Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas and Resolutions

New Years Eve already!!!

OK – whoever stole November please step forward!

Well, Christmas has been and gone (‘Already!’ sigh some, and ‘Again’ moan others) and brought its usual goodwill and pressies. My present were wonderful – just what I asked for from the Accountant (well, I had given him a list, with those things I especially wanted highlighted) and some great surprises (thank you Happy Spider, Taph, Rosered and Kate). I ate too much and didn’t drink quite enough (although there was a magnum of Moet supplied by my SIL and her partner on Boxing Day!). There was travel – there always is for us – and catching up with family.

The best bits – having my SIL stay (the Accountant’s sister) and bring her partner, both much loved by the kids; the expressions on the Princess’s and Destructoboy’s faces as they opened their Christmas Stockings – filled by Santa some time on Christmas eve, them again as they started practicing on the little bicycle with training wheels from Grandad and Nana, and their sheer unalloyed joy at the whole Christmas thing, from Princess being Mary on the Kindergarten float in the Christmas parade, all the way through to massive trampoline bouncing everyday since Boxing day!

In addition, because the Accountant is on holiday, I slipped off to the movies yesterday and saw my first film on the big screen since Chicago was released (around 5 years ago). There were about 10 people in the cinema on Sunday morning to watch The Golden Compass and I was one of them. Just for the record, I loved it (although this maybe partially because I was alone and could watch with the guilty pleasure of having slipped the leash). I adored Lyra’s knitted jacket – a mohair silk mix I would guess – while she was with the Gyptians. I also loved the fact that I saw it on the big screen instead of waiting for DVD release, for the fact there are likely to be 2 more, for the fabulous casting and for the fact I want to re-read (for the umpteenth time) the books. I was also rather glad to see that ‘Prince Caspian’ will be released in winter – I might have to book the babysitter to ensure I see that one!

I also received my teacosy swap parcel from the wonderful Sheila – she matched my kitchen colours absolutely perfectly and sent fabulous biscuits, chai, a whale tea towel from Canada and a skein of gorgeous Watercolour sock yarn from the Knittery! How lucky and spoilt I felt (and it arrived just before Christmas!)

I spent a very pleasant few hours over Christmas finally getting out the ball winder and swift I bought from Donny back in November (I think) and peacefully wound 29 skeins of sock yarn into balls. This made me realise I have rather a lot of sock yarn, given that I didn’t ball all of it, and this didn’t count any of the commercial yarns already in balls or those thoughtfully wound for me by hand painters and dyers. So please see the New Year Yarn Resolution a post or so back.

I did enjoy the winding, there’s something wonderful in watching a small piece of relatively simple machinery do its job gracefully and perfectly. I made gorgeous yarn cakes one after another – lovely.

On the knitting front, the band of the Bella Blouse grows immensely slowly – I am lucky to get four repeats (of the 32 I need) done in a night, as I apparently cannot count to 15 after 6pm. I have finished 1 Kaibashira sock in Fleece artist Somoko and love it and the pattern (and the little frilly cuff which takes ages and starts with 187 stitches), and think I need a mindless large project at some point soon.

The Princess coined a lovely word yesterday – ‘Stupideous’! I think this will be a very useful term and I intend to use it often for those things in life which are both stupid and hideous!

I forgot to mention Kate’s Pay it Forward scheme, in which I am participating in 2008. The first 3 people who request to be part of this on my blog will receive a handmade something or other during 2008. In order to receive this whatever-it-might-be, you must do the same – ask 3 people to participate and receive an item, and make something for another 3 people. I love the idea and am sure that being knitters, we will provide something just when it is needed!

Have a wonderful and safe New Year! Enjoy the last of 2007 and thanks for sticking with me this year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy, Happy, Happy!!



Well, it’s certainly obvious by now that Christmas will arrive before my 100th post. But will the New Year?

This week has incorporated all the usual week before Christmas madness – is it possible for a week to be possessed by the devil? At times it has certainly seemed that way.

I have been frazzled, bruised and the victim of seriously feral children (my own, unfortunately, so I can neither blame somebody else, nor give them back). I have been reduced to tears by bouts of screaming tantrums (not mine – the tantrums anyway) and have had to put it down to overtiredness and excitement (both theirs and mine). On the other hand, they have also managed to be absolute and total angels on at least 6 occasions each, so the karma probably balances out.

I had a particularly rough day yesterday, when out of the blue this arrived:


This is a parcel from Happy Spider and Taph, and even if it was meant to be a Christmas present I opened it (all knitters have no self control – that’s why we have stash – and more than one item on our needles! – and a Ravelry queue longer than our arms – my excuse for the Ravelry queue? My printer is out of ink until at least tomorrow, so rather than trying to remember all the patterns I want to download, I just whack them on the queue! Simple!)

What was in it? Joy was in that parcel. Pure, simple joy! It had the world's first skeins of Happy Spider’s new colourway, Gothic Princess



(Zephyrama – look away now – it’s mine!! Mwaahhh!)

It had a skein of Swoon in the Purple Haze colourway (I am the first person to have these in the world – I am so overwhelmed by this!). Swoon is a merino angora blend and Spidey’s cloud in heaven will feel like this yarn!





It had a skein of Magma sock yarn





And a skein of Spidey’s hand spun yarn in Peacock.








It had tea and an infuser. It even had a card with a shoe on it! And there seems to be a little sheep sheltering in there!


It was a parcel full of joy! I cannot thank the two of you enough for making a rotten day magnificent!

I also received my parcel from Irene at the Jolly Jumbuck – with 2 balls of Tofutsies, and a ball of Fleece Artist Seawool – and a pair of Addi dpn’s in 2.25mm. And a little bit of Pear Tree merino – just a metre or so, for fondling purposes. Happy! Happy! Happy! (Picture me doing the happy dance!)

This joy set me thinking about happiness.

Happiness is a wonderful thing – although you need some pepper in your life – some trials and unhappiness to measure your happiness against. Constant happiness would be a bit like eating nothing but fairy floss – cloying and bad for the teeth.

I am a happy person (mainly). I see the glass as half full, doors opening when other doors shut, the silver lining and the lemonade. Not always, but mostly. I enjoy life and my family, friends, blogging, knitting, house and surrounds. I am never bored (who can be bored with children, knitting, blogs, patterns, Ravelry, reading, music and the odd good film. And, when all else fails, there’s always the housework or garden to do.

I understand depression, because I have been there, too. But for the last couple of decades, depression as a state of mind has not featured on my mental landscape. I have had short bouts of deep depression, caused by miscarriage and other physical problems in that time, but they have been grieved over and wept away.

So, in this Christmas season, I’m going to count blessings.

I have 2 occasionally wonderful children, and an Accountant I love very much. I live in a lovely house in a wonderful place and have a great stash! I am in the position of being able to contribute to charity in cash or kind (although I could and should do much more), I have new skills to learn about my chosen obsession (knitting) and not nearly enough time to do it in. I love cooking and food and enjoy this. I love reading and blogging and have discovered a whole blogworld full of new friends and enablers. And co-dependents.

So this year, my chosen blessing is you! Charge your glasses, ladies and occasional gentlemen. Here’s to you! Thank you for filling my life with the conversation of adults when I need to talk to people taller than a 5 year old. For your support and affirmations. Most of all, here’s a toast to friendship!

May your Christmas and new year be safe, loving and happy – and your stash grow ever more SABLE! To you!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Husband Doesn't Understand Me

My husband doesn’t understand me. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.

He does not understand my obsession with knitting – and the yarn, stash and patterns which go with it. He really cannot understand the whole blogging thing – he thinks it’s sad and tragic. This is a man who has no hobbies and thinks perhaps he ought to have one/some. (This is also a man who can’t understand why women need lots of clothes and more than 3 pairs of shoes – and perfume!)

So, today. Today, a parcel arrived for me (immediate excitement – in fact at first I thought it might be my tea cosy from the Ravelry Tea Cosy Swap). One of the great things about living in the country and buying things by mail order and over the internet is getting parcels.

Then I realised the parcel came from the lovely Donyale. – Could it possibly be the Harmonies? No – it was smooshy and soft. It was a gorgeous jumper worth of Cleckheaton Tencel Wool. A whole jumper’s worth!!!! 12 Balls!!!! In a soft washed-denim bluey grey – absolutely wonderful! The little note with it said she was de-stashing, and thought this would make a great Montparnasse! It surely will, Donyale! – and I’m working very hard not to cast it on THIS MINUTE!!

This yarn is luscious – I’m usually an all natural fibre sort of girl, but this is lovely – shimmery and soft and drapey and silky. MMMMMM!

My husband may not understand me – but my blogpals certainly do!

I thought I should also do my Ins and Outs (as I don’t think I have done them for a couple of weeks). I might also point out that a certain amount of yarn and yarn related paraphernalia has sort of stuck to me this week.

