Tuesday, July 31, 2007

FOs and WIPs (and how you keep track!)

You asked and here it is – The Swing Jumper photo (I’m not including the link because I’ve done it so many times before). This is a crappy photo of a really lovely jumper. I’m wearing it today for the first time and I just love it – I’m already planning on making it again (and again – who wouldn’t love a jumper that takes about 16-18 hours to knit and looks just gorgeous and is really flattering?)

As I said, I used my standard no-brain tactic of increasing the needle size (to 7mm) and making it in the largest size, and in future sweaters I may do 1 more decrease at the neck edge (messing with perfection, I know).

I started the squatty sidekick last night, and as I had Lamb’s Pride Bulky, rather than worsted. I used 8mm rather than 6.5mm needles and used 10 sts across the bottom, rather than 5 as I like a bigger bag. (Yes, yes - I just can't help myself - I've always got to play with other people's instructions - it's a character flaw - what can I say? You should see what I regularly do to recipes!)
It’s looking pretty good so far (even if I do say so myself), and I like a big bag because of all the stuff you tend to carry around in it when you have kids (books and amusements, wipes, tissues, snacks etc), so I’ve had to account for those extra stitches in the shaping. Oh and my copy of the pattern has an error in the stitch count, which I will let Knitting Daily know about (that is, if you have 5 sts on the needle and you pick up 30, then 5, then another 30 you tend to get 70sts and NOT the 90 my copy of the pattern says).

This is also the first thing I have used to Knitpicks options on – although I have possessed them since March (Omigod! I can’t believe I’ve had them that long!) . This has been a combination of habitually reaching for my usual needles (and then not changing over part way through an object) and partly wanting to start something worthy of their wonderfulness!

Well, they are wonderful – I had a moment of worry when one end of the cord started to loosen, but I hadn’t tightened it with the key, and once I did that we’re fine again!

I was reading Bells post about her plethora of WIPs. I find it hard to do that – mainly because my knitting time is so limited. I generally have something easy on the needles for travelling or meetings, and another thing – which may be larger (so not so portable) or more complex (so requires concentration). My travelling knitting is generally socks (plain or with an easy repeat like the feather and fan socks) and my other knitting is garments of some kind. The Monkey socks reversed this, because they required me to concentrate and to keep track of which row in an 11 row repeat.

So now, we’re almost back to normality. I will cast on a new pair of travelling socks as soon as I finish the scarf (not long now) and after I’ve run off a few Squatty sidekicks (as per the pattern with corrections) I’ll cast on a garment. Easy!

I admire and envy those who can keep track of more than 3 WIPs (3 is definitely my upper limit), but secretly suspect they have more knitting opportunities than I. They may travel on public transport (of which there is none locally), have lunch hours, attend more meetings, or not have children threatening to destroy their knitting to get at the coveted pointy sticks!
In other words – they have lives!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ohoh! One of those Days

It’s been one of those days. Started about 3am with waking up and not going back to sleep – seems to happen to me around the full moon – my insomnia peaks then. Usually I would get up and have a solitary bath in the still watches of the night, relax amongst bubbles and read a book, and then saunter back to bed and sleep, but I was too tired to get up!

The children were no better once we’d all got up for breakfast – I had a raging headache, they were slow and needed heavy duty chivvying to get dressed and eat breakfast – getting them out the door was like herding cats.

Now, usually I love Tuesday morning - get rid of the kids – sorry, take the children to kindergarten and child care, Tuesday morning from 9ish till 12.30 is my only child free time, and today all I did was run errands and birthday party shop.

The Princess turns 5 on Thursday and the Party is on Saturday. Thursday is one of her 2 days per week at kindy, so that requires a cake to share at school – also presents at breakfast (which means getting up earlier than usual, because everything will take longer) and big presents which she might otherwise have wanted to take to school at dinner time.

Tomorrow is playgroup day, so when I return from playgroup I’ll be cleaning and cooking. Today is the day I drop 2 children off in the morning, return at lunchtime to collect Dectructoboy, and again 2 hours later to collect Princess. It’s worth it just to have the time to myself!

To add insult to injury, I forgot to tape Knitty Gritty on Saturday, so I didn’t even get to sit quietly and watch it with no interruptions (a Tuesday treat).

At least last night I finished the Swing Jumper, including gentle steam blocking – so tomorrow I can wear it to Playgroup – the social highlight of my week! I did manage to sneak into the local Op Shop and find a Country Road angora jumper (in my size!) and 1.5 balls of a rather nice variegated mohair.

I also managed to read the Mad Housewife’s post on the importance of children’s craft to a mother’s well being – which made me laugh hysterically and maniacally while cackling madly. So the day was not a complete write-off.

So today I herded cats, ran and ran, carried stuff, ran some more – ran late and looked longingly at my knitting.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Grey, grey, the world is grey

Grey, grey, grey.

It’s one of those raw, grey days today. I think of them as being indecisive winter days. It doesn’t have enough commitment to rain, there’s no wind and everything is sort of bleak and blah.

‘A perfect day for knitting’, you might think. Well, yes, if you don’t have small children. I have managed to engage in some knitting related activities. Some time ago, I gave my stepmother (a totally wonderful woman who both spins and knits – but not socks) some rainbow dyed Lincoln wool and taught her to do a twisted German cast on (my preferred sock cast on). I gave her a copy of a basic sock pattern, coached her through heel turning and gusset picking up, introduced her to Kitchener stitch and set her loose on the world.

She has finished her first sock, but looks as if she will run out of wool before reaching the end of the second sock. Luckily, I had another skein of the rainbow Lincoln (which I didn’t really want to give up – but that’s the way the world goes sometimes).

In the process of digging out the Lincoln, I decided to tidy up my sock yarn stash.

Now, I think I mentioned that I had enough yarn for at least 50 pairs of socks. Better revise that well upward!

This is part of my pre-tidy sock yarn stash.

This is the same stash after finding the yarn and tidying it.

This is only part of my sock yarn stash – it may be grounds for a sock yarn diet. Although not yet at SABLE proportions, I’m certainly working on it!

In addition to the tidying of part of the stash, I also updated my knitting journal (yes yes – I keep a record of each project, bands of the yarn – if they have any, details of yarn and a sample, any modifications I made to the pattern, and recently I added start and finish dates. I also run a ledger of new techniques and stitches, display books for patterns – 2 for socks, 2 for jumpers and cardis, one for kid’s stuff, one for shawls, one for hats, scarves and mittens and so on – that does not include knit magazines, but downloaded patterns and gift patterns – I also have a folder with plastic sleeves where I store DPNs and Circs, each sleeve marked with the size of its contents and an index card detailing what I have in each size), and got the heavy duty document holder ziplock ready for the Squatty sidekick – (Pattern, yarn and needles)

How come I can be so organised with my stash, and so crap at keeping my house clean and tidy and clutter free. They invented the term ‘engaging squalor’ for my house. There are piles of books, papers and mail on most flat surfaces – either awaiting reading, awaiting action or awaiting filing (or recycling).

I keep promising to dust and then vacuum, but haven’t done it for a few weeks. – I must do it before the birthday party on Saturday. Bathrooms get cleaned, and the kitchen is always clean, but the rest bores me rigid.

My best non-dusting story is that after we were burgled when we lived in Queensland, I could show the insurance assessor the dust free areas where the TV, video and stereo etc had been – and he believed our loss because no-one could fake those!

Mind you, it rather backfired – the police can’t get fingerprints from dusty surfaces!

So, off to give away yarn – and a pattern for the Voodoo wristwarmers!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

WIPs and WNIPs

Thanks for all your comments re wine – it’s just lovely to know I have so many soul sisters out there, willing to drop everything and have a glass (or two, or three). Willing to drink while cooking (even it the cooking just consists of making toast!). If you’re ever coming to Tassie, let me know and I’ll put the sparkles on ice! Here’s to you!

