and we’ve been having a great time so far. More to come!

How is your holiday season going so far? ^_^

– R

Great Ocean Road. Also, A Crocheted Shoulder Bag

Gentle reader,

So, it’s been a wee while since I posted something substantial, and the reason for that is because my parents were visiting from Queensland, which was so wonderful. But, they’ve since returned to the sunshine state, and life has returned to normal, and so, it was time to share!

I’ll get the crafting out of the way first. My Ma’s birthday was at the end of January, and even though I’d sent her gifts already, one of them – a crocheted beret – I was really unhappy with. So, to rectify this I worked super hard to get this crocheted bag done before she got here. I didn’t get it done before she got here, but I finished it before she left.

Crochet Should Bag

This isn’t the greatest picture as I snapped it hastily before Ma left. It’s crocheted using rows of single crochets followed by rows of double crochet with front post stitches to make the V pattern. I think it turned out really beautifully, and I’m even pondering making another as a store sample for the shop.

I used the 210-43 Shoulder Bag pattern from Pierrot Yarns. I’m kind of obsessed with Pierrot’s patterns, and I’m also making two of their other patterns – one for me and one for a gift. They’re a Japanese company, and only some of their patterns have English translations, but the crochet ones are so well charted that you really don’t need to speak a word of Japanese to understand it. The only change I made to the pattern was to repeat the pattern rows once, because I felt it was a little shallow.

For the yarn, I used Cleckheaton Natural Cotton. I picked it up from the sale bin at work for $2 a ball. I’ll be honest with you; it felt almost like stealing. This yarn is so beautiful to work with. The colors are subtle, but beautiful – the picture can’t do it justice – and it feel so soft and clean and it’s very co-operative to work with. It didn’t split very much and didn’t un-ply too much either. I definitely give this yarn five stars, and I can’t understand why people don’t seem to buy it. If you see it around anywhere, snap it up!

Mama love it too, and was pestering me to hurry up and finish it and photograph it so she could use it already. The only problem was that the strap stretched out a bit over a day or two, but that’s easily fixed. I probably ought to have done a crab stitch edging but it slipped my mind.

Now, onto the adventuring!

While Ma & Pa were here, we did an overnight trip along the Great Ocean Road which was incredible. Leading up to the trip, I was so inspired by Jules‘ amazing photography on her blog, and I had been reading a few articles with tips on how to improve your photography, so I tried to take some decent shots that aren’t too garbage-y. So, here’s some of my favorites as a sort of photo journal of the trip.

On the first day we stopped for lunch in Lorne.

Beach at Lorne

Then, after lunch, we made out way to the Cape Otway Lightstation, which I have to say was the biggest stand out of the weekend for me.

The Telegraph Station at Cape Otway

After purchasing your tickets in the gift store, you then walk along a path towards the lighthouse, which at first you can’t see for all the greenery. First up, you come to the Telegraph House, which you can wander through. The museum-type exhibits are a little sparse, but super interesting and well presented, which I kind of preferred because it wasn’t information overload.

The Lighthouse!

Next, you go past the Lighthouse keeper’s house and some other buildings, and then there’s the pathway to the Lighthouse itself, which is at the end of stony bluff. Best of all, you can right up to the top and out onto the little gantry. I don’t have any pics that really demonstrate very well how high up you are, but it’s really amazing. And the wind up there is insane! I literally had a few moments where I thought my heart would fall out of my face because I thought I was about to be blown right over the railing. The sound of the wind howling and the waves crashing is out of this world; it’s not hard to understand why the Victorian coast has the most shipwrecks of any coast in Australia. This was my favorite experience of the whole trip!

A Few Apostles

We stayed the night in Port Campbell which was really nice; our hotel was on the edge of a natural cliff-walled little inlet, which was kind of amazing. The next day we went and a look at the Loch Ard Gorge. It was really excellent, and there are little placards here and there that tell the story of the Loch Ard wreck. I really enjoyed this; it was super interesting and the Gorge itself is quite a marvel. Then we went to the little cemetery at the top of the Gorge to pay respect to those who were lost in the wreck.

Then we went to see the Twelve Apostles, which are arguably the most famous sights on the Great Ocean Road. They’ve built a little visitors’ center and a walkway to go out and see them. It’s all respectfully done, and it is a really amazing sight, but it didn’t appeal to me as much as the Otway Lighthouse or the Loch Ard Gorge. I couldn’t say exactly why, and it wasn’t necessarily because the Apostles are more touristy – they are, but they’ve done a great job of being quite respectful to the landscape as well. They’re still incredible and well worth seeing.

One of the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk platforms

Next up we went to the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk which was also really awesome; third place to the Lighthouse and the Loch Ard Gorge. If you’ve ever been to the O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk, it’s a very similar experience. They also had a dinosaur garden, which was kind of cheesy, but I loved it all the same. You can also see the forest from a flying fox, but it was quite expensive (though, probably worth it) so we gave that a miss. The gift store wasn’t too nasty either; and they had lots of beautiful photo books and history books about the area.

Meadow

Strangely, one of my favorite parts of the Otway Fly was the meadow you had to walk through to get from the parking lot to the visitors’ center. It was a beautiful green slope covered in little yellow daisies and dandelions (the photo from my last post); I half-expected Maria Von Trapp to skip out from the trees and burst into song. There was also this pretty grass. I took the opportunity to snap a few close up shots like this one which I thought came out quite well.

Then, we made our way back home. It was really lovely trip, and I’d gladly do it again. Next time around I think I’d like to go further along to Warrnambool and visit the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, since the shipwrecks and that sort of thing I find incredibly interesting. And now, here is me looking grumpy.

Grumpy McGillicutty

I wasn’t actually grumpy, but the wind was so blustery, that even with glasses over my eyes, it was getting all up in my face. So awesome. If I remember correctly, this was at Loch Ard Gorge.

So, that was my little coastal interlude, and it will be back to crafts pretty soon, I’m sure. There are some exciting things happening that I hope to share soon!

– R