IN

The aforementioned 12 balls of Patons wool tencel – mmmm!
5 skeins of Aracunia Ranco – 3 multi and 2 solid colours (one spring green and one cherry red) because Tapestry Craft were having a sale and sale yarn doesn't count and sock yarn doesn't count either and this would actually take me into negative stash territory!
My first Bendigo order arrived (yes, there is another one – what are you implying?) This consisted of Mystique in Seaspray, 3 lots of Neon – 5 balls berry and 5 of pink for a pinwheel jacket for the Princess, and 12 balls of Lagoon for me. And 4 balls of Rustic in Damson, just because.
1 ball Fleece Artist Somoko in Pinata
1 ball Hand Maiden Casbah in Rainforest, both courtesy of Master Enabler (it’s a rank, now – I just decided) Irene at the Jolly Jumbuck
1 beautiful Norah Gaughn asymmetrical Cardi in alpaca!! (Mine – yum)
2 tops for me – local Opshop,
3 pairs ¾ pants – Target sale
2 pairs shoes – (see previous post) off layby
6 balls discontinued Patonyle and 4 balls discontinued Heirloom sock yarn whose name momentarily escapes me
1 box of Top Kids magazines and children’s sewing patterns – from Taph
Various assorted clothes, toys and other Christmas stuff for children
2 pairs pretend reindeer antlers, wrapping paper and stocking stuffers from local cheap crap shop.
A lovely poem from Amy – look at the comments from my last post.

Gosh, that looks like rather a lot, doesn’t it?

OUT
Several parcel containing yarn, bits and pieces and some other things which went out for Christmas presents and some people with NO SELF CONTROL AT ALL have opened already! (But they did arrive at exactly the right time to assuage awful days, raise the dead, celebrate birthdays and generally make people feel good, so that’s OK)
2 bags of clothes and baby stuff – Lifeline
1 large pile of B grade children’s assorted artwork – either binned or re-cycled (the A grade is either on the fridge or in scrapbooks
Several bottles of wine (drunk and gone – does this count, because if it does I’ll put it in every week to make myself feel better, especially about the drinking!)

See? The In side of the ledger is ready to topple over and the Out side is getting leaner.

My New Year’s resolution is going to have to be:

I resolve I will not buy more yarn until I have made 5 pairs of socks and 10 jumpers – no more than 4 of which may be children’s jumpers. This does not apply to Sock club kits, massive specials on sock yarn, gifts of yarn and yarn bought for the production of gifts, providing said yarn is cast on for the project within one month of purchase.

Despite the No Guilt Stash Manifesto to which I subscribe, I must say the amount of yarn is rather overwhelming. Rather a lot of credit cardness has helped this along, so pulling back may be a good idea.

Zephyrama, the High Priestess of Stash, suggests that sock yarn doesn’t count as stash, sale yarn doesn’t count as stash, overseas yarn doesn’t count as stash, gift yarn doesn’t count as stash and single skeins don’t count either. This reduces my stash to a couple of kilos of Bendi and 12 large balls of gorgeous Jade bulky from TasKnits.

While the rules of stash may suggest I have very little stash – I still need somewhere to store the yarn which is not stash. I suggested the Accountant could move his suits out of the spare room wardrobe and he told me to get knotted.

My husband doesn’t understand me.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Shoesday + 1

I scored 97% on this test, but seem completely unable to paste it over while trying to leave a stupid dating service ad behind - so you'll just have to believe me and pop on over to Frog Ponds Rock to take the test yourself.

Well, as you can see, I am officially a Drunkard – did this little test a few days ago, courtesy of Frog Ponds Rock and discovered what I have suspected for a long time! Although I have been known to enjoy the odd wine, I actually think my knowledge came from years as a barmaid and cocktail waitress, as most of the drunks I know have no idea of the origin of their grog, they just like to drink it!

In honour of RoseRed and her telepathic powers, here for Shoesday + 1 are the shoes she made me buy – merely by thinking about it, 3 states away. It is still Shoesday somewhere in the world, I’m sure!


Aren’t they lovely – the heels look like kitten heels in profile, but are actually wide and they are really comfortable – the gorgeous little strap can go over your foot or behind your heel – I adore them and am seriously thinking that a pair in every colour would be a wise investment! Who said I was easily influenced!


This the front of my silk garden swing jumper (from the Ink Flared Sweater design at Black Dog Knits).

And this is the back. Although as they are both the same it is entirely notional and some days I may just feel like wearing fire colours, and simply turn it around!

And this was a gift from the lovely and blogless Jill. Norah Gaughns Asymetrical Cardigan from a Vogue Knitting (last year I think) in Bendigo Alpaca in Matrix. She actually knitted it for herself, was unhappy with the hang and gifted it to me!!! Aren’t I lucky – it really is exquisite, and although it currently isn’t alpaca weather, I predict much wear in Autumn and winter next year!

We are definitely in the Countdown to Christmas phase of the year. Today was the Playgroup breakup and visit from Santa. This provoked enormous excitement and a huge sugar overload! But everyone had a great time- and I wore my new shoes!

Sunday was circus in the park. The Princess performed admirably. As predicted all 10 small clowns forgot most of what they were meant to be doing – but they looked really cute and had such fun, it really didn’t matter! On the trapeze, the Princess remembered everything, and did it well, so was made much of. It was a lovely day out except for a little mild sunburn (despite me trying to slather lots on I must have missed 2 spots!) My fair Welsh skin will add more freckles – at present I hope to have escaped the rather attractive red and peel phase. I do not tan, and do not bother to try – I believe in hats, sunscreen and long sleeve shirts – but apparently can’t put sunscreen on unless in front of a mirror!

Friday is the last swimming lesson, next week is school breakup and picnic and then it’s really Christmas and summer. Just to put the icing on the metaphorical cake – the Princess is likely to be on the school float in our local Christmas Parade. She is quite beside herself and has to be sternly reminded about being good! The Christmas parade is usually the Saturday before Christmas but has been brought forward this year. It is at 6pm and is followed by a free community sausage sizzle and carols by candlelight in the local park. Lots of fun, and we are regulars (except when it rains).

Christmas and my hundredth post are both appearing on the horizon. I wonder which will strike first?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bearing Gifts We Traverse Afar......

I’ve been a little tied up recently (you can just stop thinking what you’re thinking, right now!). As you are probably already aware, the man in the (Coca-cola promoted) red suit (or if you’re into Victoriana, blue or green suit) is not far away. The Pre-Christmas frenzy of excitement is well and truly here.

I am basking in the virtuous glow of a woman who has done virtually all her Christmas shopping, posted all distant presents (one still needs to be posted – but it’s closer to home) and knows that goodwill and happiness will arrive in mail boxes soon.

I have not, as yet posted the overseas Christmas cards. Every year I swear I will do them in November and every year it doesn’t happen until I well and truly feel that Christmas is only just around the corner. How anyone manages to feel Christmassy enough in September to sea-mail cards, I have no idea.

Tasmania has been desperately dry – even here on the usually damp North West Coast, but the other night we had a belter of a thunderstorm and a most satisfying downpour and everything’s greened up again. My tomato plants are growing baby tomatoes, the herbs puffing away, local strawberries are on offer at the local fruit and veg shop, cherries should be ripe next week and raspberries can’t be far behind. I saw the first Australian grapes available at a price which didn’t involve selling my children to white slavers, and there’ll be mangoes for Christmas. Life (or at least, food) doesn’t get much better than this!

I have been working hard on editing Amy’s new book (which is just great and I am enjoying reading it as well as working on it – makes the job MUCH easier).

One or two things have slipped through on the yarn front – I did a swap with a fellow Raveller – some Rowan Yarn for a Rowan Studio book and was rather sucked into the vortex of gorgeousness generated by the Jolly Jumbuck. Some Fleece Artist Somoko sock yarn in Pinata, and some Hand Maiden Casbah in Rainforest seemed to have fallen into my hands.



I also have the most recent Red Bird Knits sock kit – which is in the loveliest yarn (I think I mentioned it last post – wool, silk, cashmere). I received a parcel from America containing a skein of Helen's Lace, for the purpose of knitting a Juno Regina Wrap (definitely the next Clapotis).

I also fell rather off the wagon because I put some Patonyle on layby at my local LYS and when I went to give them some money I slipped and fell onto some Zara being cleared and put that on layby too – in a dark forest green (10 balls) and a sort of eggplanty colour (10 balls). These have not actually entered the portals of my house yet, so they don’t count on my In/Out list!


I’m still waiting for my Bendi order (nearly 2 weeks ago), and I’m thinking I may be forced to do another order (before the sale finishes). I’ve been following a thread on Ravelry which insists that sale yarn, sock yarn, gift yarn and overseas yarn doesn’t count as stash. So by that logic, my stash has been reduced to about 2 kilos of Bendi in various forms. I feel much better now. It’s rather like the reasoning that broken biscuits and food eaten after midnight don’t count on diets (thanks for that tip, Ms 2Paw).

I had one dieting theory that food of the same colour had the same calorie count (but I’m not sure that was entirely true). Therefore, Top Deck chocolate had the same calories as mushrooms, green iced fairy cakes were the same as broccoli, white chocolate went with potatoes and red lollies worked the same as capsicum. As theories went, it wasn’t a bad one – unfortunately it bore about the same relationship to reality as the flat earth theory or ‘intelligent’ design.