We had a happy family day yesterday. Took a trip to the northern Capital for some shopping before the Princess’s 5th birthday on Thursday, and Destructoboy’s 3rd, 15 days after that. (Yes yes – they were both supposed to be Virgo’s, and both turned out to be Leos – Princess was 6 weeks early and Destructoboy 2 weeks early – both C-sections – I’ll give you all the details later – over a bottle of wine). The Accountant and I are both Aquarians – me with Leo rising, which makes for occasional fiery exchanges.

The Accountant kept Princess occupied by taking her to look at toys which we had no intention of ever buying for her – but it’s amusing to watch her run from one thing to another! I raced off with Son in stroller and on the way back to rescue the Accountant, the Shopping Goddess smiled. I found 2 really nice tops reduced to $9 (yes $9) from 60 – of course I bought them – need you ask?

I’ve been sympathising with Georgie on her shopping woes – as it’s well known that you never find anything you like when you look for it – only when you’re (a) in a hurry to get somewhere else; or (b) you have no money, and your credit card is maxed out. As I don’t wear ‘work clothes’ any more – only jeans and t-shirts (at least I’ve finished the preganancy/breast feeding/ pregnant and breast feeding/pregnant/breast feeding four and a half years so I’m out of maternity bras and forced t-shirt wearing). T-shirty things minimise ironing (which eats into my knitting time)

Grabbed the tops, had lunch with In-laws and played in the park and then the best bit!

Picked up my wonderful and now entirely functional coffee machine. The genius coffee machine doctor had finished it, the In-laws collected it for me, it cost a quarter of what I feared and it’s back home.

I love my coffee machine! This meant I could have a latte this morning, Princess could have her frothy hot chocolate and Destructoboy could have a babycino. Hurrah!

Oh dear – I’ve almost finished the Swing Jumper – it’s been such fun knitting something easy, that just whizzes along – I’ll finish the second sleeve tonight and start sewing it up after blocking it and tomorrow will put the crochet edge on the neck and bottom and Voila! An FO (and of course now that I’ve committed myself by saying all that aloud, the Knitting Goddess will strike me down for Hubris!)

I’ve also almost finished the travelling feather and fan scarf (which I will put the sort of pattern up soon as it’s the second variation I’ve knitted). Just half a ball of Jet to go and the ends to weave in.

What will I start next? I have no socks currently on the needles, so I think I will get the June Red Bird Sock of the Every other Month Kit (Polyglot) on the go. This is knitted in Collinette Jitterbug and the colourway is ‘Mardi Gras’ – so cheery and fun – just have to wind the skein into a ball.

It really is imperative that I start these as last week I received my little parcel from Canada and it was my August kit, which was the yarn (Scheepjeswol Cotton 8) for 2 pairs of socks and patterns for 2 pairs – an easy lace, and a tangier variation – 1 pair aqua and 1 pair jade green. As these are cotton, I’ll probably save them for summer knitting but if I don’t get a move on it’ll be October and another will arrive and I’ll start getting overwhelmed.

Considering that my stash currently contains wool for around 50 pairs of socks (at a conservative estimate) it’s time I got a move on!

This week also bought the arrival of some Rowanspun 4 ply and the buying of some Noro and Silk Road, so I think I need to get my head down and backside up (at least metaphorically as it’s very hard to knit in that position!)

Possibly I will take a couple of evenings to make some Squatty Sidekicks so I’m getting ahead on the whole Christmas thing. And then it will be time for Childhood, followed by Juno. And then more socks and then some Fibretrends knit then felt animals. And then the Katia Cardi in the Knittery boucle. And then the Kauni cardi. And the Turtle walk socks by Spidey. And the swing jumper again. And the Black Dog jacket – maybe in silk garden. And the Arcadia jumper. And the, and the and the,

Reset. Reset. Reset.

So much knitting, so little time!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some days, wine is the only answer

Some days wine is the only answer.

I love wine. I love visiting wineries – tasting and smelling all the different varieties. I love matching wine and food – having dinner complemented by the right wine. I adore the glass or two in the evening, while I cook and then eat dinner. I love it when the man delivers 5 cases of new wine – whoops.

I have found that unless we actually visit wineries, I prefer to buy my wine over the internet or by mail-order. I have found a wonderful company who only charges $5.00 per case delivery anywhere is Australia – which is great, because some places charge 28 dollars a case to deliver to our little island.

I shouldn’t really buy wine, because we have lots in the cellar. But most of the cellar is red. I generally prefer a glass of white while I’m preparing food, and the Accountant doesn’t really drink white, so enter the cases from the nice people who send wine around Australia.

This year we have had two shortish holidays as a family. At Easter, we visited Canberra (hi there all my ACT friends) – and drove back to catch the ferry through Rutherglen – a lovely winey time and because we had the car we could stock up just a little!

Then in May we went to Western Australia. This included a few days in Margaret River – strangely enough, another wine area. We tried to buy only what we were going to drink while we were away (thus removing the likelihood of heavy, clinky cabin bags when flying home) but of course we were seduced.

You know you are a parent with munchkins when you choose a winery because (and only because) it has a playground. But we lucked out – turned out that Watershed wines not only had a playground, it had lovely wines and an excellent restaurant. Some days you just can’t lose!

And sparkles! Don’t get me started on how much I adore sparkles! Sparkling Red is a favourite, but pink champagne (style wine – just in case Appellation Controlee come after me) and white sparkles are also great.

Red bubbles are great with Indian and Thai food (fruitiness offsets spice perfectly), and pink and white for any other time – particularly a glass for while I’m deciding whether to have a(nother) glass. I don’t get to drink sparkles much at present – even I can’t justify opening a bottle and drinking the whole thing! It really doesn’t keep and the Accountant isn’t a great sparkles man. Ho hum!

So mainly white it is. The Accountant’s doctor recommended that he drink a glass of red a night, which he is doing – I just drink it because I like it! 2 glasses and I’m a happy bunny – no more than two, because my knitting tends to suffer if I have more than that.

Besides, there are days, and every mother knows it (even if we often don’t admit it in public), when the children have been holy terrors, you’ve shouted, and screamed and cajoled and threatened and coerced until everyone is fraught and fed up. Those days wine IS the only answer.

What was the question again?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Love of Leftovers

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions – I love leftovers and have carefully noted your ideas for future leftovers – I should have pointed out that this was the third meal from the leg of lamb – roast, followed by fritters, some used on sandwiches, so last night it was:

I sweated some leeks, garlic and mushrooms in a little butter, then added chopped leftover lamb, stock and white wine, mixed herbs, pepper, worcestershire sauce and nutmeg, and 10 mins out from serving some fresh local Brussels sprout (or fairy cabbages as they are known in this house), stabilised some leftover sour cream with a little cornflour and stirred that in – served with a jacket potato. Easy and fairly quick, while also cleaning out the crisper drawer, providing some veggies and it was great!

Today. a warning.

Crocs eat handknit pure wool socks.

Yes, I’m afraid I’ve ditched my comfy crocs, for winter at least – they have eaten 3 socks recently – which will force me to reknit 3 heels. They destroyed the heels in my Spidey rainbow socks, my Spidey Watermelon socks (after only 3 wearings) and my gorgeous merino/cashmere jojoland quartette socks after only 2 wears.

These gorgeous socks are sitting forlornly in my mending basket waiting for me to either darn, or to re-knit their lovely heels. I’m so distressed – not least because I am crap at darning – and I refuse to take the Yarn Harlot darning strategy (where you say ‘Darn!’ and bin them).

These were socks I really, really loved wearing. Knitting them was fun too. But I don’t want to knit disposable socks – I want my lovely socks to last for years and years.

When I’m feeling richer I will buy some Birkenstocks.

I love socks – I love knitting them and I love wearing them – generally 100gr of sock wool provides me with enough yarn to knit myself a pair and a child a pair. Luckily, the socks that were eaten hadn’t had the leftover yarn used on child socks – so I should have enough to make new heels (or to learn to darn)

So it’s boots for me (and ugg boots round the house – not so attractive, but I haven’t got around to making my own Fibertrends knit then felt clog slippers, only the ones for the munchkins at present – one of which has been swallowed by the mobile black hole which roams the house eating socks and coathangers, biros and the only CD you feel like listening to.

