Saturday, 21 December 2013

Handmade Christmas

My determination that this would be a handmade Christmas has made these last two weeks completely crazy! 

I have.....
  • made pom-poms (and a huge mess) with my daughter's Year 1 class
  • gritted my teeth as I knitting a slouchy beanie (one of three) in West Coast Eagles' colours for Mr D 
  • bought some gorgeous handmade gifts from the Denmark Art Markets where my friends Laraine and Suki have a colourful stall filled with gorgeous garments and accessories they have made themselves - clever girls!
  • crocheted seven Granny Stars for my seven 'star' students at work
  • lunched with my knitting group at the (not so) Healthy Buddha (but it was very yummy)
  • crocheted a pressie for my Mum - shhhh!
  • cooked up a barrel load of tomato relish for more pressies
  • won a brilliant giveaway from here
  • waved to Santa at our street party
  • consoled my uncontrollably sobbing Year 1 daughter as she farewelled her teacher, Mr D, on his last day
  • had a little cry of my own on viewing the creatively poignant video he made of our children
  • gone to dinner with my workmates where there was much cackling and Making Of Plans
  • gone to G's Christmas outing with his work colleagues
and finally
  • painted a last minute Name Painting order at the same time as trying to pack the car.
For, you see, we are off to the big bad city for our Christmas with my family.
Yee haw!!
Wishing you lots of joy and laughter these holidays, and an absolutely brilliant and productive New Year!
And take care!!
Sam xx

Monday, 9 December 2013

A day away

We had a brilliant day, yesterday. Just us; just our little family, out and about and exploring some stunning places nearby.

We walked along the beach in the rain, we clambered over rocks, we dried out when the sun re-emerged, we ate our picnic lunch and then went for a swim before it got cold again.

And when we arrived home, we washed off the sand, changed into warm and comfy dag-around-the-house-clothes, and snuggled together on the couch.

Refreshed, re-energised, reconnected.

A great day? I'll say!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend, too.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Big Hearted Business Virtual Conference 2013

Latest wip - Lowlands Beach 40cm x 40cm
Have any of you heard of Big Hearted Business?
Big Hearted Business is the brainchild of musician Clare Bowditch (clever, clever lady!) and was established not so long ago with the intent to help creative people learn about business "in ways that make sense".
BHB have produced some wonderful podcasts that are available on their site - talks given by successful creative types sharing their stories and artistic career advice.
They even had a BHB Conference in March this year with more presentations by successful creative business types (more clever, clever people!), and happily, they filmed it all and recently released it as a Virtual Conference for paid subscribers.
And, oh, how marvellously fabulous it all is!
I listen as I paint. There are videos, too.
It's like having my own private cheer squad in the room. Hooray!
Do you listen to podcasts?
Can you recommend some good ones?
I'd love to hear.
Have a brilliant weekend.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Beanie Boys

I think the boys liked their Christmas beanies*.

What do you reckon?

Pattern found here (how I love!)


*Early Christmas pressie giving - their family is heading to Europe on Friday.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Albany has no commercial gallery. So to have my paintings on display and for sale at the Albany Visitor Centre is a Very Good Thing. They went up yesterday. Hooray!
To celebrate this step towards my dream life as a professional artist, I have decided to change a few things.

One of these changes is to my instagram name - a clarification and declaration - to @samanthadennisonartist.
Labelling myself as an Artist does not come easily. For many, many years I have been a Teacher, and I still am, with the work I do as the Education Facilitator to a group of determined young mummies one day a week. But with painting taking up more of my creative time, and with my painting now in a public arena, it seems a good idea to make it more official.
I am a Teacher. I am also an Artist.
My family tell me it was always so.

