Blanket Stitch: Musings on Craft for the Soul

Recently I was thinking of Pip Lincolne’s book Craft for the Soul and how much I like dipping into its pages. My mind meandered off, thinking about how I’m not really a crafty person. I can do basic mending and can knit squares and scarves. For a while, I used to make my own tops, frustrated at the lack of colour and choices available in a regional town. It was something that brought much pleasure: the thoughtful selection of fabric based on design and texture, and matching the thread and buttons to the material. I enjoyed the process of preparing the fabric, cutting and shaping it to suit. I think, too, this was when my love affair with audiobooks started. Making clothing is a mindful task, and I enjoyed listening to stories as I constructed something wearable out of a block of fabric.

That night, after thinking of how little craft I have done, I woke thinking about my blanket. It is made of many woollen rectangles, knitted over months. Most are stocking stitch, although a few show some more sophisticated patterns. Some of my favourites were made using blended wool, incorporating a variety of colours. Seeing one colour fade out and another take over was one of the pleasures of the yarn. The rectangles are in a range of colours; the shape of each piece is the common thread.

One winter I took the piles of woollen rectangles to my Nan’s place. We laid them on a table and moved the squares around to get colours working together. We decided on the number of pieces required for width and length, making piles in the agreed row order.

Then the stitching began, using multicoloured yarn to link the pieces together. With Nan’s help, the blanket began to take shape as squares were joined by blanket stitch, then rows linked together until the blanket grew into a recognisable form. As we worked there was conversation and companionship amidst the cups of tea. The blanket continued to grow until all the pieces had a place of their own.

The blanket has been a constant source of warmth and comfort for many years. In winter it is the base layer as other blankets and quilts are added to counter mountain chills. In summer it is often the only source of warmth for the early hours when the night cools down in preparation for the day ahead.

When there were severe bushfires through the mountains in 2013, this blanket was one of the few possessions I put into my car, just in case I couldn’t make it back and my home was lost.

Some squares have fared better than others over the years, but overall it is holding together well. It is a daily reminder of a precious pocket of time with someone who I loved, and who loved me. And a reminder too of a time when there was craft in my soul.

Do you have craft in your soul?

[Photo: part of the blanket]


My I Spy: something beginning with ‘Y’

Yes, the end of this alphabetical adventure is just around the corner. It is tempting to write that it only felt like yesterday when I came across the idea on Pip Lincolne’s blog to play a version of I Spy. At the time I thought it was a brilliant idea, a way to make use of some of the many photos that I already have plus keep an eye out for objects in my daily life. When I reached the halfway mark I remember thinking that the alphabet was a lot longer than it seemed – the adventure takes six months from start to finish. But it has been such a treat to keep an eye out for objects, familiar and otherwise. Here is what I’ve spotted beginning with Y.


Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (Brunfelsia)

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia)

This is one of my favourite plants. The shrub appeared in several spots in my grandparents’ garden on the northern beaches of Sydney. One of my best memories is of walking around the extensive garden in the late afternoon with my Nan, and with endless patience she would tell me the names of plants. They had a wide range of camellias, gorgeous shrubs and trees with a variety of flowers that lit up the garden in the cooler months. The blooms of a brunfelsia bush were modest in comparison, but I loved the mixture of dark purple, lilac and white blooms said to represent yesterday, today and tomorrow.




As noted earlier in this quest, my favourite colour is green. In recent years I’ve started to gather red objects around me with yellow also starting to appear. There is something about the vibrancy of a sunflower or a bright yellow pot. This lovely glass bowl looks even lovelier with a small candle flickering within.


Yellow Tulips, Carrington Hotel

And above are some lovely tulips spotted in the gardens of the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba in early spring.


Platform Y, Temora

Platform Y

Passing through the central western town of Temora earlier this year, I detoured to take a photo of the old railway station. It was beautiful and ornate, and tucked up the end was Platform Y. I took a photo and continued on, discovering later that this part of the railway station has been repurposed as a youth centre. A brilliant idea and great to see the building have another life.

Have you spotted anything worth yearning for beginning with Y lately? Join me next week for the final instalment of this alphabetical extravaganza as I spy something with my little eye beginning with Z.

[Photo: yellow teapot spied at Bygone Beauties, Leura]

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘I’

Imagine being here already! It has been great to feel more present as I keep an eye out for objects and images each week. I have come across some interesting things that I probably would have missed in my usual distracted and daydreaming state. This is what I’ve spied beginning with I.