Off to cook dinner – chicken thighs roasted with bacon and quince jelly- and something or other with it – spuds probably and red cabbage cooked with white wine vinegar, balsamic, olive oil and raisons.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the Wonder of Books

Quite exhausted from yesterdays rant.

On the knitting front, I am halfway up the first sleeve – so I may go very close to a two week jumper on this one (yay!) – thank you, Ms Black Dog.

I had some positive feedback yesterday from the rant – thank you ladies – When I work out how to deal with teenage attitude in my not-yet-five year old without screaming and yelling and threatening to cancel birthdays I’ll let you know!

Today I thought we could talk about books.

I love reading – and would like to be better at reading and knitting at the same time. I’m currently reading ‘The Book of Lies’, having just finished the first 2 Lily Bard mysteries by Charlaine Harris. I’d read all the others but not those. I enjoyed her ‘Southern Vampire’ series so much, I just had to check out her others – enough humour and sex, without taking anything to seriously.

You may have gathered that I am a science fiction and fantasy fan, with love of children/young adult books as well as the grown up ones. I adore the classic children’s books – Winnie-the-Pooh (NOT the Disney version – yech yech yech!), Wind in the Willows, Milly-Molly-Mandy, Paddington Bear, anything by Roald Dahl, Alan Garner, and J P Martin’s Uncle books.

I’m very much in love with all the Tamora Pierce series – particularly because they have great female central characters in non-traditional areas, Phillip Pullman (I understand there is a film of Northern Lights coming starring Our Nic), John Flanagan, Joan Aiken and Nicholas Stuart Grey (sadly out of print, but email Penguin Books and keep asking for them – that’s what I do). My excuse is that I buy all these for the children when they’re older, but the truth is that I just enjoy them.

Growing up on a farm as an only child, with 2 TV channels (which didn’t transmit 24 hours a day – no morning TV in those days, and it finished at 10.30pm with ‘Thought for the Day’ and the National Anthem) I read. And read and read and read and read – I read out the children’s section of the local library before I was 7 and then got a special dispensation to take out adult books.

Someone I know suggested that the best way to get kids to read was to give them a torch, and then forbid them from reading after you turn out the lights, and there may be something in that (certainly my children are more likely to do something I have told them not to, than something I tell them to do!)

I envy Taph her ability to set books free into the wild – I can’t give up books (unless I really hated them!). Books, to me, are friends. My favourite shops are my LYS and bookshops – new or second hand, don’t care. My favourite bookshop is Galaxy in Sydney. I don’t often get there, but I mail order regularly (if less frequently than BC – Before Children). I’m currently still working through last December’s order – the local library has been providing me with all the books I requested in the last few months, and library books get priority over the ones I own.

I love the smell of bookshops, especially second hand bookshops of the sort Terry Pratchett describes, where books are stacked and piled in no apparent order, and manage to bend into L-space. I don’t get enough time these days to smell eau-de-tome, but enjoy it whenever it is offered.

I also re-read books – unfortunately if you hoard enough books, you don’t get enough time to re-read all the ones you want to – but I’ll get around to it when I work out how not to mess up my lace knitting every time I get to an exciting bit in Chapter 7.

Enough already. Have think of something wonderful to do for dinner with leftover roast lamb. Unfortunately ‘Delicious’ is a bit light on for ideas on how to use up leftovers, so I guess I’m on my own for that one!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ranting about Motherhood

What is it about winter that makes us so dispirited – at least a little more than in summer? This of course, excludes all teenagers, who feel bitter and depressed all year round. This sullenness is driven by being 13 – 16 and having appalling parents who refuse to allow them to stay out all night, have unlimited mobile phone credit or eat only purple food. Mine aren’t there yet, but I’m watching my friends’ children turn into aliens from the planet Angst and thinking about the future.

I am, of course, an appalling mother. All mothers are appalling at some point, but I have decided to make it my life’s work to be really awful at motherdom.

I strongly recall my own teenage years. I was poisonous. I wrote sad and bitter tragic poetry, (which was overall bad poetry) and spent a great deal of time in my room. In the dark. With incense. And cigarettes I fondly imagined my parents knew nothing about. (This was until my mother ran out of cigarettes and started stealing mine – at which point I realised they weren’t as stupid as I’d hoped).

I spent a lot of time being a tortured soul and wearing black. Now, of course, the same wardrobe just looks like you live in Melbourne. Or possibly that you can’t make wardrobe choices in the morning and black always goes with other colours. Like black. Or even black.

Occasionally, my very nearly five year old daughter shows flashes of what she will be like as a teenager. I’m NOT looking forward to it. So, I thought I’d get a head start and become a really awful mother now, just to get prepared.

Her birthday is next week. For lots of reasons, ever since I discovered at 18 weeks of pregnancy that I was having a girl, I declared our house a Barbie and Baby Born free zone. I agree with all the arguments about them being sexist and pushing particular gender roles on children, but mainly I hate the marketing. I hate the fact that clothes for either of them cost more than clothes for a real baby or child. I object to commercials about Barbie cruise ships or Babies that wet and cry (hey – got one already – he’s 2!).

I have extended the marketing free zone to include Bratz, which I think are slutty, and send all the wrong messages about body image and fashion to young girls. I resent the sexualisation of children that corporations push in their toys, clothes and in the media. And I won’t put money in their pockets to let them keep doing it.

Philip Adams coined the term ‘corporate paedophilia’, and I agree. So I am an appalling mother.

Mind you – I don’t mind Bob the Builder to the same degree – especially not since Wendy came out of the office and picked up a hammer!

That turned into a bit of a rant – sorry – but while I have always felt this way, it’s become more personal since having children of my own.

I am also an awful mother because we don’t watch commercial television – so most of the time I don’t know what the toy-de-jour is anyway!

I feel strongly that it is a parent’s role to embarrass their children in public as frequently as possible. That parents are there to love, protect, support and place limits on behaviour. That parents exist to turn the constant barbarian invasion that is babies into civilised – and civil - human beings. Human beings who value and respect others, believe that working is a good and valuable thing, that riches of the mind are more important that instant celebrity and that books are the very best presents to give and receive. (No, I haven’t read HP yet – the Accountant snaffled it as it came in the door and won’t give it back).

I also think that parents should read. And knit. And laugh. And cook. And play. And answer questions. And build houses out of boxes and make cards with glitter. And get dirty and kick balls and throw snowballs and make sandcastles and pick flowers and climb trees and push swings. And knit. And kiss their children and read stories and when the children are in bed they should fall exhausted into chairs and drink wine and knit (but not knit drunk – no, no!)

Besides, embarrassing your children is fun! Just think, when they’re teenagers they’ll get to embarrass you!

I also hate Big Brother. And I would hate Paris Hilton – if I didn’t feel so sorry for her. I bet she had a REALLY appalling mother.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Return of the prodigal

I’m Baaa-aack!

Hurrah, the month has ended and I’m back on-line – I’ll try to ration myself this month and not chew up so much broadband – mind you, a lot of that was, I think, Black Dog Knits fault – I mean, you find the site, you find the yummy designs and you – download them, and print them out and start knitting them and planning for them – what do you expect!

This morning, I had a look for a cardigan pattern for Daughter’s Ladybird jacket and think I will use The Childhood jacket from Knitty.com. In red and black. With a hood – Daughter loves hats and hoods.

We had a great weekend, despite the lack of broadband – Saturday we took a drive up to the Central Plateau, for the kids to see snow. Remember, Tasmania has the same climate as Tuscany (except no-one says ‘Wow, Tuscany, it’s freezing there’), so to see snow in winter we have to drive into the mountains. We found snow – not a lot, maybe 4-6 inches deep (10-15cms), enough to build a small snowman, for daughter to make a little snow angel on a clear section and enough to throw snowballs at each other – also enough for daughter to put a handful down the back of my jeans – brrrrr!