Life is good.
Scary, too.
Thanks, Robert, for the saying.
I'm choosing not to change my blog name yet, but I will be changing a couple of other things about it soon.
I have also changed my Facebook address to coincide:
I like to knit, too. Obviously.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

These last two weeks - November 24


  1. I finished some Christmas presents - two knitted boy beanies, and three crocheted cotton washcloths inspired by onecraftymumma's dishcloth swap;
  2. We had visits from three cheeky frogs who found themselves in a supposed Shangrila, aka our girls' toilet. So ensued the 'frog check' routine, which soon lost its charm, especially at 3am. 
  3. I finished another painting, "Mistaken Island";
  4. Miss M's soccer wind-up was held on a magic day at Frenchman's Bay - heaps and heaps of kids of different ages, all playing together and helping each other in the water - truly awesome.
  5. I finally got a much needed haircut;
  6. The blue tutu-ed twins experienced their first ever concert week of dance extravaganza rehearsals and performances - all 3 and 1/2 hours of it - with great energy, excitement and success (not to mention relief on Mummy's part), and;
  7. I had two of my paintings accepted for display and sale at the Albany Visitor Centre. Yay!
Busy, busy. As ever.

Life is good. Hope all is well with you.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Meghan Dress

I'm getting closer in my 'perfect-summer-dress-for-me' search - I have finished my first Meghan Dress - yay!

Designed by Sis Boom, the pattern has been around for a while. It is, as many have reviewed, easy to follow and easy to sew. I even lined mine, a technique I haven't tried before.

I also seem to be getting closer to the 'perfect-fabric-for-me', but once again, I have selected a fabric print with too much tonal contrast, when I should really work with more of a solid.

Even so, I'll sew this pattern again, for sure!


Monday, 21 October 2013

The Staple Dress

I'm searching for the perfect-for-me-summer-dress pattern because it is time to let my ever favourite Schoolhouse Tunic go! (or maybe just until the weather cools down again....)

I looked at the Washi Dress pattern, and even downloaded it, but decided The Staple Dress is more my style.

I made it, I shirred it - shirring for the first time ever using the assistance of the excellent online tutorial from Made by Rae (who designed the Washi Dress that I didn't end up making- oops!) - and now I have a new dress for summer! Hooray!!

And is it the perfect-for-me-summer-dress? 
I don't think so, but I'll have a better idea after I make it again with a purpose bought fabric rather than grabbing any old fabric I happened to have in my rather limited stash at the time.

With that, my search continues, but as I already have another pattern traced and ready to cut, hopefully it may not be too long before I get there!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

P.S. Don't you just love Ken in the bottom corner of the dress photo? He's such a schmoozer!! Can you just make out the other dolly on his right side? Ha!!

Friday, 18 October 2013

This month


This month.....
  • included two weeks of school holidays,
  • we went on a family holiday and stayed at a divine cottage in Nornalup for three nights (thank you, Aunty Jan!)
  • the girls all had their first fishing expedition - it didn't last long but it put smiles on their faces!
  • we visited quite a few artists who were showing their work as part of the Southern Art Trail (it was awesome!!) These paintings are by Serena MacLauchlan at Hotchin Gallery.
  • I got a crocheting bug - three cowls later.....
  • I managed to finish another little oil seascape painting - yay!
  • my love affair with the Schoolhouse Tunic entered its seventh episode, this time with a gorgeous purple linen,
  • my football team did NOT win the Grand Final, but I still love them!!!
  • Miss M started to learn how to use the sewing machine - she has yet to earn her learner's permit (which means she can use the machine without me having to constantly supervise), but she is almost there,
  • I experienced my first ever blogger/insta-meet - I bumped into Kate from 2littlebanshees while we both happened to be browsing the fabric racks at Albany Spotty at the same time.
  • we celebrated Miss M's birthday with a BIG party and the most decadent ice-cream cake of all time!! Happy Birthday, my girl!!
  • I have (obviously) had a break from my blog.

And it is good to be back.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Saving the (Birth)day!!

