Archive for March, 2010

Cloudehill Gardens

March 29, 2010

Phil and I recently had a weekend away in Melbourne, and instead of spending all of our time in the city we decided to spend a day and a night in the Dandenongs. This region is a mountainous, forested paradise only an hour from Melbourne. Of course we didn’t have time to explore all the gardens, little shops, and quirkily named restaurants, but the places we did manage to visit were all beautiful. There’s one place I particularly wanted to share with you.

Cloudehill nursery and gardens is located in the village of Olinda. The hosts at our bed and breakfast told us that Burke’s Backyard had rated it as one of the top ten gardens in the world, a claim which, having visited it, I can readily believe. Cloudehill is beautiful.

The garden occupies several acres of sweeping hillside with views to the tranquil Yarra Valley, and is surrounded by a forest of mountain ash. The garden itself is planted in the style of a formal English garden, with several different ‘rooms’, allowing different styles in different areas. There are herbaceous borders, rose beds, ponds, sculptures, trees, lawns…everything.

Best of all, you can visit Cloudehill at any time of year as there’s always something to see. Bulbs peeking out in the meadows, japanese maples blushing pink, huge rhododendrons, neatly topiaried shrubs.

There is a small charge for admission, from memory it was about $7, and well worth it. Attached to the gardens is a plant nursery and a restaurant—we didn’t visit either but both seem to have earned good reviews. The neighbouring gardens, Rangeview, are also accessible from the Cloudehill grounds, for the cost of a gold coin donation. This wilder, more foresty plot brought back strong memories of Enid Blyton books.

I would recommend Cloudehill to anyone visiting the Dandenongs. It’s beautiful, peaceful, good value, and lovely at any time of year. Even if you’re not a fan of formal gardens—and I’m not—you will love this one.


A day at the markets

March 28, 2010

The handmade markets were on again today. I love these markets. Though they may be more expensive than others, though their organisation may lack a little, they are currently the best place to see new and inspiring designers and products in Canberra. Everytime we go (they’re only on four times a year), I fall in love with so many products, concepts, and lovely people. They make me really, really wish I was more creative!

Today Libby and I treated ourselves to some adorable and clever cupcakes. Mine was chocolate with a sweet little sheep on top:

and Libby’s was coffee flavoured, made in a little paper coffee cup and done up like a cappuccino.

The markets were at a new venue today and it was terribly, terribly busy. In shuffling along behind the masses of people (and climbing around the overabundance of strollers) our little group got separated, so it wasn’t exactly the group outing we’d envisaged. But I think everyone found some beautiful things, and we did manage to meet up for lunch.

Of course I came home with a few nice things, and plans to make more nice things for myself—if I ever get time!


March 27, 2010

Brightening up a working day.

Owl clock

March 25, 2010

My new owl clock arrived today!

Well I say new—it’s a vintage piece I bought on Etsy. The wait was (subjectively) interminable, but in reality probably reasonable. Hurrah for feeding my owl addiction!

Silver leaves

March 7, 2010

This is something I’ve been meaning to show you for a while, since I’m rather proud of it.

My beautiful silver leaf shrug, and my first project made without a pattern.

As far as self-designed knits go this was a pretty basic one. I’m going to share a secret with you, something only the shrug-knitter knows: shrugs are dead easy. They’re pretty, and look like they took some skilled construction, but the fact of the matter is that to make one, all you have to do is knit a big rectangle, and sew a couple of small seams. Simple, no?

I discovered this when I decided that a sweet knitted shrug was just what I needed to get me through summer. These directions gave me some basic info about shrug dimensions, and I used the lace chart from this scarf pattern (pdf). Add two balls of the delectable Sublime cashmere merino silk dk, a few long car trips, and voilĂ —silver leaf shrug.

The long sides of the rectangle are the cast on and cast off edges. I’ve blocked these into a scalloped shape, which I think is pretty and opens up the lace better. You can see these form the top and bottom edges of the shrug, and the short sides of the rectangle form the arm holes.

I really love this leaf lace pattern and it works really well in this yarn. And the best thing about the ultra-simple construction of this shrug is that it’s so easy to store—who can’t fold a rectangle neatly? I am a bit worried that the scalloped edges are a little loose, though. If they stretch with use I guess I’ll try to tighten them a little—can anyone tell me what’s the best/easiest way to do this?

Anyway, for the now the shrug fits beautifully and looks lovely too. And it’s boosted my confidence to try more sans-pattern knits!