Very occasionally – maybe once in ten years it snows at sea level in Tassie – I remember a flatmate’s birthday being distinguished by lots of snow in Hobart many years ago – we made snowmen in the park at midnight and buried bottles of champagne to chill. People skied down the main street and little old men threw snowballs at passers-by. Almost everyone had the day off work, except me – I lived 2 blocks away, which until then I’d considered an advantage! The next day it was all gone, but it was fun while it lasted. That day there was snow on the beaches over the whole state.

I have also been in Florence on New Years Eve when it was snowing – so Tuscan climate here, not Scottish!

Sunday was our first ever Birthday Party at a fast food restaurant – not the M one, the other burger place, and I was quite surprised by how much fun Daughter had – loved the playground, ignored the food (except for Lemonade) won the prize for the best costume of the girls – it was Pirates and Fairies and she went as a Pirate Fairy – think Pirate – with sparkly wings. Lots of loot, and a wonderful time had by all.

We are not fast food and takeaway junkies. When on holiday I adore takeaway, but it tends to be of the Vietnamese, Thai, Italian, Japanese variety, rather than fast fast food. The children have been to burger restaurants maybe 3 times each – mainly because they are near highways when we are driving long distances and have toilets and undercover playgrounds. Small country towns don’t often have much fast food – we have a fish and chip shop, and I understand there is a pizza place open on Friday and Saturday nights – but hey – I make better pizzas than we can buy round here – and they have all the stuff we like on them!

For those who asked - here is the progress on the swing jumper. I have finished the back and am up to the armpits on the front. I am enjoying just knitting away with easy increases and decreases and hope to finish the front tonight and start on the first sleeve - after I've done the ironing!

Thanks to Bells, have also discovered a new blog – Rachel – also known as the Mad, Mad Housewife – read her most recent posts this morning and almost cried laughing – that is a woman who really knows the joys of family life – check her blog out if you haven’t already.

I also caught up with Bells domestic blogging – why is it that even when women work outside the home that somehow cleaning up the inside of the home becomes their responsibility? I tried to remember the last time a man (any man any time) cleaned a toilet in a house I was living in – and I couldn’t! Even when cleaning duties were (apparently) split evenly (I do the dusting, you do the vacuuming, I change the sheets, you wash the floor, I do the bathroom……) I always ended up with the toilet!

I will ponder this fact!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I’m excited – but I should have been excited a week ago! I have been reading lots of blogs – and thoroughly enjoying vicariously meeting lots of new people – and popping comments on their wonderful blogs, but it wasn’t till yesterday that I realised how honoured I’d been!

Put this down to being a blog novice. I was tagged as a Rockin’ Girl Blogger by Catherine. In fact, despite my newness, she had named my blog as one of her top five international rocking blogs – now, I apologise for not mentioning this before, but I really had not realised how wonderful it was – so thank you very much, Catherine.

She’s going through a tough time right now, so I’m thinking of her and her family.

On a different note, I have finished the back of the Black Dog Swing Jumper – the knitting gods must have something extra specially bad planned for me, because I finished the back the night I thought I was going to and (as far as I can tell) have not yet made major errors requiring frogging – for which I will also no doubt get struck down.

I have started on the front, and love the way it looks. The Silk Road drapes gorgeously and I love the tweedy flecked look. I’m knitting on bamboo needles to, which are becoming nicer the more I use them. I admit to not having used my Knit Picks Options much – the few times I have used them I loved them, but I keep going back to my old faves out of habit.

I’m also still searching for the perfect pattern for Daughter’s jacket/cardi with the ladybird buttons. Rose Red is right. I needs to be lovely and simple to allow the buttons to be the key feature – may have found something – the simplest of jackets, which I can play with to make perfect – watch this space.

I had a wonderful score at the local op shop on Thursday. -3 balls of Aarlan Aarwetta (sock yarn) – 2 in lilac, 1 in pink – all full skeins yum yum – 1.50 each. Someone locally uses lots of Aarlan, because I have scored a couple of balls of a gorgeous silk wool mix in the past. Wonder who it is?

I often wonder who the people are who have used the things I buy in op shops. They must have taste similar to mine – Aarlan’s great, I love the totes I have scored over the last few months for knitting bags, the dress I scored a few weeks ago – so why haven’t I met them? It’s only a small town after all.

Taph was talking about the history of objects on her blog recently. I love imagining their history. I adore the things I own which used to belong to my grandparents or great-grandparents. My family are hoarders and passers along – things that belonged to my great grandparents have their genesis in the 1850s and 1860s – my paternal grandmother was born in 1896 and died in 1973. These objects feel like a tangible link to my family and their history.

Mind you, this makes it very hard to de-clutter!

You may have noticed that I’m very light on for photos over the last few days. The Accountant has discovered how much over my broadband allocation for this month I am, and has threatened to disconnect me, This means I am limiting myself in how many blogs I look at and in commenting over the next few days (till I get my new allocation!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eternal Vigilance

Typical Tassie! A gale and freezing yesterday – today the sun is out, it’s warmish and still – a gorgeous winter day – You really can’t tell!

I’m very down on myself today. Despite being very vigilant about emails and spam, I actually clicked on an email, purporting to be from a potential buyer on ebay. When I actually tried to see why they were asking a question, turns out they were phishing and got all my ebay account details. I’m very careful about the emails supposedly from banks etc – so I’m very cross with myself for being taken in by this one. When I checked my email today, there was one from ebay, saying they had made my account inactive and changed passwords etc – and 3 MORE emails with questions about stuff I’ve never heard of! Luckily, ebay has better security than me, had realised what was happening and de-activated my account – all fixed now – and I’ve always had different passwords for everything (so no duplication and access to other accounts) – but still scary!

Take my experience as a warning and a word to the wise – If you’re an ebayer, check any messages through your ebay account and be very very careful – has a keystroke virus attached apparently – so make sure your virus checkers are up-to-date!

On a lighter – and much nicer- note, I am up the armholes on the Swing Jumper. Looking very nice and draping beautifully – just did the first decrease – so it’s taken 3 nights or around 6 hours while watching Star Wars 1 and 2 and some other things (My name is Earl) to get to here. On progress so far (always a dangerous method of estimation) I should finish it tonight and maybe cast on for the front!

Of course, having made that claim, I will make an enormous mistake, necessitating frogging and re-knitting or something. I sort of hoped for it to be around a 2 week sweater knit (something less than 30 hours) so we’ll see.

I need to organise my husband as a skein holder at the weekend, so I can wind some sock yarn into a centre pull ball with my new ball winder!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

It's raining, it's pouring.....

It’s raining. We’ve had 25mm (1 inch) since yesterday afternoon. Last night it blew a gale, lashing the windows with whips of rain and keeping me awake most of the night. This is the first real wind we’ve had this winter – we’ve become accustomed to frosts and sunny days. It’s a bit of a shock.

A Danish backpacker is lost somewhere on Cradle Mountain. No-one’s seen him for 2 weeks and no-one knew he had gone there. It’s been snowing and last night they said it was -11 degrees Celsius. I hope he’s OK – but I worry that he’s not.

My children were over the moon about the rain – it’s their first chance to wear the new raincoats I bought back in March – first chance! In a Tasmanian winter!

My knitting continued last night – 2 nights knitting and I’m 35cm up the front of Black Dog’s Swing Jumper. Mind you – if you REALLY want to see fast knitting, take a look at 2Paws Tour de France KAL – Gorgeous.

I started collecting patterns to adapt for Daughter (got to find a better pseudonym). I bought some rather gorgeous Ladybird buttons and now I need a jumper to put them on. I have scarlet Bendigo 8 ply, Black 8 ply and I want to make something unisex – Though I don’t know if that’s possible with ladybird buttons!

Had thought of a tunic with either rib or garter stitch in black at bottom, cuffs, and across a boat-neck, 3 buttons on each side, red body and sleeves. Had vaguely thought of intarsia black spots, but decided against that, on the grounds that I went nearly instant gratification. Any ideas anyone? For a nearly 5 year old?

Off to amuse Master 2 – he’s currently being a kangaroo and boinging all over the place.

I need to contain my blog reading and photos for a couple of days – used 125% of my allowance on broadband this month and the month doesn’t finish till Sunday – Had Taph’s problem in reverse – I thought (for some reason) that last weekend was the 22nd – oh dear!