My twin girls had their birthday last week, and as usual, in the lead up to the Big Day, we talked about the Birthday Cake/s they would like me to make for them. 
I thought I was so clever.
"Girls, this year for your birthday, you can share one decorated theme cake or you can have an easy cake each." (FYI, an Easy Cake = coloured icing with Smarties and Freckles on top, my supposedly failsafe, go-to method for cake decorating)
"Easy cakes, Mummy!!" they shouted.
 See? Easy!
Until Miss J, on seeing her baked, circular and cooling-on-the-rack cake, burst into tears.
"But Mummy, my cake is meant to have straight edges."
"And where is the beach and water going to go? I had a dream about my cake. And what about the boat?"
Er... what boat, my darling?
Er... who is Izzy?
Izzy, it turns out, is the girl character in Miss J and E's current favourite licensed animated series which includes automated sailing ships, a captain with a hook, and a cheeky flying boy in green clothes who helps to save the day.
Quick! Grab the DVD cover, copy it twice, cut out, laminate, trim, and stick into icing on cakes between some Smarties. Phew!!
And of course, in the midst of all the birthday party craziness, the only photo I managed to take was one after everyone had left. Not an Izzy to be seen anymore, but I remember what the cakes looked like.

In fact, I'm thinking I will never, ever forget.

Do you have a favourite cake decorating moment? Or technique?
Do you have any stress/time saving ideas for kids' parties? Successful and not so successful ideas (like mine!) are most welcome - I have another party to organise in three weeks and I could do with all help I can get!!

Have a great week!


Friday, 13 September 2013



My honey is happy. He has built himself a wall.
This has solved a number of problems.
First, the new wall replaces the old retaining wall that just wasn't retaining much at all. Second, G has saved us some serious money by doing it himself. And third, but most importantly, it means he can now plant the vegie patch he has been planning.
He has missed his garden. He has missed growing his own food, working in an organic manner. He has missed pottering about in the patch, getting up early or staying out late into the evening.
Now that he has his new vegie patch to plan, plant and prosper, he is a very happy lad.
Do you need to have projects to keep you happy?
What project are you working on right now?
Happy, happy Spring, everyone!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Easy Folded Poncho #2

I finished this new Easy Folded Poncho on the weekend, knitted with a secret recipient in mind!

Pattern::   Easy Folded Poncho by Churchmouse Yarns
Yarn::      Malabrigo Silky Merino in Blackberry bought from Suzyhausfrau
Ply::         8ply
Needle::   4mm
Yardage:: 750 yards

No modifications this time.

So simple to knit, so easy to wear.

I'm already making another one!!


Friday, 9 August 2013

Granny Square Hot Water Bottle Cover

In recent weeks I have been trawling the net, looking for a crocheted granny square hot water bottle cover pattern to no avail. So, I made one up!
Now that I have finished my hottie, I now know why a pattern is so elusive - each hot water bottle is different, and each crocheter's tension is different, so a one-size-fits-all granny-square-hot-water-bottle-cover pattern remains a non-reality in most cases.
In spite of this, here are the links to my inspiration starters, together with the individual ideas and techniques that went into my hot water bottle cover recipe. It's worth giving it a go.
Inspiration from Foxslane, here*.
Granny square tutorial from Little Tin Bird, here.
Join as you go tutorial from Attic24, here (just scroll down to the end).
Construction and shaping ideas from Snaffles' Mummy, here.
Bobble shell edging tutorial from Attic24, here.  
  • Throughout I used 8ply yarn with a 3mm hook. I tried a 4mm hook at first but the squares were too big.
  • I joined the squares as I made them -  "join as you go".
  • The panels of 3x4 granny squares were worked separately.
  • When adding the red border, I made up the shaping, using a series of slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet and double crochet stitches to gradually increase or decrease the height of the rows.
  • I made sure to include five buttonholes evenly spaced in the final round on the base of the front panel.
  • The panels were joined using slip stitches but leaving a gap for the neck of the cover to be crocheted. 
  • The neck was worked in the round, increasing at the sides in a similar manner to that used by Snaffles' Mummy in her gorgeous hottie cover.
  • I used the bobble edge border as demonstrated, once again, by Attic24 (she's so clever!).
  • I sewed in the ends and added five red buttons on the back panel so the front would overlap the back when the buttons are done up.
Ta Dah!
I'm glad I took notes as I worked, but given that the other hot water bottles in our house in need of covers are different sizes to this one, I'll be using similar techniques to get the new covers to fit them, tweaking as I go.
Have a great weekend!

