Thursday, August 30, 2007

I have a dream....

Absolutely typical spring weather we’re having today – pours with rain, blows with wind, sun comes out, everything goes still, warms up, buckets down – repeat the above in different order. Couldn’t be more typical spring if it tried. This means the children are housebound (at least in the cold, rainy, blustery bits) so they have been fighting.

In addition, there have been up to 7 children in the house today at varying times. I love drop-ins – and because our house is big (and my standards are low) it’s a pretty good place for kids to play on rainy days. The children weren’t here alone – their mums dropped in as well – an excuse for coffee and a gabfest. One of the mums is an import from the USA – her DH is working at our local (frequently under threat and much maligned) hospital – this hospital has rather become a political issue recently – personally I don’t care who pays to run it – they’re my taxes and I want a local hospital – politicians certainly don’t have to travel an hour to their nearest hospital!

I’m teaching her to knit – I tried to get her started on dishcloths – and that’s what I’m encouraging her to practice on, but she’s currently just practicing the knit stitch with a ball of nice wool and some bamboo needles I gave her. I believe that learning knitters should have nice materials to start with – I also believe that scarves and novelty yarn are things that novices shouldn’t have to start on.

While I now knit scarves with aplomb, for new knitters they are an often insurmountable endurance test. Why do we make new knitters start on scarves? Start on something small and achievable – like dishcloths, or hats or even mittens. Small, achievable and providing an enormous confidence boost when finished.

Let’s not even talk about novelty yarns and the beginning knitter – whose great idea was it to give new knitters something impossible to see the stitches in? The only advantage is that if a stitch is dropped you can’t see it and the knitting doesn’t particularly unravel.

It’s as if we say, ‘In order to join our Illustrious Order of Superior Knitters, you must complete this endurance test. Here, knit this scarf, which will take you forever (or at least seem like it). Knit it with awful, horrid feeling wool, on yucky plastic needles. You will not be able to see your stitches, so you will never know where and when you are succeeding and when you have difficulty. Do this thing and we will allow you to knit with yarns which feel lovely, on beautiful needles and make superb easy things which will boost your confidence a give you a sense of achievement. But only after you have been completely put off the whole idea..’

And we wonder why many enthusiastic learners never get past the scarf!

Since I have become a born again knitter, I am extremely evangelical in my approach to this knitting stuff. I love to spread the word about the wonderfulness of knitting. So I try to start beginners on lovely yarn, with needles that feel nice in their hands. I try to pick easy projects and stay away from scarves (other than for teddy).

My newly knitting friend hadn’t brought her knitting around for a while. In the middle of her practice bit was a section which looked a little odd. I examined it closely and realised that in that section she had knitted through the back of the stitch – so 2 inches of her knitting was twisted stitches. It looked nice, but different to the rest. She said she thought it felt strange while she was knitting it! We’re back on track now. I’ll get her onto purl soon – and then the world is her mollusc!

It still amazes me that all knitting is just those 2 stitches and some pointy sticks. Lace, cables, aran, colour, fairisle, intarsia, tank covers, clothes, seat covers, tea sets, art works, hats, afghans and booties. All 2 stitches. Incredible. Unbelievable. As Elizabeth Zimmermann says – ‘If children and people of limited intelligence can master this, how much easier must it be for us, with our superior intelligence’, - or words to that effect.

So take your life in your hands. Liberate some nice yarn from your stash (thickish is good), buy some nice needles on sale or from the op-shop. Prepare to be a missionary in the name of the yarn. Be evangelical. Spread the word.

Teach someone to knit something today. But not a scarf!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

See you on the dark side of the moon...

My Interweave finally arrived so I have been perusing it – and finding that I’d like to knit – well – almost everything (as usual!). My package from Ecoyarns arrived (noticed that Ms 2Paws has also ordered some A-maizing – it really does feel gorgeous and will drape just beautifully, I think. And it’s on sale! What more could you want!

The fabulous Luna eclipse last night brought out my inner wolf – a blood-red moon has a rather chilling effect – you just KNOW that the walls between realities have become very thin indeed. I, of course, was at a P and F school fete meeting – so I interrupted it regularly to check eclipse progress (and stand outside with a glass of wine – our meetings are very civilised). You know that you don’t actually have a life, when your big excitement is slipping the leash and attending a P and F meeting! If you’d like to check out photos of the eclipse, check Kate’s blog.

Whilst browsing idly through the latest Interweave I discovered an ad for an Australian company which appears to have no Australian retail outlets – but heaps in the USA – check out Wagtail Yarns from Childers Queensland – what exceptionally lovely looking yarns (yes, yes and tops for spinners),

Juno’s back still not finished (see above), but very close. I’m hoping that with the drudgery of the ribbed back out of the way, the ribbed sleeves and ribbed fronts, and ribbed bands will just FLY past! Until I get to the excitement of the collar!

Whilst at last night’s meeting, I said hello to Gracie, the guinea pig. Which reminded me of yet another one of my weird animals. Yes, settle down children, sit quietly and let Auntie Tinkingbell tell you a story.