Back to the madhouse!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Too many Mondays

Monday again. There are just too many Mondays in life generally. Sundays are great. Sundays are fundays. But they have one major flaw. On a Sunday, there is always the threat of a Monday hanging over you. There are things you need to do on a Sunday night, because tomorrow is Monday – like ironing. Spent all too much of last night ironing, when I could have been knitting.

It was beautiful yesterday. This is the view from my study window.

It was a cold and very frosty start to the day – I had to get up relatively early and walk down the road, in the cold to get eggs. While I knitted with the ladies on Saturday, the Accountant took the children shopping at the local independent supermarket. He was also meant to stop in at the neighbour’s fruit and veg shop (by neighbour, I mean our nearest neighbour, couple of hundred yards up the road) to get some free range eggs. These are large and very brown and have golden yellow yolks and are yummy – but he forgot.

Without eggs there are no waffles for breakfast. Two and a half years ago the children bought me a penguin waffle iron for Christmas – yes, yes, I know, they didn’t really buy it for me with their hard earned cash – even I don’t send my children down the mines at 6 months and 2 and a half! – I wanted it and bought it and wrapped it and put it under the tree, because although the Accountant is an admirable man in almost every respect, he tends to fall rather short in the present giving department. This method avoids problems all round and I get a present I really like. Last Christmas they gave the first series of ‘Lost’ on DVD – lovely munchkins they are. But I digress.

I returned with the eggs and Daughter and I made waffles in the shape of penguins. Even Son who is possibly the worlds pickiest eater and seems only to eat apples, fish and carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice, chips, mashed potatoes, etc) loves penguin waffles.

In the afternoon we visited our local National Park. Gorgeous day, sunny, mild and by mid afternoon the park was crawling with wombats. In summer (when we tend to visit more often) almost no animals are visible during the day, but yesterday I counted at least eleven wombats, and too many Bennett’s Wallabies and pademelons (roufous wallaby) to even think of counting! (have a look at this site to check on some native animals – yes I am a member and it’s a gratuitous plug!). We even saw a couple of Forester Kangaroos – Tasmania’s only kangaroos, We all walked to the wonderful over water bird hide, even if Son managed to fall full length in the only mud puddle around.

It makes me realise that we don’t utilise and support our national parks enough. We have a 2 year parks pass and would be lucky to get even to our nearest park (25 minutes away) 5 times a year! Cradle Mountain (iconic Tasmanian place that it is) is an hour away and is lucky to get a visit once a year – if that!

My mid year resolution – to spend more time loving, supporting and utilising national parks! It worth it to see my daughter squatting on the ground 3 feet from a wombat and singing to it! – Of course, I’m sure I can find projects to knit as I walk!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Can you have too much yarn?

Okay. I’m going to admit it. I may just have too much wool. I have just found 16 balls of Heirloom cashmerino in my stash. I have also discovered 19 balls of Jaeger royal blue mohair. This is yarn I had entirely forgotten I owned – the Jaeger is permissible – to my recollection I bought it at least 10 years ago and possibly more. The cashmerino I have no excuse for. I had it on lay-by for ages and only collected it a bit over 6 months ago. But it gets worse.

I thought I had entirely lost 10 skeins of Jaeger merino. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Went through and through my stash(es). I looked everywhere I might have secreted them due to having to smuggle them past the Accountant (have I mentioned that he’s started to twitch when I take possession of parcels containing yarn?).

I looked and looked. I know there is a mobile black hole in the house. I know it eats single socks, coat-hangers, pens and jig saw puzzle pieces. I know it occasionally eats knitting needles. But this is the first time it has eaten wool. Turns out it was phantom wool. It was wool I lusted over and never bought. I forget wool I own - and remember wool I have never possessed

I love yarn. My stash is organised and generally only in 2 places. I generally have tabs on the yarn I own - especially large quantities - but this was downright weird!

On a happier note, I have finished the Monkey socks. They are on my feet and look and feel great.

This means tonight is new project night (after the ironing is done). This makes me sooooooo happy. I love casting on for a new project. I know I said it was going to be Juno, but….

1. I have been seduced by Black Dog Knits swing jumper
2. I have just found some Jo Sharp Silk Road and the Cashmerino, either of which would be fabulous.
3. The swing jumper is supposed to be a fast knit (almost instant gratification)
4. Neither of the yarns in which I am proposing to knit it is red or a tone of red.
5. I have just finished L&S in red and that was lost of red and lots of knitting.

6. The Yarn for Juno is red – Thought I’d have a break from it

So I think I will try the Silkroad, which should hang beautifully. If it is as fast and easy as I have been led to believe I may even make 2 – with Juno in the middle.

I just love knitting – maybe I should buy that wool after all……

Friday, July 13, 2007

Feel the love.....

Yesterday I was thinking about the 12 step program for knitters – but really, you know, I don’t think I need one (you on the other hand….). I mean, we’re all functional in the world (well, that’s a fairly loose description as it applies to moi). Knitting helps us function better, not worse. We are quiet and happy on public transport, docile in queues, happy in front of televisions and in the passenger seats of cars (One day I WILL work out how to knit while driving)

Mind you, some of us are fairly aggro on planes! With the security regimen in place in Australia, not even plastic DPNs are allowed. This makes me sympathise with the lady I heard of who designed and made paper and glue needles for flights. You roll up the paper really tightly and coat with glue and harden and – I still wonder how you get exactly the right gauge on the needles when you make them, or do you just make heaps and then run them through the needle gauge measuring thing and go – close enough?

We don’t beat people up or cause car accidents or spend the rent or rob houses…… You’re right. You only have to go to your very favourite LYS on Sale day to see assault and mayhem, and my experiments with driving while knitting and please don’t discuss my credit card bill with my husband and should I happen to find that you have a secret stash of quiviut and I know where you live, I can’t answer for my likely behaviour.

OK. We have a problem – or at least I may. But, you know what. I’m cool with that. (apart from the credit card bill). Besides, I can control it – after all, yesterday I walked past (picked up and caressed and resolutely replaced) a 10 pack of Jo Sharp DK wool in the most gorgeous scarlet on sale at 3.50 a ball. See, I can control it. I didn’t buy that wool – I wanted it and I walked away. That’s resolution for you.

Mind you, it helped that the wonderful local yarn shop is run by fabulous religious ladies who DON’T TAKE CREDIT CARDS. This is lucky, because if they did, I wouldn’t be responsible for my actions.

In addition, we knitters are charitable and kind sorts. Spent today at a community knitting day. Apart from the Adult Education Staff, I was the youngest person there – which is really saying something (because I am no longer young – of course I’m not yet middle aged ‘cos that kicks in at, what? 65 or so?

These ladies were all knitting furiously for people in Mongolia. And for AIDS orphans. And for prem babies (I took advantage of their kindness when my daughter –born at 34 weeks – and I were in hospital). And for children and grand children and great grand children.

I knitted 3 of Taph’s bulky beanies today. 1 big and 2 medium, using wool from stash (red bulky), wool from Op-shop (beige bulky) and donated (lemon very bulky). 3 heads in Mongolia will be warmer because of my knitting. What a nice feeling. I’m going again in a month.

Thanks Taph. And let’s all give a round of thanks to Taph and Midge, and Gwen, and June, and Jenny and all the other fabulous women (and occasional men) who knit for people who can’t knit for themselves, and make lots of people all over the world feel loved and cared for and warm.

This one’s for you!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Houston, we have a problem......

Well, well, well – Friday again already! Remember when you were in your teens (back in the dark ages for me!) and Friday always seemed to take forever to roll around each week?

Now Fridays seem to zip past so fast that I feel like someone watching a tennis match – whizzz- there goes another Friday – whiz – another one – I’d better stop – I’m getting whiplash!

So, here in a straight pinch from Black Dog Knits for Fibrelicious Friday is:

Some beautiful laceweight ( 106 grams, 1200 metres of the Happy Spider’s Apricot Delight). One day it wants to grow up, fight world poverty, end war and become an absolutely gorgeous shawl.