*I didn't set out to copy the red on foxslane's hottie cover - Miss E decided red was the perfect colour, so red it is!

Monday, 5 August 2013


We have had lots of trips to different beaches since we moved down to the South Coast, but on Sunday we decided to take the girls inland a bit, to the Porongurup National Park for a barbecue and bush walk. 
G and I are a bit partial to a bushwalk. We met on one. And even though I am in no way as fit as I was, we still like to venture out now and then. But for some reason, I don't think the girls feel quite the same way.
Walking up the hill among the karri trees, the girls whined all the way to the top. Not even our usual silence saver, "Shhh. Whisper or you will scare the fairies" worked its magic. Whine, whine, whine. Throw in a sulk. Maybe chuck in a tantrum, too. Throw oneself down on the track and refuse to move. Charming!

But then, when we turned around to walk back down, well, that was when the magic really happened.
"How was the Earth made, Mummy?"
"How did the fish start living on land?"
"How did animals grow fur?"
"How do trees grow?"

In the end, a magical wander and wonder!


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Commission + Crochet


Oh, it's been lovely! I have been lucky enough to have a painting commission to work on for the last couple of weeks, in the days when all the girls have been at school.  It's a seascape of a local area - hooray - and I would love to show you how it's progressing, but this little painting is intended as a surprise so it will just have to stay under wraps. Just for a bit.

Instead I am delighted to show you the progress I have been making in my most recent of yarny undertakings - a granny square hottie cover.
Inspired by the colourful crochet of Kate at and her granny square hottie which you can see here, I have been playing with my many small woolly scrappy bits and creating a hottie cover that is in high demand among a certain group of young girlies. Miss E will be the ultimate recipient of this piece as it's HER TURN!! Apparently!

I'm making it up as I go along - free(yarn)balling, as it were! There are a couple of other crochet creatives who have written 'recipes' for their hottie covers, but it is generally instinct, misguided or other, that is directing me in this. And it's fun. Of course!
Finally, I'm hoping this finds you all well because I know there are some who aren't. And I pray you will become well once again, Mandi. Love and strength to you and yours.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Yarn Along

Something else cultural that I managed to experience while in Perth during the school holidays last week was, well, I read a book. These book reading moments have been scarce of late, so I took to the task with relish and read "Burial Rites" by Hannah Kent in three days.
It's good. Very good.
And there's knitting in it, too which is understandable given that the characters are holed up in Icelandic winters with little to do.... keeping hands from being idle. For very powerful reasons!
I loved it, I cried over it, I recommend it. So very, very well written by a talented young Australian writer.
Next to 'Burial Rites', in the photo, lies my tikkiknits Darwinia dress I am making for Miss M. It's quite a lot further along than this photo indicates as I took the shot in Perth and left the novel behind for Dad to read.
For my next reading adventure, I have been seduced by the recommendations of @cypressfoss on instagram #book_chat, that 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' by Anne Bronte is one of her all-time classic favourites - I have purchased a copy online and am awaiting its arrival. Impatiently!
If you are on instagram and love books, #book_chat is a hashtag book club you need to discover - with giveaways!
It's so very good to be reading again!
Joining in with other Yarn Along sharing here.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Chatting with Cezanne

When we were in Perth during the week, I took the girls to the Art Gallery of WA. I know. I am still recovering.
But I desperately wanted to see the exhibition "Van Gogh, Dali and beyond" which is full of artworks currently on loan from the Museum of Modern Art.
I loved it!!
Even before we walked in, while we were waiting in line to enter, I caught a glimpse of the entry artworks through the door. Oh, my!!! There was the Van Gogh, but wait! Right next to it. There, glowing on the wall, a Cezanne still life!!! Ahhhhh!!!

I could have stayed in front of this painting, blocking everyone else's view, for hours. But I had the girls with me, and standing still is not something they are renowned for! And so, on we went.
The girls found the kids' art activity section - yay....