I have almost finished the Silk Garden jumper – which looks lovely and I’m sure the Noro yarn must give obsessives who want to colour match their sleeves or the fronts and backs of their knitting conniptions. I enjoy the randomness – some of my balls had emerald and teal and some were only the fire/metal colours – one had several metres of the most glorious opalescent purple hiding. I tried to keep the balls with the emerald and teal for the front and sleeves and other than that made no attempt to match. I did check out a Noro group on Ravelry and one person spent ages turning her Noro into 36 perfectly colour matched balls, leaving aside some where no match was found.

I think I have too much going on in my life for that – I’m enjoying the fire colours living on the back of the jumper and the dashes of greens and purple on the front and sleeves – Gosh – I can’t control any aspect of my life right now – why on earth should knitting be any different?

Go with the flow, I say, go with the flow!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

It’s been extraordinarily busy around here, for some reason. Yes, you-know-what is on the horizon (altogether now, fingers in ears ‘Laalalalalaala’), but it’s really all the other things that go along with the end of the year and the end of the school year.

In the last week or so, we’ve had the election, we’ve had the Small Schools Sports Carnival (try saying that 3 times quickly, especially after a couple of glasses of wine – or summer evening G&Ts), where the Princess came second in the sack race and in the relay, was given a sticker for participating in the obstacle race and the running and everyone had a wonderful time. In 10 days we have the playgroup break-up and visit from Santa and before that the Circus show in the park – Princess will be in this – as a clown (it’s pretty funny just watching 10 five year olds try to do anything – they don’t even need to do anything overtly ‘funny’) and on a trapeze – yup – one term of circus school and she’s going to be on a trapeze – I will try and remember to take photos – I generally forget – I’m such a bad mother.

Yesterday, I ditched the editing and took the plastic kite from 2 dollar shop which ‘Santa’ left in a stocking last Christmas and has never been out of the packet and flew it outside. I ditched the editing (sorry, Amy), and ran outside and we flew the kite (it flew really well – let me recommend the crappy plastic kites which look like octopi and jellyfish to you), played ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’, swung the children dizzingly around in the air, spun them and chased them and generally had a great parenting time!!

We’ve also had swimming lessons and general madness (from the children – I just yell when the decibels reach unacceptable levels.). I have nearly all my postable Christmas presents ready to go, and have to write overseas Christmas cards to assure those people we only contact at Christmas that we are actually still alive. This means that they should be awake to the possibility that we will descend upon them at some unspecified future date and act like a plague of locusts, while lolling on their best furniture and asking them to peel grapes for us.

The In/Out/Shake it all about Challenge continues (in a scaled down form – but just you wait for a couple of weeks).

IN
3 Knitting mags – Interweave Holiday (Yes, it finally arrived), Simply Knits – with attached calendar and the new Vogue Knitting
I’ve already admitted to all the Op-shopping and the Lush package
A Rowan Studio brochure
A Red Bird Knits sock kit for November. This is absolutely gorgeous and consists of 2 balls of Lana Grossa Meilenwieit yarn – wool, silk, cashmere and polywhatsit. Yum!! And the pattern is great – highly textured and detailed – pop over to the website and check it out!

OUT
8 military books (eBay)
1 Parcel children’s clothes – eBay
1 box of china and stuff - Lifeline
1 magnadoodle – binned
1 Large pile children’s artworks (sshhh – recycled or binned depending on materials)

To prove that I am, indeed, the sad and tragic person the Accountant believes me to be, I acted in an uncharacteristically organised way yesterday. All day I’d had a really bad pain in my abdomen. ‘Goodness,’ I thought ‘What if it is appendicitis? I should do something.’ So I pulled out some sock yarn, matched it to appropriate patterns, popped each kit into a ziplock bag and all the bags either into a big project bag (4) or the downstairs stash cupboard (6). Into the project bag I also popped my knitting essentials bag – DPNs, darning needles, tape measure, scissors, etc. etc). This took around half an hour. At the end of that time, I looked around and thought, ‘There, if I need to go to hospital, I’m ready!’

The more perceptive of you may have noticed that here is no mention of underwear, toiletries or changes of clothes. That is because all I need for a hospital trip is KNITTING! Apparently.

To round out today, I would like to thank Raven from Trampled by Geese. She has nominated me for the Nice Matters Award – oi! You down the back – stop snickering – the Award is ‘for those bloggers who are nice people; good friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspirations. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world.’ Thank you so much Raven, I’m very honoured. I promise to use my awesome powers for good - and I'm really very chuffed that she thought about this blog that way. Thank you again!

I also get to nominate seven people for this award. Here they are, in no particular order.

Taph, for Unravelled. Her knitting for the homeless and efforts to declutter her life and live better are an inspiration;
Bells, cooking and knitting and inspiring all those people with the Southern Summer of Socks (especially the newbies we have caught in our (knitted) sock net)
Jejune for living her life caring for others
Rosered, for the SSoS and for initiating Shoesday (and sending me telepathic vibes forcing me to buy footwear
Alwyn, for her knitting lessons and philosophy and ‘can-do’ attitude
MadMad Housewife – for her sharp and witty take on life and always making me laugh
Nora, for sharing her aesthetic, and proving that a thing of beauty is a joy
And (because it’s always worth overdoing)
Happy Spider, because she inspires me and got me into this whole blogging thing anyway!

I’d love to nominate Raven back, but the rules say the love flows outward – so there you go – have fun with it!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

And the Country Goes To.............

Australia is like a brand new country today, and I am really tired. I’m glad Little Johnny is gone, I hated what he did to Australia. He took the worst facets of the Australian character and magnified them into ugliness. Our friendship with the USA was turned into an unholy alliance in Iraq, our pride was turned into the worst type of Jingoism, our self reliance into selfishness and our aspirations into greed. What was worse, he made those seem OK. He worked hard to deliberately do these things and worse, he wanted the electorate dumb and compliant, and with the help of the media moguls and commercial television, he got it.

I’m glad he’s gone, and I’m even gladder that he looks like losing his own seat, and being the second Prime Minister since Federation to do so. And for those who study history – Bruce, the Prime Minister in 1929 who lost his seat, also lost it over industrial relations – he tried to push through a constitutional amendment to get rid of the then Industrial Relations court and incipient commission and take the States’ Industrial powers. He lost the amendment, the election and his seat. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, eh?

I worked all day yesterday as an election official in charge of a polling booth. I work at a little school (60 students) in the country, with a fabulous principal and nothing but paddocks around. The school was having a working bee, a sausage sizzle and a cake stall. There were only 2 of us working in the booth, but lots of people around and kids playing. The booth is solidly Liberal, busy in the morning and at lunch time with farmers and workers and people dropping in on their way to sport and dancing. Same faces every time.

It’s 10 minutes from home (a good thing at 6.55 am for a 7am start!), it’s always quiet in the afternoon, and I always take my knitting and a book. I got lots of the swing jumper done, bought a carrot cake, some almond slice (yum!!) and some savoury pinwheels. The Accountant brought the kids up to visit and for a play and a picnic lunch. It’s a nice day – but very long. I got home around 9pm after the counting was finished and listened to the result in the car on the way home. It would be nice if the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate – I wonder if they could still stop the pulp mill going through?

The swing jumper is coming along nicely, as is the second secret sock. I have Bella in a project bag ready for lift off, and have ordered a teensy bit of Bendi wool (sales don’t count, do they?). I have also ordered some Helen’s Lace for Juno Regina – which I predict will be the next Clapotis, in terms of meme knitting (think Clapotis, think Monkey Socks, think Fetching and Dashing). You heard it here first!


IN

Pile of Top Kids magazines– Taph
Lots of kids clothes (attack of the Op-shops part 1,2 and 3)
2 tops for me
2 balls of Patonyle in a greeny sort of colour
4 balls of some Italian cotton that looked nice (it followed me home Mum, can I keep it?)
A big box from Lush – much of it for Christmas presents, lots for me – consider that I now have a year’s supply of soap, bubbles, shower jelly and gel and other bits and pieces
An apple spiral machine (for the kids, naturally)
A large gourmet cookware wok (gift from another de-clutterer)

OUT

Well, some gifts are ready to go – but they’ll go out next week and get reported at some future date
Tea cosy, 1 skein lovely yarn, 1 dishcloth, chocolate, tea and stuff (tea cosy swap pal)
Another 2 bags to lifeline
Another bag of Kids clothes on ebay

This was not a good week. I had an attack of the Oppies and ended up bringing in some stuff – mainly for children. There were sales at the up-market Red Cross shops this week, and the kids fared really well with designer clothes!

I ended up with 2 tops, and admit that I only really like one of them – so I am likely to re-cycle the second. I also bought a pair of gorgeous black linen pants which were to big for me, but they didn’t really touch down – passing through my hands and straight to another!