Speaking of school, I hated it – had attitude issues with my teachers (I thought many of them weren’t very good teachers – I respected the ones who were and ‘acted out’ and was generally a poisonous brat with those I didn’t respect. One of these was the Home Ec teacher, a sour and bitter woman, with a mouth like a cat’s bum. I was just plain scared of her!

As a tomboy, I had the level of respect for the ‘womanly arts’, as she used to call them, that I had for dog poo on my shoe. I was a good cook (as were both my parents) but I was NOT good at needlework, and the grade 7 knitting that started off as a scarf became a pencil case. So did the grade 8 one. I failed needlework. In those days girls did sewing and cooking, and boys did woodwork and metal work – I really figured that girls got the rough end of the pineapple on that one (as they did in the 1970s in many other areas).

I couldn’t see the point in knitting. I did not touch either sewing or knitting again for many years.

When I went to Uni, my father bought me a sewing machine rather than give me a clothing allowance. I taught myself to design and sew and develop patterns. I made clothes for myself and my friends and costumes for a number of theatre productions. With no sour faced teacher in the picture deriding my efforts, I had discovered the joy of sewing. Also at Uni, a friend taught me to knit. I was never great, but I enjoyed it and made some jumpers (some of which I still have – though not my first ever jumper – made out of pale blue ‘New Yorker’)

I knitted on and off for the next mumble mumble years and always enjoyed it and loved wearing my creations. – remember the colours and shapes of the 1980’s!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was knitting a mohair jumper. Her very early arrival meant that I didn’t finish it and she was 3 & ½ and my son was 18 months old when I decided to knit again. That was in May last year. I didn’t realise that the hat, and then the mittens for her and then the mittens for me would be like the first drink to a recovering alcoholic.

This is the second part of the stash – in the downstairs cupboard. (Rose Red – can you see the Ziploc bags?) This is WIP and soon to be WIP. There’s the sock kit from Red Bird Knits Sock of the every other month club – Collinette Jitterbug, calico bags with cotton for dishcloths, sock yarn I want to do things with now – or at least next week, patterns and books – my new ball winder, the knitting felting bag – slippers etc and more.

I hadn’t realised I was an alcoholic. I just sort of knitted. Most of the time. But with that first knitting after the 3 and a half year hiatus I was a woman possessed. I can no more think of a future without knitting , than I can think of a future without legs!

Hello, my name is Tinkingbell – and I’m a knitaholic…….

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Deep thoughts on magic

Blogging has been a bit of a revelation – I am impressed with the 6 degrees of separation thing (In Tasmania, of course, being an island with a population of 450,000, many of whom have been here for generations and are related, there are only 3 degrees of separation – if you don’t know them, you know someone who does!). The very first day I put up my blog, I had a comment from Catherine – who lives on the other side of the world.

This is the thing I love most about the internet and cybersphere – that it makes distance immaterial – How did you find me, by the way, Catherine? Fascinated to know!

In addition, having 2 kids and living in the countryish (just outside a town of 1500 people) meant my shopping options were limited. We aren’t far from the nearest city (25,000 people) and an hour from the Northern Capital (65,000) but the range of goods available (read books and yarn) is limited. As, I might add is my ability to browse when accompanies by children who have no interest!

Here comes the internet! My favourite enablers all have stores on the internet – or offer their goods for sale that way. The artisans who dye and/or paint wool, those who spin, those who talk about spinning and knitting, who let me peek into their lives, who share their concerns not just about spinning and knitting, but their studies, and families, and health, and recipes.

I know it’s been said before. I know that you are all aware of it. I know the technology is commonplace. I know all these things

But deep inside me, I know it’s really ………MAGIC!

It’s as magic as taking 2 (or sometimes 4or 5 –yes, yes or even 2 connected by a piece of cord) sticks and a piece of string (or wool or cashmere or silk or linen or cotton or quiviut or a mix or even acrylic) and turning them into something beautiful and usually functional that has filled your heart and made you into an artist and creator.

It is as magic as making friends that you’ve never met, or seen or heard their voices – but you have laughed with them, advised them, chatted to them and commiserated with them and cried with them and felt a deep sense of satisfaction when they solve their problems and finish their projects.

It’s as magic as worrying about these people and their families and pets if you don’t hear from them.

And it’s as magic as looking at a photo, and feeling you're looking through a window into their lives (but in a nice non-stalkerish or peeping tom way!).

The magic is not the technology – though it’s pretty impressive!

The magic is the people!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pride goeth before a ......dropped stitch

Remember yesterday's post? I was cock-a-hoop because I had done 3 pattern repeats of the Monkey sock and was just feeling as if I had really got lace knitting? Should have kept ma fool mouth shut!

Last night was a disaster - yes, I still did 3 repeats - took lots longer, because my stitch count kept going out, and I had to keep tinking and tinking and tinking and.....

Finally pummelled it all into shape, got the stitch counts organised finished the three repeats (now having required about 4000 stitches instead of 2112) and.... as I admired my work I found the dropped stitch that had put all the stitch counts out! 2 repeats back!

I was too tired to do the fix last night. I have the crochet hook in the stitch and I will slowly and very very carefully work my way through the pattern and fix it. Tonight. When I sit down to knit.

I hate making these repairs - I'm pretty good at it (of necessity - because I'm likely to make mistakes in my knitting constantly), but it's not my favourite thing. Give me a cr****et hook and I can usually do the repair. So I will. Tonight.

You might also note in the not-very-good photo the ziplock bag which my sock-in-progress usually resides inside. As the yarn is handwound, it is not a beloved centre pull ball. I pull out the knitting bit, leave the wool in the bag, 3/4 zip it and the yarn gently rolls out, instead of bouncing across the floor collecting the debis usually left by 2 munchkins and a cat. Gotta love the ziplocks. (For more on ziplocks, zap across to Rose Red's blog for a discussion)

Around half my stash resides inside ziplocks of various sizes. But the best stash bags are the clear, square plastic zippered bags that quilts and blankets come in. I have four of these and am always on the lookout for more. One for sock yarn, one for Chunky yarns and 2 for DK.

This is part of my stash. My husband developed a strange facial tic when he realised that the walk in linen cupboard could not be walked into anymore. I still have no idea what he was doing in there. He never looks in the linen cupboard. Dammit, Dammit Dammit. Now he keeps a closer eye on my stash, and I have to get more adventurous in my stashing!

I may have an update on the health of the perfect coffe machine later today - I'll let you know!

Off to get lunch for munchkins! Last night was meatballs, sauteed King Edward potatoes (I'm Tasmanian - we know our spuds down here - not like Queenslanders!), a tomato, garlic and onion sauce, and Tollhouse cookies for dessert. Lunch is leftovers!

Monday, July 9, 2007


The house is quiet. The TV is off, there is no music playing, I can hear birds outside, the sun is shining through the window, the frost has melted, I have just finished my first ever chai latte - I have the house to myself....

Let's Party!!!!

Well, not really. On Tuesday mornings (plague permitting), I have one child at kindergarten and one at child care - this is my morning off - 3 and 1/2 hourse of my time - that's it for the week. Occasionally I have a massage,mostly I clean or gardden, generally I frantically run errands without 2 children to get in and out of the car, into strollers, into shops - some days it's like herding cats!

Today is MY day. I cleaned at the weekend. I have washing on and I've been having a bit of a blogfest. I have discovered a wonderful blog - Black Dog Knits! What a woman! She has the most wonderful patterns up on her blog - Free! Gratis! Gorgeous! How could I resist! I'm now thinking that the swing jumper has to be made - will it come before Juno or after?

Last night I did 3 pattern repeats on the Monkey Socks - now for you experienced lace knitters, that's probably not much - for me that's my whole 2 hour knitting period - that's 33 rows x 64 stitches - that's 2112 stitches! in 2 hours! that's over 1000 stitches an hour. I'm impressed! Usually I can only do 2 repeats of the pattern in that time.