This is a recycled photo, originally used as a writing prompt for a blog post a couple of months back. I happened upon this on a Sunday afternoon meander down to Mona Vale on the northern beaches. There is a bookshop there which I had passed by and was keen to explore further – Berkelouw Books – and this was across the road and up a flight of stairs. I couldn’t resist as it is one of my favourite starting points for daydreams and writing prompts. And it reminds me of Scrabble. Imagine if …

Indian Pacific

Indian Pacific, Central Station

Indian Pacific

I was lucky enough to travel from Sydney to Adelaide earlier this year on the Indian Pacific. The weekly service from Sydney travels all the way to Perth and back, and it took roughly a day to wend its way from Central Station in Sydney through to Adelaide. I really loved the dawn stop in Broken Hill, and the second photo is taken from the mining museum which overlooks the town. In the foreground the silver streak is the train.


View of Broken Hill with Indian Pacific in the foreground

On my trip there were 27 carriages with two locomotives pulling the 230 tonnes of rolling stock stretching over 640 metres. There were 28 crew members taking care of 165 passengers with another 50 or so being collected at Broken Hill.

It was a great trip and it took a little while once I arrived in Adelaide to get my land legs back. Some Wednesdays I pass the train snaking its way through the upper mountains and I give it a cheery salute and smile. It just makes me happy to see it.



A broad term, it’s true, but when I came across the collection of miniature paintings in Lithgow I was struck how each of them had the potential for the starting point for a story or musing. The paintings are a display in Secret Lane and they celebrate the creativity of new and established local artists. I love coming across visual treats like this.

Have you come across anything this week that has inspired your imagination?

Earlier alphabet blogs can be found here: A, B, C, D, E, F, G & H. You can find lots of great I Spy posts on Autumn’s blog, and I was originally inspired to start this through one of Pip Lincolne’s posts. Happy spying!

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘H’

Heading towards halfway in the alphabet challenge, and there is still much to spot and spy. This is what I’ve tracked down beginning with the letter H.

Henry Lawson, Grenfell

Henry Lawson, Grenfell, NSW

Henry Lawson

I came across this rather whimsical statue of Henry Lawson in the main street of Grenfell. Lawson remains one of Australia’s best-loved poets and writers, and there are several towns throughout the central west of NSW that claim a connection with him. These include Gulgong (the association with Lawson was memorialised on a previous $10 note) and Grenfell. Both of these towns hold annual festivals with literary awards in his honour. There is a Henry Lawson Walk at Mount Victoria, and his trek from Hungerford to Bourke in the west of the state was legendary. Lawson had his personal demons but his work is still read and referenced. ‘The Drover’s Wife‘ remains a favourite of mine, and his poetry contains much humour and pathos. ‘The Loaded Dog‘ is also a great yarn.

Bird Houses at Lithgow

Bird House, Main Street, Lithgow


It is true that these are bird houses, but they are such a bright collection that I couldn’t resist. This artistic installation is one of many popping up in the streets and laneways in Lithgow. You can see the actual installation here. I love the details, no two are the same.

Heron Island

Heron Island

Heron Island

Earlier this year I had a couple of days on Heron Island with one of my oldest and dearest friends. I had no idea where it was, geographically speaking, and discovered it was on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is compact, about 40 acres in total, and has a research station and resort where the amazing bird life and ocean life can be experienced up close. This photo was taken from a sunset cruise trip – very mellow. An incredible place.

Hargraves Lookout, Blackheath

Hargraves Lookout

Hargraves Lookout, Blackheath

This lookout, past the tiny town of Shipley, offers an expansive view of the Megalong Valley. There are some more panoramic shots here. If you follow the cliffs back around from Katoomba towards Blackheath, the smudge of white on the horizon is one of my favourite ‘H‘ spots – the Hydro Majestic Hotel.

Have you spotted any interesting things beginning with ‘H’ this week?

You can catch up on previous alphabet posts here: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Next? I. Pop over and see what Autumn has spotted here.

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘G’

Good grief! It feels like I’m powering through the alphabet. When I started out, knowing that it would take six months to wind my way through the alphabet, it seemed that it would take an age to make any headway. But here I am, galloping after things that begin with G. This is what I’ve spied lately.

Galah cushion

Galah cushion


I love galahs. I love their flash of colours, the way they tend to hang around in flocks, or in pairs as a minimum. They can be spotted in most areas of Australia but for me they evoke wide open spaces where you can see them en masse. There was a lovely photo of a galah recently on Offerings from the Wellspring and you can see it here. The above photo is of a beautiful cushion which was a birthday gift from my sister.

Old Government House, Parramatta

Old Government House, Parramatta

Government House, Parramatta

Originally built in 1799 for Government Hunter as a two-storey house, the building was expanded over the following decades and remained as the official residence until Government House was built in Sydney in 1845. Its location as the country residence for the first 10 governors of New South Wales provided a welcome retreat from life in Sydney Town in the early decades of the colony. It also reinforced the importance of Parramatta’s location from an agricultural perspective. The property remains surrounded by extensive parklands and is a popular destination for locals and those from further afield.

Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa)

These plants have become increasingly popular, particularly in public plantings. I first became aware of them at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo, where they were planted in a magnificent procession along the entrance walkway. Prior to blooming, they look rather awkward but when in flower they are magnificent. You can see some brighter images here. I spotted these along the foreshore at Meadowbank wharf, where they stood out even on a dull day.


Green moss on rocks, Meadowbank

Green rocks

Okay, so perhaps this is being a bit creative with G, but green is my favourite colour and I couldn’t help but take a photo of these green, moss-covered rocks along the Parramatta River at Meadowbank. There were oodles of them as the tide was low, and I found it calming just to look at them. If I’m agitated, I can find peace in looking out at green leaves on trees. I know, small things.

Have you seen anything great starting with G this week?

With thanks to Pip Lincolne for the initial prompt, and Autumn for spying in another hemisphere. You can see early spies here: A, B, C, D, E and F and follow other alphabet spies on Instagram at #MyISpy.

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘F’

I am sitting here, wearing a forest-green top, my mind a flurry of fuzzy thoughts on recent sightings of ‘F’ related items. Without further ado, here I go.

Fish plate

Fish plate


This might seem an obvious place to start but it takes me on a bit of a tangent. The fish above is a ceramic plate that my Mum recently spotted for me and its bright colours drew my eye. I have been thinking of fish a bit lately as there is a lovely painting of Japanese fish in one of my favourite cafes in Katoomba. When I call in to order a morning coffee, I spend a happy minute or two just staring at this painting with its bright flashes of colour and movement. The fish draw the eye, but I also find some sort of meditative calm in staring at the bubbles stirred up by their swirling movements. I find it mesmerising and, like the Peace Monument in Katoomba, one of those moments when I can focus on what is in front of me in a pleasant, mindful trance.

Fireplace at Wyalong Museum

Fireplace at Wyalong Museum


Cool mountain winters mean that most places up here have fireplaces or sturdy heating systems to get through the cold nights which can happen at any time of year. This fireplace was spotted further afield, in the excellent museum at Wyalong. Wyalong is in the wheat belt of NSW, and there were significant gold finds at the end of the 19th century. Larger deposits were found a few kilometres away at West Wyalong, and this is where the main town now is. But it was at Wyalong that the original administrative heart of the town was located, and the museum is in the old court house. The fireplace is ornate, as befits the status of its location, and I like the accompanying instructions on the art of the coal fire.

Froggy friends

Froggy friends


Couldn’t resist this duo of garden frogs. The large frog is looking particularly dapper in his shirt and tie, although his pose remains relaxed.




The quality of life in the mountains would not be possible without the continued care and dedication of the many rural fire brigade volunteers who keep us safe not only during bushfire season but all through the year by minimising danger wherever they can.

Next I’m off to hunt for good things beginning with G. Thanks again to Pip Lincolne for the idea prompt, and you can spot earlier posts here: A, B, C, D and E. Keep an eye out, too, for what fellow spy Autumn is up to, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the wonderfully artistic Michelle Genders will be spying on Instagram from the end of September.

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘E’

It is with much excitement and enthusiasm that I present my favourite ‘E’ spies from the week that was. Enjoy!


Emus in the Hartley Valley


I have passed these birds for over 3 years as I have wound my way through the Hartley Valley. They are usually in the distance, but are used to drawing attention and often loiter near the fenceline in hope of a treat. Knowing that E was coming up, I paid closer than usual interest to their location and pulled over on the way to work recently to take a photo. They weren’t fussed at all. I took several shots inbetween laughing when one of them yawned, and was surprised by the low throbbing noise that they made. A quick Google search confirmed it was normal. Their brown eyes were huge – you can catch a glimpse on the emu at the front. I was pleased to finally make their acquaintance.

Elephants spotted at Vinnies



Sticking with the animal theme, I spotted these two elephants at a Vinnie’s store, waiting for someone to take them home. I like elephants and have a couple of garden ornaments but I thought there might be someone out there who needed them more than I did.

Evans Lookout

Evans Lookout

Evans Lookout, Blackheath

There is a turnoff on the edge of Blackheath before the road bends its way towards Medlow Bath. The sign is for the Evans Lookout, and despite passing it many times, I hadn’t gone to have a look. I had been to Govetts Leap, which is off the main road at Blackheath, but I hadn’t taken the four kilometre drive out. Thank goodness for I Spy, is all I can say. It was just before dusk and I thought I’d have a quick look. The sheer scope and magnitude of the view honestly took my breath away. As the light faded there were two raucous cockatoos (is there any other kind?) who screeched and wheeled their way into the canyon, quickly becoming mere dots of white against the backdrop. The lookout is named after a local solicitor and landholder, George Evans, and is well worth a stop. It has been my favourite spy so far.

Onwards now with spying F items. You can see previous I Spy outings here: A B C & D. Special mention to Autumn’s D posting featuring donkeys and Pip Lincolne who started me off on this tangent.