I have to go – I’m helping proof Amy’s latest book and have around 700 pages to go (in less than 2 weeks!!!!) No Pressure!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Benefits of Patience

What’s been happening at Casa Tinkingbell, you ask? Well not a great deal this week, is the answer. I’ve been travelling with dishcloths (tucked in the lovely bag for little projects given to me by the lovely Ms 2Paw), having a nice time knitting (then frogging and re-knitting) the swing jumper in Silk Garden. I must have rather expensive tastes, because I seem to love yarn which includes cashmere, silk, alpaca, or angora. It’s a good thing I haven’t actually laid hands on any qiviut or I’d be a completely lost cause.

The Silk Garden feels a little stiff on the hands while knitting, but makes such a gorgeous fabric and drapes so beautifully, and you just know it will soften on washing. The colours are lovely – I’m really looking forward to wearing this jumper.

I’m also planning my next Bendi raid – I intend to collect just a bit of stash before the sale ends, and there are one or two lovely things from the current Interweave I have my eye on. There are also, truth be told, things from the last 6 issues of Interweave which I want, but all in good time.

Ms Rosered has been having long distance telepathic effects on me – when I went to the supermarket (small local supermarket, not large national chain) I popped into the ladies wear section of the sister shop and ended up putting 2 pairs of shoes on layby). Very similar style and different colourways, but the last thing I should do!!

I am waiting for the new Knitpicks from Donyale. And for the election to be over. And for Christmas (once again, feel free to stick your fingers in your ears and go “Lalalalalalalala” is you are in a state of denial about that one). I’m waiting for the school year to end and for parties to begin. I’m waiting for holidays and summer and fresh berries and cherries and champagne and sunny days and beaches and barbies and feeling like sunshine and fresh air. And for picnics and excursions and summer clothes.



The de-cluttering continues:

IN

1 pair of Rivers clogs for Princess
1 pr Rivers clog mary janes for me
5 balls yummy yarn (destined for gifts)
1 Interweave Knits
1 Yarn magazine (sob!)
10 balls of Kureyon from Hong Kong
2 small Christmas presents for Santa to give to kids at playgroup
Equipment for Christmas presents (no specifics)
1 book from the market


OUT
1 pair of elderly bathers (yup – the third pair gone)
1 bra - binned
3 more pairs of knickers, elastic gone, binned
1 pair elderly shoes
3 bags of stuff for Lifeline
2 more boxes of books (Fete- at the last minute!)
1 tea cosy, 1 ball yummy wool, 1 dishcloth, other assorted goodies (tea cosy swap)
2 boxes for Lifeline – 1 of crockery and 1 of kitchen stuff

SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT
1 top recycled for use as a pajama top
3 pairs of tights turned into pois for Princess by cutting the legs off and inserting tennis balls in the toes - the remains will be used for holding up tomato plants!
1 dress recycled to the dressing up box!
5 little bits of leftover fabric recycled for dollhouse curtains and sheets

Still more stuff going out than coming in, and more yet to go!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just a little post - and a lot of photos (and some FOs)!




This is the view of the commercial iris farm at Table Cape on Tasmania's North West Coast. This farm grows tulips, irises and oriental (Christmas) lillies. The tulips are almost finished now and the lillies yet to bloom - but the irises would make Vincent Van Gogh swoon - and the smell is divine.


We had a day out a couple of weeks ago and went to visit the lighthouse here - the irises were merely a lucky bonus!






This is the parcel a lucky tea cosy swap pal will be receiving in a few days (Australia Post willing!).





This is a secret sock - I only have one so far and have just cast on for number 2. The design and pattern are being polished and will go off to a certain on-line knitting magazine in the next few weeks!


Here are 4 felted buttonhole bags. I think I may have mentioned that I love this pattern - less than 2 evenings knitting per bag, and then felting - all but one of these are destined for giftdom.





Here is the beginning of the second swing jumper from the lovely Black-Dog-Knits ink flared sweater design. I'm knitting it in Silk Garden and there is some turquoise in some of the balls - I'm saving them for the front) the other colours are fire and metal - bronze, copper, orange, gold, yellow, rust - yummy! The silk garden is lovely to knit with - I bought it from an American ebay shop and it feels both extravagant and luxurious to make a jumper from it!

Hope to have a proper post over the weekend (or Monday at the latest!). Enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Carnival is Over...



Well, the school fete is a thing of the past. The money has been spent by the punters, sorry, parents and raised for the school, the grounds are tidy, and the money counted. My feet are back to normal, and because the planning meetings are finished, my social life has been halved.

Because we were pretty well organised, rubbish-wise, there was very little litter. Much less than a rock concert or sporting event, probably a little more than a lawn bowls match. Easy clean up.

I have finished my tea cosy for the swap, and will get it away tomorrow or Wednesday (if I have the address). I have bought the Christmas presents which need to go overseas and may try to write overseas Christmas cards this week.

So last night, exhausted and footsore, I had to decide what to knit. Should I try to finish my travelling sock (ptooey!), cast on the second secret sock (with my brain?) or cast on the Silk Garden for another Swing Jumper – gorgeous simplicity, beautiful yarn, occasional counting? Guess which won? Yup, Silk Garden Swing Jumper it was. Lovely easy knitting on largish needles, beautiful yarn. Happy as a clam.

This morning I got to catch up on your lives and found that Amy had tagged me for this meme. So here are what I would laughingly describe as responses to these questions (read on – you may be tagged at the end!)

1. One person who made me laugh – Amy for making me do this meme after I had read it on everyone else’s blog and laughed because I hadn’t been tagged (Yarning to write is alphabetically last in my (mostly) daily blog check). Serves me right!
2. What was I doing at 0800? Making lunch for The Accountant to take to work and hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up for 3 more hours! Hey, I can dream!
3. What was I doing 30 minutes ago? Watching ‘Bear in the Big Blue House’ – What, you missed it? Well. The otters dressed up for Halloween, and Bear said we smelled like pumpkins……
4. What did I do in 2006? Isn’t it still 2006? AArgh..then um.. I can’t remember – Was a mother, did stuff – OOOHHHH yes – became obsessed with knitting after re-discovering it in May 2006 – see what knitting a little hat, then some mittens can lead you into? First it’s the soft stuff, mittens, hats, then it’s socks and finally, you’re into the hard stuff – lace knitting, subscribing to Interweave Knits. It’s a slippery slope, guys!
5. Last thing I said aloud? ‘What’s the rolling bounce thing?’ (It was the sofa – 3 minutes before that it was ‘NNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!’
6. Beverages? Only 1 latte so far, but I’m just about to make another one.
7. What colour is my hairbrush? Hairbrush coloured – sort of browny black, with fluff in it.
8. Last thing I paid for? 2 beanie kids, 2 showbags, entry to the fairy tent, 2 giant bubble wands, a yoghurt semolina cake and a small wood fired pizza. And he asks where the money goes!
9. Where was I last night? That would be home, exhausted after selling beanie kids at the fair and then helping clean up afterwards! (Besides, I have 2 small children – 5 and 3 – I’m home almost every night!)
10. Front door colour? Ox Blood red with etched glass and a light smattering of dust and cobwebs.
11. Where do I keep my change? In my wallet and the ashtray in my car – and in my children’s hot little hands!
12. What’s the weather like today? Sunshine, late spring, going to be 21 decrees Celsius (no idea in Fahrenheit) warm, slight breeze, sunny – fabulous!
13. Best ice cream flavour? Well, had lemon the other night, and a few nights ago had macadamia, caramel and toffee. Last night was ultra chocolate with cherry and yesterday at the fair was frozen raspberries and cherries smoooshhhedd through vanilla – they’re ALL my favourite – just not any combination of chocolate and mint. The other night on ‘The Cook and the Chef’ they made Halva, mint and pistachio ice cream – that could be a favourite. I like ice cream!
14. What excites me? Having 5 minutes to myself, a quiet house and time to knit. Or great wine, beautiful food and great company. My children on a good day, my husband and a picnic. Sun. Fresh air. Winter fires. Someone else doing the housework. My standards are low. Lots of things work.
15. I want to cut my hair? Nup – did that, growing it back long again – short hair needs too much work. Long hair just needs a brush and a big toothy clip thingy.
16. Am I over the age of 25? Dear me, I’m so far over that if I were a bit older I’d be talking about the blitz and how much worse things were during the depression and how kids today are…. Sorrry. I’ll stop now.
17. Do I talk a lot? Oh no, reticent, quiet, obedient, that’s me. Oh alright – never stop, chat to children, dogs, cats, chickens and occasional adults if they don’t get out of range in time. I’m practicing to be one of those people who corners you on buses and in places you can’t escape from and talks at you about my operations and children and what the voices tell me to do. Ye Gods, I could talk for Australia, and if they’d make it an Olympic sport I could say I was in training!
18. There seems to be no 18
19. Do I know anyone named Steve? Lots of them, in most variations, Steven, Stephen, Steve and Stefan.
20. Do I make up my own words? I certainly do, and if I can’t invent one, then I turn to Douglas Adams and ‘The Meaning of Liff’, because he’s got a whole stack of great ones in there.
21. Am I a jealous person? About family, yes. About anything else, not really – I see it as an opportunity to learn from people better/different from me – think rivalry, and occasionally, gentle envy.
21. Name a friend who starts with the letter A. Amy – she made me do this, it’s only fair she’s named in it.
22. Name a friend who starts with the letter K. My sister in law, Kaye – we all adore her.
23. Who’s the first person on my ‘Received Calls list? That requires a cell phone which actually gets turned on.
24. The last text message I received? See above.
25. Do I chew on my straw? I don’t think so – I would however, try to knit it.
26. Do I have curly hair? Boo Hoo – no I don’t, but wish I did and the proof is a series of bad perms. Now I just live with straightish, slightly wavy, boring hair.
27. Where’s the next place I’m going to? Kitchen for coffee, then laundry for washing then outside to the clothesline….should I go on?
28. Who is the rudest person in my life? My children, hands down. Tact and diplomacy are foreign countries to them
29. What was the last thing I ate? A piece of organic wholemeal toast with berry jam. In a better life it would have been eggs Benedict with chilled champagne and fresh peaches and raspberries and grapes. Bah, humbug!
30. Will I get married in the future? Certainly not. Far too much effort, I’ll stick with the one I married last time, thanks.
31. The best movie I’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? Pan’s Labyrinth (again) And ‘The Princess Bride’ (Again to the nth power)
32. Is there anyone you like right now? My family, my friends and blogpals, and I’m a bit inclined to like Eduardo Verastegui. This is Nora’s fault. Take it up with her.
33. Did I cry today? Not yet, but the kids are working on it!
34. Why did I answer and post this? Because Amy tagged me and I’m a good person who does what I’m told. And if you believe that, have I got a deal for you…. No, I got tagged and thought it would be fun.
35. Tag 5 people I would like to see do this survey. Well…..
Ms Trampled by Geese