I'll let you into a secret. I'm not a natural lace knitter. I have to concentrate on every stitch (except the knit rows) I have to have the pattern in front of me (except for F and F), The 2112 stitches does not include the half rows tinked because somehow my count got out in an exciting bit of the movie or conversation. But I love knitting lace. I love the way it looks, I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish a repeat, or even better a garment or sock.

I had no idea, back in the dark ages of the 1980's that fair isle and intarsia were supposed to be hard. I had knitted 2 jumpers and just went for it! and I finished them - and decided they weren't that hard or terrifying after all Mind you, I still have half a sleeve to do on the intarsia jumper - but all the rest is done!). But I've always been scared of lace and of cables. Now I knit lace - the Cherry bomb, a shawl, the F and F socks, scarves, the Monkeys. I'm brave - I love knitting.

I adored knitting this - Bianca's Jacket from Interweave, Fall 2006, in Jo Sharp Silkroad in Butternut, on needles a size larger than the pattern says (my usual strategy for getting a larger size without doing any maths - Please don't strike me down Oh Knitting Goddess)

Still haven't knitted a cable. What an admission. So that is why I have decided to knit Juno. I love it - love the pattern and I'm trying to get back my youthful insouciance. I look at the pattern and say 'I can do that'. But deep down - I'm afraid I can't. So that's why I'm going to.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sanity returns - except for the In-Laws

What a nice (read 'episode free') weekend!

After the expedition on Friday (and its consequences), and the stop at Waverly (they do have a website and a shade card - check here) I spent Saturday carousing with only the smaller child at a birthday party (yum, birthday cake and fairy bread - for any overseas listeners that's a slice of white bread, buttered, and covered in hundreds and thousands- multi coloured teeny tiny pinhead sized coloured balls) and lots of chat. I even had an exciting trip to the BIG supermarket (in Tasmania size is relative - it's bigger than our local) on my own!

On Saturday night the end of the first monkey sock was in sight!

Sunday, my Father-in-Law, a dear man, and his wife, who has a good heart but is rather obsessive complulsive re cleaning ,visited. This meant frantic tidying and vacuuming - oh, and don't mention the 'episodes'. I was once ill when visiting them and was sprayed with Glen 20! I think it probably gives her physical pain to visit our house - given my generally low standards in the whole house cleaning debacle. I argue that it develops my childrens' immune systems!

She just averts her eyes from the tumble weed sized dust bunnies which I have somehow failed to notice, and I pretend not to see them too! On the up side, she is a great knitter - rarely knits now as has arthritis in her fingers, but is properly appreciative of Monkey socks and me showing off my KnitPicks Options Kit, and brand new ball winder - My FiL also liked that - he is a mechanical man and thoroughly enjoyed making it go round and round!

YARN PORN WARNING! This is the Kauni yarn in natural light - I promised a photo and here it is! It feels so lush and gorgeous - still slightly greasy and 660 grams of yarny goodness just waiting for me to make it even more gorgeous. I want to do Ruth's Cardi - but the steeks terrify me - perhaps I could use the same pattern, but make it a jumper? Any suggestions?

Then last night I finished the sock - it is so beautiful - you're right Bells when you say that it looks great in nearly every yarn, I sat and envisaged battalions of Monkey socks marching through the world in all the sock yarn in my stash!! But then, what about all the other gorgeous sock patterns out there?

So I cast on for the second sock and finished the rib last night! I don't really suffer from SSK - I love knitting socks, and adore amusing sock yarns. I do really think that Cherry Tree Hill is almost the nicest sock yarn I've knitted with - it doesn't split or fluff, the colours are great and it really feels nice in your hands. What do you think? Have you found even better yarns? Tell me! My quest for the perfect sock yarn is probably never ending.

On that note, I'll leave you. Off to get more (instant) coffee! Pray for me.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Return to quarantine

Unclean! Unclean!

Well, actually it's all very clean - we had another 'episode' last night - I am NOT going to type the 'V' word again, so I've been going insane with Pine-o-cleen and if you come too near me, you're likely to be sprayed with Glen 20 as well!

I'm down about 25 hours sleep this week alone - and my coffee machine is at the doctors - other than that it's all good!

Our expedition to the big smoke went well, including a teensy yarn fix at Waverly woollen mill - 2 x 200g hanks of Jade, 2 x 200g hanks of Pansy - both 8 ply (because despite making gorgeous mohair rugs, alpaca throws and wool/silk shawls, they only sell 8 ply! - I see a slip stitch jumper in my future!

Visited relatives, had lunch drove home - that's excitement for me these day - well that and being halfway down the foot of a monket sock. Knitted the travelling scarf in the car there and back and deciding what my next big project is going to be - I thinks it will be the adapted 'Juno' from Rowan 40 - longer, split sides, slightly higher collar - what do you think?

Had a 1 woman expedition to the supermarket today for plague house supplies - mainly germ killing stuff, but despite my utter hatred and contempt for mega-corporate supermarkets - I felt as if I was on holiday - out of the house! No Children! Alone! Listening to Eliza Carthy! Loudly! Freedom!

Ain't life grand!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

News from Quarantine Central

The latest from the plague house:

Everything seems to have settled down here (cross fingers, cross eyes - uncross eyes because it makes me squint and completely unable to read typing). I will say no more in case I aggravate any major powers and they decide to strike me down for hubris again.

I will post this later today, as I won't be blogging tomorrow. If all is well, and the tradesman comes at the time agreed (stop laughing down the back) we are heading off to our local big city for an important errand.

Several weeks ago I did a dumb thing - yes yes - I do dumb things all the time, but this was spectacularly dumb, even by my standards. Having been up for the greater part of the night with a crying 2 year old (no, not vomiting. Not every blog I write involves vomit, you know. Dammit, just wrote about vomit again). I crawled downstairs in search of that elixir of the gods, coffee. About a year ago, I blew my borthday and Christmas present on obtaining a wonderful machine which produces lattes for me on a daily basis. I put water in one container, coffee beans in the other, out comes perfect espresso. Then I do it again (on a bad morning) for a doppio, and then froth milk and voila! a latte. On this particular morning I took the lids off both the water bit and the coffee bit and - that's right - full marks for the fibre fairy in the front - I put the jug of water I was holding into the coffee bit, Having predominantly cleaned up that mess, amid muttered expletives and mild panic, I refilled my jug and .......

Did it again.

That's right. I not only did this stupid thing ONCE - but I immediately REPEATED THE ACTION. That's dumb.

I blame sleep deprivation. But, this means that the perfect machine can no longer make me coffee. It has to visit the nice man who can fix it. He lives in our Northern Capital. We are going there to beg him to FIX THE MACHINE. Please. Pleeeeeeease.

Waverly woollen mill is on the way - I may need a small yarn fix - even if they only produce 8 ply.

Just to calm us all down, here is a picture of a completed garment.

It is the Chocolate Covered Cherry Bomb from Big Girl Knits, knitted from stash - a champagne coloured alpaca I bought at a Queensland school fete in 1993 which is gorgeous, brushed and has been waiting for the right project ($20 for 10 balls - wish I'd bought everything on the stall - regrets, I've had a few..) Has 238m/50gr, and knits like an 8 ply (DK), and some orange mohair I had lurking (- no names, no pack drill - can't remember its genesis). This Jacket is the reason I became TinkingBell - I'd knit one night, frog and tink everything I'd knitted the next night, re-knit it the third and re-frog and tink the fourth. Do NOT look to closely at the left hand side. There are still mistakes, but I was tinking and frogging mohair and brushed alpaca! I reached a point where I had to decide what I could live with - So I just make sure I keep that side moving whenever I wear it, and hope it's never still enough for real knitters to notice.

This blog is long enough. Let's talk again in a couple of day - keep well, and thanks for your welcome. I really appreciate the comments - I live in fear of no-one bothering to drop by!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Plague house returns to what passes for normality

Life is starting to return to normal. We are a plague house no longer (cross fingers, wish very hard). The smell of Pin-o-cleen is a memory. The towels, sheets, pillows, toys, clothes, chairs, carpets and paraphenalia are clean and dry.