And Miss E thought the view through the window into the next room was far more compelling than the stunning artwork on the wall. Hmmm.......

The second half of the exhibition was viewed at a rather rapid pace, but that wasn't too bad. I had to exit the room to take the girls to the toilet, which meant that we had to re-enter, past the Cezanne, in order to see the remainder. Really? I have to walk past the Cezanne again? If I must :) !
I haven't felt such an emotional response to an exhibition since I saw a Brett Whiteley show at the gallery in the late 1980s. I think. And the biggest difference in those 25 years in terms of gallery etiquette would have to be the plethora of technological devices that people now take with them into exhibitions, and the NUMBER of photos that they take - hey, I'm one of them (obviously!), but it just seemed, well, wrong.
Great exhibition, great day. And great buddies - my friend Julie and her son came with us and I am eternally grateful for her kid wrangling assistance while I was being hypnotised by Cezanne.
This exhibition is worth every cent, and, if I manage to get myself back to Perth before the exhibition closes in early December, I am going to have another chat with the Cezanne painting.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Darwinia Babydoll Dress Ta-dah!


Seriously, this was so much fun to knit! I started this as a bit of a knitalong while watching the Tour de France. The dress is finished, and the tour continues. Yay! More knitting time!!
Tikki Knits' Darwinia pattern is cleverly constructed in one piece from the top down, and is written in detailed instructions which kept me interested every step of the way. The design can be knitted in two style options, Babydoll and Dress, and its flexible sizing makes it adaptable for all sorts of little girl body shapes and sizes. 
pattern::    Darwinia by tikki knits (aka Georgie Hallam)
style::        Baby Doll version
size::         size 21 inch chest and 5 year old lengths
yarn::        Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8 ply yarn in Sunflower
needle::    4mm, 3.25mm
yardage::  470m or so
mods::       I didn't knit the eyelet row for the ribbon - Miss J didn't want it.
I am really impressed with the Luxury 8ply; it's so soft and squishy, surprisingly so for such a well priced yarn.
And I have a very happy Miss J - if had let her, she would have worn the dress when it was still wet so I only needed to lightly block the hem, just enough so it wouldn't fold over. Now that I have made one, I have an order for another, the dress this time, from Miss M who has chosen "big girl colours", because "they are more sophisticated, Mummy!" Hilarious!!
Love love love this pattern!!


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Last week

Last week, le Tour De France began, and so did Miss J's yellow Darwinia dress which I began as a bit of a knitalong. The Tour is only up to stage 11 tonight, but I will be finishing the dress. And starting a new one for Miss M!
Last week I wrote my very first selection criteria job application. I have written many others over the years but somehow I have, until now, rather successfully managed to avoid selection criteria writing. It wasn't as painful as I had been expecting, but then I suppose all those Uni assignments I wrote a couple of years ago have tended to soften the pain of academic/professional writing somewhat. I have yet to hear whether it has been successful but I am hopeful. Crossing my fingers!
Last week I began what I now understand to be the lengthy process that is a tooth root canal. Yuck!
Last week I baked my first Flourless Orange Cake and wondered why I had waited so long to do so - it was yum!
Last week I picked up two of my little Albany landscapes I painted from the framer. I am not entirely convinced that I chose the best matt board colour and am very close to returning them so a better colour can be substituted. Okay. I've convinced myself. Back they go. 

 Last week, I painted my first Name Painting in a very long time. And liked it - it was fun! And I want to paint more. Anyone interested?
Last week I realised (while painting the Name Painting) that my glasses need upgrading - again!
Last week I had two entertaining dinners with one of my neighbours, one at her house, one at mine. I feel so lucky to have found another crazy woman so nearby, and the fact that her children are in the same classes at school as mine makes everything so much easier. I have even converted her to the delights of Offspring, lending her the DVD box sets to catch up, for which G reckons I have a lot to answer!!
And last (this) week, the girls started school holidays. I can't believe how tired they are at the end of term; neither can I believe how narky they are with each other - *sigh* - but at least they had fun painting today!
Making and Baking - life is good!