Ms Mad, Mad Housewife

Bells

Knights-Don’t-Knit

Ms 2Paw,

and Rosered (because anything worth doing is worth overdoing!)

I'm sure they'll have fun!
That’s it for today. I’m off to put the washing out and play with kids and roll in my stash. No, clean the house – ha – got you – of course I’m not going to clean the house! We’re going to play outside and get covered in grass stains!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Avoiding your Fete

Well, the In, Out, Shake it all about challenge is still going (I’m looking forward to Christmas, because there are likely to be far more ‘Outs’ than ‘Ins’ and I refuse to count anything that comes in as presents for the children, but in the interests of fairness I will count everything that comes in for me – I have a slightly unfair advantage here, being married to a man who is crap at presents. The Accountant is very busy and hates shopping – I received NO PRESENTS AT ALL FROM HIM FOR MY 45TH BIRTHDAY – nothing, nada, zip – This has remained on the score sheet since my birthday back in January and will remain an unspoken threat until and unless he redeems himself at both Christmas and my next birthday – and possibly for a decade or so afterwards).

IN

Knitting patterns – a pile from my step mother – some may be passed on to a certain collector, but I’m not sure many are in good enough condition!
2 pairs trousers for me (op shop)
2 tops for me (op shop)
2 Knitting books (Vogue ultimate knitters book and Knitting on the edge – Yarns Online sale)
Package from Yarnbow (shhhh – it’s a secret)
Another package from the USA (Sssh)
1 Filati knitting mag (because it was there!)
1 pair shoes each for Destructo Boy and the Princess
2 DVDs (Desperate Housewives –ohh alright it’s a boxed set –picky, picky – and Bridge to Terebithia)
10 balls Anchor Magicline, 2 balls Jet, 1 10mm circ – Doomlight of Spot
3 presents – lovely 2paw
Present for sponsored child in Philippines
Some other Christmas related items which we will speak of later
DVD Veronica Mars series 1


OUT

3 boxes books
1 bag stuff for Lifeline
1 bag of WeeNees nappies – Lifeline
2 bags childrens clothes - sold on ebay
1 pair favourite shoes – binned (sniff, sob)
2 elderly pairs of bathers – mine – now binned (stretched, no longet even resembling my shape – not that there’s a lot to resemble!)
3 large bags of plastic bags – School Fete for packing


SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT
Not much here except for some cotton socks with holes which have become dusters. You put your hand inside and they’re great for corners and skirting boards – even better when damp!

We had the last Fete meeting last night and will spend Saturday setting up, Sunday at the Fete (starting at 7.30am – My Lordie!!) and today was Princess’s swimming lesson. Apart from one or two mad panics and related thrashing and screaming, she went very well.

I have pointed out to my co-workers on the Fete that I am not good at mornings. I think I have mentioned before that I am a bad sleeper. I have had very little sleep for the last 4 nights and I always seem to get my best sleep between about 6 and 7am. This hour is precious to me, and the thought of having to give up most of it for the shower – dress – make-up – breakfast ordeal that will be Sunday morning is a less than delightful prospect!

Once the Fete is over I will also have lost my main method of disposing of crap – sorry, of my de-cluttering operation. I’m rather concerned that I will also have lost the impetus – that I had to get boxes of stuff out of the house by a certain date. I hope not.

In knitting news, I have finished the fourth buttonhole bag and tonight will cast on for a tea cosy. If I get this finished in 2 evenings – which I hope I will, although I realise that this is tempting the Knitting Goddess, I will cast on my second secret sock (or possibly the Silk Garden Jumper depending on my mood!).

So much knitting, so little time!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stash, Joy and Instant Gratification!

I adore instant gratification. In fact, sometimes even instant gratification takes too long! But currently I am in the midst of gift knitting – a situation necessitated by the fact that Christmas is not actually very far away (cowardly readers, please put your fingers in your ears now and go ‘LaLa La la alalalalalalalalala’ for the rest of this post). Others, read on for some ideas.

Firstly, can I recommend to you the fabulous Buttonhole Bag from Mason-Dixon Knits. It takes around 3 hours to knit one (I’m currently on my fourth in a week!). It is deeply satisfying and the Lamb’s Pride Bulky that I bought on sale at Yarns Online much earlier this year (supposedly for slippers and stuff) has met its destiny in a series of bags. I haven’t felted them yet (but intend to in a few days), but have felted the Lamb’s Pride before and feel fairly confident doing so again.

Unfortunately, I’ve used up all my stashed Lamb’s Pride Bulky (although I have some worsted left) and am finishing of the last bag with 3 strands of Jet knitted together. I may have to buy some Cascade bulky or knit smaller bags with different wool and smaller needles – a 10mm circ is hard to beat for fast knitting!

So I have managed to denude some stash wool and obviously feel deeply virtuous about this. In addition to the bags, I am knitting my third dishcloth/facecloth in a week. Although the first one used the feather and fan pattern, the next two I have returned to my simple basketweave pattern.

Basketweave dishcloth:

1 ball Anchor Magicline Cotton
4mm circ

Cast on a multiple of 4 stitches (I generally find 52 is about right).
Knit 4 rows
Next row (establish pattern). Row 1: K4 *P4 K4* repeat until last 4 sts, K4
Row 2: K4, *K4, P4 * repeat to last 4 sts K4 (PS This works for 48 or 56 sts – if you decide on 52 you’ll just have to adapt)
Repeat once more, then rep Row 1 again (5 rows pattern)
Now Change to second basketweave. Other than the 4 sts each end which are always knitted (garter stitch border), you’ll be knitting the purls and purling the knits, so

Row 1: K4, *K4, P4 * repeat to last 4 sts, K4
Row 2: K4, *P4 K4* rep to last 4 sts, K4

Once again, rep these rows then row 1 again

Keep doing this, switching every 5 rows until either you get sick of it, or you’re nearly out of cotton. Then Knit 4 rows and cast off. Try to leave enough of a tail to crochet in chain stitch for about 2-3 inches (5-7cms), join up to make a ring and weave in ends. That’s it, you’ve made a dishcloth with a little loop for hanging up!


I’m making stacks of these as my travelling knitting currently. I stick the ball in my pocket – having centre pulled it – and knit. If I need to I run the stitches to the centre of the circ and stick that in my pocket too, whenever I have to do motherly stuff.

I knocked one of these off during some driving on Monday (no, I was a passenger – I haven’t yet perfected the art of knitting while actually driving the car – although I’m pretty good at knitting and walking!), and finished it off while spending an hour selling raffle tickets for the school fete.

The Fete has rather taken over my life, and I will be glad on Sunday evening when it’s all over. While I am happy to do its public relations and write copy for papers and radio stations, I’ll be even happier when I get those bits of my life back. And if I think it’s bad for me, I don’t think the P & F President has slept for a month!

In addition, once the last bag is finished (I’ll be sad when I give them away), I’ve a tea cosy to knit (for the swap) and the second secret sock to finish. By which time it will be the election and I’ll be working all day – this means knitting time!

Then it’s almost Christmas and proper summer and I can do some recreational knitting for a while!





Just before I forget, the No Guilt Stash Manifesto has been adopted in Casa Tinkingbell! If I can’t get the button to work, pop over to Bells to read the manifesto!

No Guilt Stash Manifesto


I will neither defend nor apologize for my stash. My yarn brings me joy, and therefore brings others in my life joy.

Through my hands I do good in the world. I knit with love for friends, family, and strangers. Yarn is my medium.