I worote this yesterday (because I am all caught up in the excitement of blogging)_ - hah hah hah - it's come back and bitten me on the bum! I thought we had finished with vomit - but at 4am the 4 year old decided that I needed another lesson in what happens to pride (ie coming before a fall) and decided another vomitfest was in order - so we are right back to child not at kindergarten, other child full of rude health and the scent of Pine-o-cleen wafting through the house again - I had 36 hours of no problems and here we are again!

House looks like a bombsite. This is because two mainly healthy children have been quarantined and held inside. I pick my way through a minefield of toys, and blog - because that's a lot more fun than cleaning.

I'm not a great housekeeper. I find it difficult to get excited about something that people only notice if you DON'T do it. Who notices that the vacuuming has been done, the shower cleaned, the toilet harpicced and the windows cleaned? No-one, that's who. People only notice if you fail to do these things. How depressing. So they mainly get done - grudgingly and without enthusiasm - sort of with gritted teeth determination.

I know there are people out there who love housework. They sing as they wash up and clean windows, trill as they wash out cupboards and vacuum the cat - but I am not one of them (you will notice this if you ever come to visit!)

Cooking yes- cooking is rewarding! It's yummy andeveryone likes food. Knitting is rewarding (mostly). You knit, you relax, you make beautiful, useful items for yourself and others. The Yarn Harlot points out that knitting (even with expensive wool) works out to about one dollar an hour or less for entertainment - and that doesn't count the excitement value of wearing or giving!

There's something about using your hands and skill to create that is deeply and immensely satisfying. Even cr****t can be satisfying. Here's a little more yarn porn from my recently finished works - Canberra SnB will recognise these as the work I was knitting when I met you all (I still sigh for the possibility of a Devonport SnB)

These are the feather and fan socks from Socks, Socks, Socks, knitted in Irises from Knitting By Zen, an enabler if ever there was one. It was gorgeous to knit and looks so beautiful I can hardly wait to start another lace pair in the Roses colourway.

On a different note, for anyone in the North West (or North) of Tasmania that is interested, there is a Community Knitting Day at Adult Ed in Devonport on 14 July 2007 for World Vision - which is knitting for Mongolia this year. Come along and knit a hat, or blanket square or anything really. Register at Adult Education Tasmania - no cost!

I love to support my enablers - and bloggers, and bloggers who are also enablers - like Happy Spider and the Knitting Ninja. I also love to shop on ebay and my latest purchase is a ball winder!!!! It arrived yesterday and as soon as I work out how to use it the world is my mollusc (allergic to oysters). I will also post soon a picture of 660 grams of Kauni EQ which arrived late last week (after being opened by customs and quarantine) from Uta at this place. The Yarn is 400m/100g so that's a LOOOOOOTTTTT of yarn. Just the thought of winding it all is giving me a rash - Anny Purls points out that she had trouble getting on her wool winder (and I think she'd thinner than me so probably bought smaller skeins)- why does everyone sell skeins and hanks these days? Centre Pull balls are soo lovely!

Enough. Time to clean the kitchen and cook something!

Humbled and very, very chuffed

Thank you so much, you fibre fairies out there in the blogosphere! Thank you for your lovely welcome - and for the fact that you actually read the blog!!!

It's a very odd expereince this blogging thing - While I was revving myself up to it I was very excited - but also a little worried - for one thing, as I don't actually HAVE a life (I have children instead of one) would there be much to blog at all. For another, would it be too much like taking my clothes off in public (which happened when I was younger, slimmer and drunker - and anyway it was for art!). What I find, instead on reading your comments, is that it's more like writing a letter to friends who understand - and might I add that your comments also reveal you to me- those that understand the parenting and those fibre foxes who want to know what the sock-in-progress is knitted with - yes, this means you Spidey!

In fact, the sock in progress is 'African Grey' in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, and of course the Monkey Sock pattern from knitty.com (please don't be upset with me websites and blogs - I'm still working out how to make the links!)

As for the Lift and Separate, it's finally FINISHED!!!!!! Last night I set in the remaining sleeve, blocked it, and c*****eted around the hole for the tie. I love it very much but it was rather an exercise in endurance - all that 1x1 rib (my unfavourite stitch - not at all like 2x2.

Tonight I return to the Monkey socks. Thanks for the other comment from Tasmania too - I adore the Northern Capital of our state, which has at least one wonderful yarn shop and also Waverly Woollen mill, which apart from making lovely blankets is also a pusher of 8 ply wool. It also used to be the home of Coats Patons (which pushed from a factory outlet) but that now long gone.

Today it is pouring with much needed rain. We haven't been as droughted as states on the Big Island, but the farmers are still quite chuffed about the whole rain thing! I just remind myself that Tasmania has the same climate as Tuscany, and 2 Tasmanian wineries just took out gold medals for Pinot Noir. This is overlooked by those who mistakenly believe we have the same climate as Britain (or in the case of some North Queenslanders, Siberia). The Tuscan climate means we (editorial or royal as I am not directly involved) make great wine. Well, I am involved - I drink it!

Possibly the best thing about Knitting the Lift and separate in Geranium alpaca from Bendigo is that red wine won't show!!!

Just one more little bit of yarn porn to brighten your day. In my list of recently completed projects I forgot this one. Its a pattern from a Creative Knitting Magazine last year (I think this is the vaguely Australian version of Simply Knitting - is that right? Someone out there will know) It is knitted in Katia Nepal which took me months to track down and was eventually bought from England and sent by airmail and was STILL cheaper than buying it a Sp****ght!

This is one of the very few occasions on which I did not substitute yarn. I am a professional substituter - you will see some examples in future posts (she says almost confidently!)

Every time I wear it people comment about it - it has inspired 2 friends to take up knitting again and was almost the easiest and fastest thing I have knitted in ages - 1 night for each front and sleeve, 2 for the back and 2 for the collar - 1 for bands and one for sewing!

NB. My major knitting time is between 8 and 10pm when munchkins are in bed. Occasionally I get to knit in the car on longer trips (to our Northern Capital for example) when the Accountant drives. Knitting during the day is impossible because the damage to knitting and to persons which can be caused by a 2 year old boy with pointy metal objects should not be underestimated!!!!

Just as I finish - I would welcome any tips etc (especially on making those troublesome links and taking better blog photos) This is a huge learning curve and any help is more than welcome!!!!

Monday, July 2, 2007

The joys of parenting

Well, I'd rather hoped to compose my first post on the rareified joys of knitting, its history and the worldwide conspiracy..sorry..cabal..sorry again, community of knitters. A post about how I feel bonds between knitters and spinners which are without regard to coloour, religion, ethnicity or language as we revel together in the joy of creating through yarn........

But, you know what? I'm just too tired. The night before writing my very first ever blog entry I spent holding a bucket under my four year old daughter's chin as she spent nearly all night vomiting. Great! And just to add insult to injury, I've only just got over doing the same for my 2 year old son LAST Friday. I admit, up till now I've been spoiled. My children are rarely sick, even a sniffle. My daughter has very occasionally had a one off vomit, and my son hasn't since he was a greedy baby, and we nicknamed him 'the Happy Chucker'.

We generally breed 'em tough in Tasmania - of course they get colds, but we're used to the joys of living in a climate with 4 seasons, all of them gorgeous.

This seasonality is what makes knitting all the more rewarding - for example, I am almost finished (one sleeve to set in) my red alpaca (Bendigo) wrap cardigan (Lift and Separate from Big Girl Knits), I get to wear hand knitted socks from Autumn to the end of Spring, I'm currently wearing the Chevron jumper from Yarn issue mumble mumble, and my next project is Juno from Rowan 40 in Rowan aran - but slightly longer and with a higher neckline ala the Yarn Harlot version. I also have to finish the monkey socks from knitty.com which I started at the end of our holiday back at the beginning of June. - Oh, and my travelling mindless knitting is a feather and fan scarf adapted from the feather and fan socks in Socks Socks Socks.

But, in the depths of the night, when your 4 year old is sick, and you are standing around for the sixth time in your pajamas and a pair of explorer socks, you realise that it's cold, baby!