I promise not to let my stash acquisition interfere with personal relationships or financial health; yet neither will I give in to pressure from significant others to reduce my stash.

I will not judge others' stash. I can admire it, be inspired by it, even covet certain skeins, but it is not my place to pass judgment on quantity or quality.

I recognize that stash management is personal. I fully intend to knit my beautiful yarns, but I refuse to be guilted into doing so on anyone's schedule other than my own.

I understand that it may take many years for a yarn to reveal its destiny, and that yarns that have been in my stash for a seemingly long time just haven't met their correct pattern. I won't feel guilty about this.

I also recognize that yarn can have many destinies. It can be a reminder of a special trip, a friend, a time in one's life. It can be comfort or inspiration. It doesn't always need to be knitted to fulfill its destiny. I accept that some yarns in my possession may never be knit by me.

I believe in the karmic properties of stash. I willingly share with other knitters, and I realize the stash, like love, will grow when it is shared.

Friday, November 2, 2007

How Many Shopping Days Till Christmas?

Well, those Saturdays just keep on rolling around, don’t they – how many Saturdays are left till Christmas (not counting today)? Six, that’s how many – six!

Now I mentioned my problem with times stealers before – so whoever has around 3 months of my year, confess now, and I’ll be lenient!

Yup, six Saturdays till Christmas – and only 1 till the school fair. On the other hand, that’s only 10 Saturdays until I get my first Blue Moon Fibre (sorry, Fiber) Arts Rockin’ Sock Club kit!!

That’s right – the RSC for 2008 will have me attempting to keep up with kit knitting! Given that my Sock club kit knitting performance has been fairly dismal to date (Red Bird kits: 3; Tinkingbell knitting said kits - 0 ), this may be a little bit of a challenge!

But I am very excited about this – given that I begged and pleaded with them for 6 months or so, sending ever more plaintive emails – think of me as a pity membership!

The other even more exciting news was my meeting with Ms 2Paw in the flesh (for some reason my keyboard had 3 tries at making that ‘in the fleas’!) She is, of course, absolutely lovely and remarkably kind and composed in the face of a full scale onslaught by the monsters – sorry, delightful small children. We chatted, chatted and chatted (see? A Yarn of knitters?), discussed books and dogs and slipped in the odd knitting related comment.



It was a lovely time and I hope to repeat the experience very soon. (She, of course, may not be so keen, given the general rambunctiousness of said children!). As an example of her graciousness, she had made presents for us – The Princess received a beautiful bag (she is still trying to find the perfect contents for it and had to be restrained from shoplifting to fill it), gorgeous chickens for Destructoboy, which he has decided to share with the Accountant, and a lovely (and sparkly) Christmassy sock project bag – who couldn’t love so talented a blogpal?

I also slipped into the Doomlight of Spot and overdosed ever-so-slightly on Anchor Magicline, which was $1.00 a ball (note to self – everyone gets dishcloths – again!)

Before bed last night (and especially due to a couple of hours of driving), I actually have 2 finished objects – one finished (but as yet unfelted) Buttonhole Bag (gift) and what I believed whiule I was knitting it, to be a dishcloth, but is actually, I am informed, a face washer for the Princess.



You really can’t pick it, can you? Sometimes objects just have their own destiny.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot....

Well, the votes are in and most people preferred ‘a stash of knitters’, but there was some feeling out there for a ravel of knitters.

I was surprised that we all missed the obvious one – a yarn of knitters. This would work 2 ways (considering that most of us are, um, somewhat loquacious). We could also be a skein of knitters – so that would work, too.

Currently we have an old friend of mine staying for a few days. The Director and I have been friends since I was in Kindergarten and he was in grade 2. He is good looking, articulate, straight, witty, funny and a great cook. He is single.

His is also, I should point out, highly sought after, but rebuffs advances. He likes his urban life just the way it is. When he needs rural recreation he visits us and gardens. He weeds and prunes, mows and digs up thistles. The children adore his visits and he copes very well with small people following him around. We drink red wine and eat nice food. My husband gets on really well with him. In fact, on both occasions I was in hospital having children the Director came to stay and he and the Accountant went out for dinner and drank rather a lot of red.

This got me thinking about long relationships. Up until my 20s I complained that most of my relationships only lasted around 6 months (with a couple of exceptions which went on much too long!). Then I realised that I was too focussed on boy/girl love/romance relationships and that I wasn’t terribly good at those.

What I was good at was friendships. I put work into friendships. I had a number of friendships that had lasted decades. Many of my friends had been that way since I was 4, 5 or 6. They definitely outlasted romances. They also overcame living in different states and countries, they outlasted marriages (on their side, not mine). They outlasted fashion disasters, the sixties, seventies and eighties,nineties and noughties, careers and studies.

These friendships were both male and female. They were substantial and dynamic. A gap of a few years made very little difference to the quality of the relationship.

On one occasion, I hadn’t seen an old friend for more than 10 years. We slipped back into the friendship with no change in tempo – it was as if one of us had popped out for some milk.

These are not static friendships. They contain no competition (although there is occasionally friendly rivalry). They have no problem with different interests or priorities, even different politics. The wax and wane sometimes, but have remained the lodestone of my life. I value these friendships.

So while I am still pretty hopeless at romance, the Accountant and I started off as friends, then became best friends and then the romance followed. We are still best friends, but there’s always room for more friends, old and new.

So after all that, I am pretty good at relationships. They just weren’t the ones I was thinking of!

Monday, October 29, 2007

You put this bit in, you take this box out....

Hurrah for declutteration!!

I am feeling like a de-cluttering powerhouse today!!! Hurrah for our school fair and its white elephant stall - I am supplying white, blue yellow and polka dot elephants at present!


IN:

Well - the ins are always with us!

The Shoes (see yesterday's post)
A top for me
4 balls of Anchor Magic line cotton I forgot to fess up to last week!
10 balls babysilk cashmere (Prestige yarns sale)
400gr Bendi mango Cotton
600gr Bendi Rustic green
Some Spidey yarn
3 sewing patterns from Taph


OUT:

Portacot - sold
Baby backpack - sold
Pram - sold
4 bags childrens clothes - sold on ebay
1 bag clothes - Lifeline
6 boxes crockery and glassware (around 150 items)- donation
1 large moving box kitchen gear (around 80 items or more) - donation
1 large box books - donation
12 lipsticks - old and colour strange and dried out - binned
4 chipped plates - binned
1 vase - broken - I wasn't going to fix it - despite past protestations - binned

I'm not even going to count them up, because this week the 'OUTS' are certainly out weighing the 'INS'

I'm feeling better already!

I'm so pleased that Taph put me onto this challenge. Its a wonderful thing and I feel better with every box and bag that leaves the house. I'm also much more conscious of what's coming in to the house, and tend to check with myself whether we really need something - or I just want it!

On that note, I'll point out that Bendigo Woollen Mills is having a sale until December!! Also, that Meaghan at Yarns Online is having a book sale. The Prestige Yarns sale continues.

You have been warned!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tinking of Knitters? A Purl of Knitters?



Just thought I’d get a head start on Shoesday! Found these in the local op-shop, never worn, $4! Red, Rosered, Red! That makes 4 pairs of red shoes in the last 2 months or so, a personal record! So why on earth am I wearing my aging green crocs today? I have no idea. Excuse me while I change!

The 7 things challenge reached a bit of a crescendo this weekend! I’ll put in my updates tomorrow – but a large chunk of the weekend was spent unwrapping stuff, looking at it and re-wrapping it and placing in boxes for the white elephant stall. I even managed to part with some books – more next weekend, I hope.

I have difficulty parting with books – even books I don’t like. The 2 exceptions to this were ‘Chung Quo’ which was so sexist and violent that I heaved it into a bin and the first Traci Harding book which I felt was lazy, poorly proofed and badly edited. That got heaved into a bin somewhere in Ireland (so disappointing when you hate your holiday reading). While backpacking through South East Asia in the 1980s I used to take James Clavell books – weighty, but a high swap value – and interesting to read. However, I met 2 favourite books in Singapore and refused to part with them – Mark Helprin’s ‘A Winter’s Tale’ and Raymond Feist’s ‘Magician’ – about 3 months before it reached Australia. I refused to part with them and carted them through Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

However, today’s post is not really about books. It’s really about collective nouns. I am a great collector of collective nouns – I love them. They’re a peculiarly English language thing, and a great drunken party game. You’ll remember some:
A gaggle of geese
A dabble of ducks
A murder of crows
A bumble of bears
An exaltation of larks
An unkindness of ravens
A shrewdness of apes
A sulk of foxes
A pride of lions, and so on.

The Princess's school diary has a whole page of these things – and I just love them. There are hundreds of these, and a favourite game after a few drinks is to invent new ones. (Yes, we are nerdy, Arabella, but someone has to be.)

Some of ours are
A corruption of politicians (sometimes changed to a headline of politicians)
An argument of lawyers
A plunger of plumbers
A shortness of jockeys
A rate of councillors
An investigation of police
A perseverance of farmers, and so on

Invent your own. A fun game for the whole family! Costs nothing!

So what are we? A tinking of knitters? A purl of knitters? Please not a frog of knitters? A whoredom of stashers? A spindle of dyers? A niddy noddy of spinners? A colour of dyers? What do you think?

Thinking of the lucky ducks that went for a road trip to Waratah fibres got me thinking about this. That and the fact that I still haven’t finished the mystery sock!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sox, Sox, Sox - Is That All You Ever Think About?





Well, sometimes - but I also think about shawls and jumpers and jackets and cardis and hats and patterns .....

It's hard to explain to a muggle (especially a muggle husband) the true, pure joy of knitting. The fact that the knitting itself is great and so is the giving or wearing of an item you made, with your hands. This creation is a very primal thing, I think.

I imagine that anyone who creates anything feels a surge of pride that their hands and minds have created this beautiful thing.

I have a bent (enough sniggering down the back) for creating useful, functional and sometimes wearable items. As a potter, I specialised in ware, that is, things which people could use to eat or drink from, or to serve food and drink. I admired those who specialised in sculpture or 3 dimensional art pieces, but that was not where my skills or inclination lay. I have sewn and enjoyed it (although since the advent of children, my sewing machine has not had much of a workout!), and I love to cook (but not clean, as you already know!).

I love to create things, and that was my one problem with my academic career. Although I am the proud holder of several degrees, the problem with academic life is that for all the work you put in, you don't always have anything really tangible to show for it. You have words, or reports, or project notes, and although in the hands of a poet or writer words can be beautiful and revolutionary, in the hands of an academic essayist or researcher, that is not usually the case. Your academic words may change the world, but they are rarely as beautiful or fulfilling as the things you make with your hands.

Mind you, it's still miles better than any words I wrote back in the dark days of working for the public service, specifically in the CES (Commonwealth Employment Service, for those of you too young to remember this institution)!

Knitting not only allows me to create beautiful object which I enjoy wearing and giving, but it also allows me to exercise my mind (all that maths and creative visualisation), and to design. My first ever socks design is on the needles and is working really well at present (small break for sacrifices and libations for Knitting Goddesses).

I have posted my first completed socks on the SSS blog and am working on the second pair - don't expect close-ups though - if they work I'm aiming for my first knitty.com rejection!

Ins and Outs and Shake it all abouts:

A better week this week than last! The de-cluttering fairy has been helping me this week!

IN:

3 balls Jet, 3 prs knitting needles, fridge magnets and plastic table cover stuff - from the Doomlight of Spot!
3 balls yarn for my tea cosy swap
1 swift and ball winder (courtesy of the lovely Donyale)
1 top, 1 girl's dress, 2 bamboo handles, 2 doll's dresses (op-shop)
1 layby paid off (stocking stuff for children - 4 boys t-shirts
3 books knitting patterns (gift in from stepmother!)

OUT
1 pair shoes (gift)
1 large bag clothes (op shop)
1 bag hats and toys (child care centre)
4 bags children's clothes (ebay)
1 cot (sold)
1 car seat (sold)
25 kg of walnuts (sold)
1 book (gift)
4 pairs girls shoes (gift)

The work continues - I hope to have several boxes leaving the house this weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Love Paris in the Springtime... (NO, Not THAT Paris!)

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.


It's interesting, because Paris along with Florence and Rome, is one of my favourite cities. I have always found the Parisians friendly and polite (don't laugh) with one exception. Perhaps it's because I'm an Australian and they really don't think that Australians should speak French, or perhaps because my cookbook and Ballet French is so laughably bad that they thought I was.. ummm... intellectually challenged and they had to be nice to me! Regardless, I've always had a great time in France - in Nice we met a restauranteur who had spent time in Australia who kept bringing out the GOOD wine while we chatted, and on another occasion I couldn't remember the address of our hotel and we went round and round and round and round the Pigalle roundabout in a taxi with the meter turned off while the patient taxi driver waited until I remembered what the street looked like! (I did incidentally, otherwise I would still be there!)

Ahh, Paris, City of food - and shoes! I'd like to go shopping with Rosered in Paris - I think we could scare any shoe shop owner into submission!

Here is the finished Juno!!



Although I did block it by steaming it, I have had to wash it properly, because the wool has a very strong dye smell, and I wanted to get rid of it! I love it - despite the miles of 2x2 rib and the miles and miles and miles of not 4 (because I was obviously stunned) but 6 interlacing cables and 2 extra baby cables on each side!

I have also almost finished the tulips socks and have the invention socks ready to start and all the materials for my tea cosy swap ready to go! It's knitting central here, guys!

Due to being harrassed by a small and very loud boy (who'd have thunk it!) This is only a short blog - have to collect the Princess from school and hear all about the kindergarten trip to a wildlife park - including local examples, plus exotica such as Tyson the Bison! Pray for me!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Every Home Should Have One...


Okay. Please admire this. (Shoe is for scale). This is Juno’s collar. It is finished, but unblocked (as you probably noticed). This is my first ever attempt at cables and I did nearly 6 freaking feet of them – four intertwined lines, edged with four more lines.

It looks like this when you get closer.



I can’t believe the sheer scale and gorgeousness of what I have created. I am continually impressed by the amazement of knitting. By the way – if you see any mistakes (I know there is one stitch in there that is not doing what it is supposed to and I’ve decided to live with it because it was 2 feet from the end when I saw it!), I don’t want to know – really, I don’t. (You don’t see any, do you – because – well I’d just have to cry at you and then we’d both be embarrassed and I look so awful when I cry – you know how it is – drippy, swollen, red nose – what do you mean you can’t see any difference from the way I look normally? I’m going to cry!)
.
I like to think of that stitch as the deliberate imperfection included by a knitter. Japanese master potters always marred their work slightly, introducing a deliberate imperfection to make their work human, and to not challenge the gods. Every time we packed a kiln, someone would do something that made them bleed (accidentally, not on purpose – though if there had been no blood….), and we always considered that a sacrifice to ensure the firing went smoothly.

That misplaced stitch is my sacrifice. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



On a different note, I thought I’d include this photo of the incredibly originally named Blue Lake. The colour has not been touched and it is a very grey day – isn’t that the most gorgeous aqua you have ever seen? Apparently the white clay at the bottom of the lake reflects the sky, but if that is so, by my reckoning the water ought to be a drab grey with dark grey overtones.

I have a theory. I have decided that the world consists of two types of people (stop me if you’ve heard this before). The first type is the instruction reader. When they receive a new appliance or gadget, they open the box, remove the instructions, read them from cover to cover, acquainting themselves fully with the device and its controls. They ensure they understand its quirks and the expected outcomes and results. Only when this process is complete, will they unpack the appliance or gadget, carefully removing all components from the box, assemble it and turn it on. My husband is this type of person.

The second type receives a gadget, rips the box open, whacks it together and turns it on. They may mutter things like ‘Yup – this bit goes here’ and ‘I wonder what that is for?’. They may occasionally look at the picture on the outside of the box – just a glance to check that it looks roughly right. They will refer to the instruction manual if, and only if, the device will not work, breaks down, or makes a peculiar noise. I am this type of person.

In 1998, we bought a 6 year old, second hand BMW. The Accountant had coveted a BMW since he was a teenager, and now he owned one (in both our names, of course). He read the 240 page manual from cover the cover several times, making sure he really understood this piece of German engineering perfection. Then he told me I wasn’t allowed to drive it until I read the manual. I didn’t drive the car for nearly a year. I still haven’t read the manual – I just waited him out.

I thought about this again yesterday, when a friend rang to ask if the Accountant would chauffeur her eldest son to his Grade 10 School Leavers’ Dinner. In Tasmania, you finish high school in grade 10 – except in some private schools which offer classes to grade 12. Grades 11 and 12 are offered at matriculation colleges, on separate campuses and with entirely different rules to high schools. They generally don’t require a school uniform and have a more relaxed attitude to pupils coming and going from school property.

They were originally designed as a bridge to the independence of university. Now they mainly exist to keep kids off unemployment lines and try to get them to stay at school until they’re 18. Tasmania has the lowest rates in Australia of school retention to grade 12, mainly due to this system.

But, back to the Leavers’ Dinner. I remember when this couple started dating. I remember when the son was born – the Accountant and I have been together longer than he has been in the world. This is a sobering fact – or perhaps the sort of fact which requires drunkenness – I’m still working on that one. Of course he can arrive in the BMW.

There is a tradition of arriving in exotic transport for these dinners. Rich parents have supplied helicopters and limousines. Inventive parents and children have used enormous trucks, tractors, horses (with and without carriages) and all types of cares – from the sublime (beautiful vintage cars) to the ridiculous (tuktuks and gogomobiles). It’s all part of the fun.

So he will get the BMW. He’s just got to clean it first!

Monday, October 15, 2007

In and Out and In-Between

I am nerdier than 62% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!




Well, the de-cluttering fairy has certainly been giving MY place a miss this week!



IN
(Just been to the op-shop)

Lovely lined straw tote with bamboo handles
Stone coloured linen skirt
Overnight bag for Princess
Gorgeous fine wool purple Country Road jumper (going straight out again – gift for stepmother)
2 balls of gorgeous sock yarn – not from op – shop – from ebay
Turkish drop spindle
Addi turbo needle
6 bamboo buttons for Juno



OUT


2 balls sock yarn – sold on ebay
10 items children’s clothing - sold on eBay
The appalling cone winder of doom – sold on ebay
1 box assorted stuff – school fete white elephant stall
1 bag clothes etc – Lifeline (I buy so much from them, it’s only fair I replace it sometimes!)
Gorgeous purple jumper see above (gift)


In – 9 items (counting buttons as 1)
Out -16 items
Just made the 7 things this week – will have to do better for next week!

Now, speaking of obsession – I forgot to mention some incredibly telling signs of obsessions (yes, yes, they do all apply to me, and, I’m extremely glad to say, to most of you too. In fact, it’s very telling that most of you didn’t turn a hair when reading the list, which only goes to show that we may have a teeny, weeny problem here, Houston).

You may have an obsession if:

- you visit the Jansz winery, which specialises in champagne style saparkling wines (take THAT, appellation controllee). You try the yummy wines. You buy some yummy wines. You buy a bottle of the expensive vintage sparkling champagne-y wine (hah!! Appellation Controlleee). Your very first thought is’ Look at the great packaging for that bottle – my knitting needles will fit in that lidded tube beautifully!’


- you are still trying to work out a method of knitting while asleep


- you are evangelical in your pursuit of non-knitters


- many of your non-knitting friends have begun to get a glazed, yet hunted, look in their eyes when you speak to them of knitting. Nevertheless, you are sure that if you could only explain the excitement to them properly they would take up your standing offer of lessons and learn to knit.


- you drink the vintage champagne-y sparkling wine and, guess what – the needles fit in the tube brilliantly.

One of our Canadian friends didn’t understand the Catweazle reference in my post from a few days ago. Catweazle (for the un-initiated, and those below a certain age (pah)), was a BBC children’s series from the 1970s, starring Geoffrey Bayldon, about an inept Medieval magician and alchemist who is transported to the 20th century, and his adventures in the 1970s. He tended to fizz and pop when confronted with modern technology, become addicted to bananas and adored ‘Electrickery!’ People of a certain age (yes, yes, alright, ME!) still giggle and use that term.

Mind you, I STILL think faxes are magic – you put a drawing in one end, and out it comes in Hong Kong or Murmansk (or both if you have my fax!). Remarkable invention, and much spiffier than teletypes.

Technology and I are old foes despite my nerd rating– my computer keyboard, for example, has swapped the AT and the “. I have to think every time I type in my email address and go for the quotation mark key, and not the ‘at’ key. In time, this will become habitual, and whenever I use a properly working keyboard, I will get them mixed up and have problems with everyone’s email address.

On a more selfish note, ignore everything Donyale said about sales at a certain yarn shop. I’m sure they’re not really having one. Stay away. You won’t like the yarn. Truly. Bound to be awful. Itchy. Splitty. Really. Please don’t buy all the things I want before I can get there!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You Might Be An Obssessed Knitter If.......

Yup. You might be obsessed when:

- you decide on your projects and pack them first for a trip

- you take 4 knitting projects, despite the fact you’re only going away for 2 nights (after all, there’s quite a lot of driving involved)

- you visit a new town. You visit the thrift shops – and ask if they have yarn. Or patterns. You look for yarn shops. You visit the only craft shop in town. It has one small stand of Patons wool in a very large space. They stock Country, Baby, Jet and Patonyle sock yarn. You actually stand there thinking about buying some – despite the fact that your stash is greater than the GDP of Outer Mongolia and you don’t use much Patons. Your stash is WAAAAAYYYYY bigger than this entire yarn stock.

- you go out to dinner, drink lots of red wine and attempt to design and knit a lace pattern in kid mohair. After spending the night knitting, you have to frog the lot, but YOU FEEL OK ABOUT THIS!

- you finish a sock, but have forgotten darning needles for grafting. You work out a method of grafting which takes another, finer double pointed needles and three times as long. It works. You are happy about this.

- you get five minutes of quiet time all to yourself. You use this time to tink back 4 rounds on a sock to where the count went funny, instead of relaxing or drinking wine.

- you wake in the middle of the night, in a strange room, and can’t get back to sleep. You spend the rest of the night working out 2 sock patterns, a reversible scarf pattern and a blog entry for when you get home.

- you miss your pattern books

- you worry about what blogpals have been doing while you haven’t been watching

- your queue of ‘want to knit this’ is so long that you are unlikely to make much of a dent in it before your 70th birthday. You feel OK about this.

- your stash has become so large that it now lives in 3 places. You seriously consider moving out all the sheets and towels in the walk in linen press, just so all your stash can be together

- you see a new sock yarn. You become rather anxious because you realise all the sock yarn in the world can’t be yours.

- you see a gorgeous DPN kit. You begin to scheme about ways to obtain one.

- your blog pals and fellow knitters occupy the first places on your Christmas list.

- you look forward to fellow knitter’s birthdays and Christmas, because you get the joy of buying yarn without actually adding it to your stash

- there are very few waking moments when knitting doesn’t occupy your thoughts. It is occasionally supplanted by thoughts of children and food. And wine. And books. But not as often as would be healthy.

- you wonder how this obsession crept up on you – but you aren’t all that bothered.


We had a road trip at the weekend, up to the North East of our beautiful state. We visited the town of the Accountant’s childhood and looked at the house where he lived. We drove about. We went to Mt William National Park and saw wombats and Bennett’s wallabies with joeys in their pouches. We went to the place I camped on a trip with the girls many years ago (it’s still a very nice spot and right on the beach).

We went out to a very nice dinner. Our waitress was a knitter. She liked my socks. It was a lovely break, except for the fact the weather was very windy and wet and quite cold. The place we stayed was great and the swimming pool was inside and heated (the Princess thought it was wonderful).

I had lots of time to knit in the car and finished one Feather and Fan sock and got halfway down the cuff on the other. I forgot a darning needle and missed my patterns.

I enjoyed not cooking for 2 nights. It’s not that I don’t like cooking, because I do. I just don’t enjoy the pressure of coming up with something that everyone in the family will think is wonderful every single night. Last night was 2 minute noodles for the kids and bruschetta and antipasto for the adults. This involved virtually no cooking. It’s a break that feels like a holiday.

I think I may be just a little knitting obsessed. I came back to Juno like an old friend and got 2 repeats done, so it is very likely (all knitting goddesses permitting) that I will finish the collar this week. If all goes particularly well, I may also block, sew and complete Juno this week. Then I can concentrate on socks. And Christmas presents. And Tea Cosies (for the swap) and the Swing Jumper. And Bella. And more socks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prances With Wolves

Thinking of children (as I currently have no choice in this – due to the fact they are screaming in the next room), leads me to ponder Ms Madmad’s post about leaving them to be raised by dogs.

I wish I had thought of this option when we HAD a dog. But being raised by dogs can’t be too bad, can it? I mean, Romulus and Remus were raised by a dog (yes, yes split hairs all you want, but a wolf is definitely a TYPE of dog – so they were raised by dogs). They went on to found Rome. Rome is one of my favourite cities. You can always get great food, there is good espresso on every corner, wine is good and cheap and when you have a bad day, grappa is available. Plus the fact that it is beautiful, walkable and there’s lots of eye candy about – what more could you want of a city?

Other achievers include Mowgli – also raised by wolves – but a bear and a tiger also helped. He had books written about him and his animal companions.

In fact, lots of children have been raised by animals. Enough that there was an entire unit in undergraduate psychology about it and a zillion books written on the subject. I mean, most of these kids were OK – sure, they didn’t speak, but given my children at present, that might not be such a bad thing.

I have lots of ideas about child rearing. I have a theory that all mothers should grow an extra pair of arms during each pregnancy. You really need those arms and you need more when you have another child. Let’s see – you need arms to carry the baby, and the baby stuff, and the car keys, and your bag and the shopping. Then you need more arms to keep your sunglasses on your head and to open doors and press buttons. And to push the stroller. And catch the toddler when he does a runner.

The arms may make you look a little like Kali, but you’d be a repository for odd jumpers with four or six arms, and they’d be sooooo useful. The arms could wither away when the children turn – oohhh 14 or so.

In addition to the arms, you should get a child’s remote control at the same time the baby appears. This would only have 3 buttons – a mute button, a volume control and a stop button. Some people would argue for a slow button, but a stop would do.

The number of times I have wished for a mute button (when on the phone to officialdom or tradespeople – or just on the phone really – to real people over 95cms tall), or a volume control as the screaming and shouting and whining increases, or a stop button BEFORE the child falls off the chair or runs into traffic. The laughter of children is great – but it’s loud!!!

In other news, Juno continues to grow, slowly. I managed 2 repeats of the cables last night, and estimate there are probably at least 7-8 repeats to go. This weekend will be almost entirely devoted to socks (road trip) but also possibly some work on Christmas gift scarves.

Have a great weekend – hope for some sunshine for us (instead of gales and blizzard – it IS meant to be spring after all)!!