At the end of grade 3, my parents bought me a guinea pig. Originally, it was meant to be a Christmas present, but they were hiding it in my step-grandfather’s garage. My step Grandad was extremely deaf, refused to wear a hearing aid and revved his cars until he could hear them. This was very hard on clutches and cars, and Mum decided that if the guinea pig didn’t end up deaf, it was likely to die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. So they gave it to me early. Henry was duly christened Henry Tremblenose the First (last and only), certified male and carried off to join the menagerie.

Henry was a nice guinea pig. He talked, was a great judge of character (tended to wee or poo on people he didn’t like), had a lovely hutch outside, from which he occasionally escaped, to be returned slightly soggy by the Labrador Retriever. He came inside at night and slept in a box lined with ripped up newspaper next to Dad’s homebrew barrel. He had bread and milk and night and guinea piggy stuff during the day. He made valiant efforts to eat down the lawn for us.

Then poor little Henry started to lose his hair. He also started to suddenly fall over, shriek and be unable to get up. This baldness and paralysis were deeply worrying. He used to recover, but the shrieks tended to shred everyone’s nerves. We initially put it down to proximity to the homebrew, but he didn’t improve when we moved him elsewhere.

We took him to the vet (the same vet we owned half a white pig with). Poor Henry turned out to be Henrietta. Henrietta was also apparently losing her hair from sexual deprivation. And the paralysis was psychosomatic (the guinea pig version of hysterical blindness).

Henry started to have hormone drops in her nightly bread and milk. Her hair grew back. We acquired a friend for her in the shape of a rabbit (no, not another guinea pig – one was enough – we didn’t want to be knee deep in the dratted things). Henry eventually died at the extremely advanced age of seven.

The moral of the story is…….. well, I think it’s that sexual deprivation causes hair loss. It may also be that it’s not the alcohol causing your paralysis at all (a comforting thought). Maybe it’s just that we all need friends. And bread and milk. And alcohol is not as bad for you as you thought.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What do you do all day?

Hear that? It’s the sound of my standards slipping. Those of you familiar with this blog will be amazed – because my standards are generally so low anyway. You’ll be horrified to find, that at least as regards housework, it is actually possible for them to slip even further. My obsessive compulsive relatives by marriage will be amazed that there is any further for my housekeeping standards TO slip – but I assure you that it is possible.

At least on a bad day.

In my defence, I’ve been doing other things – not housework, obviously. I’ve been cooking and washing up. I’ve been washing and drying. I’ve been mending (remarkable – how far will I go to NOT do housework). I’ve been playing with children (and putting them on and off and on and off and on and off potties and toilets), I’ve been blogging. I dusted (using a pillow chase as I changed the sheets) – I changed the sheets.

I wandered around the garden. I cooked more (empanadas for dinner the other night – lots of messing around – especially making the pastry but that’s one dinner and two days of lunches all round!). I washed up again. I put clothes away and picked up crap – sorry – toys – from the floors – and picked them up again – and again – and again.

I drank wine – not enough, obviously, but some. I decided on my next next project – apart from the Happy Clappy. I thought about knitting. I refereed fights. I told children I loved them (this is not a lie – it’s only sometimes that I try to give them away). I read them stories. I rang tradespeople and for test results and paid bills and did a media release for the P and F. I shouted at everyone. I took out the rubbish and the recycling.

I used correct grammar in my last blog and made Rachel happy.

What I didn’t do was housework of the vacuuming, floor washing, bathroom cleaning variety. And my husband asks me what I do all day. Well, I don’t do the housework.

Juno is still growing, but slowly. I wound the next skein into a ball by hand using the backs of 2 chairs as a swift. This took much less time than my last encounter with my not-very-useful cone winder. I may put it back up for auction on ebay unless the Accountant (who, as a handyman is an excellent accountant) can make it work properly.

Although, I must admit, I have been thinking how nice it would be to have a spotless house and clean windows and a beautiful garden. It must be spring. Perhaps I can get someone else to do the housework. I’ll watch. I like to watch other people do housework. Preferably while I knit socks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why are there no films I want to watch?

It’s a hard row to hoe without wine, my friends! After a beautiful spring-like weekend – during the days of which I actually did not wear a jumper for the first time since, I think, last May, today is rather gloomy.

Juno grows slowly. You may have guessed by now that acres of rib – whether 2 x 2 or 1x1 - is not my favourite knitting diversion. But last night I reached the armpits at the back, and discovered that I may have unintentionally got gauge – a pity, as I was trying to get greater than gauge – larger needles, larger size.

I am not a tight knitter, nor am I particularly loose – but I was hoping for a bit more coverage – we shall see. Tonight it’s armholes ahoy as we reach for the neckline. I must say, I adore the way it looks – if it’s too tight when I finish I will be forced to lose 10 kilos, just to make sure I wear it!

As a defence mechanism against 2 noisy, housebound children, I buried myself in my collection of Interweave Knits (all 5 of them) and decided on my next 6 projects. I find that looking through knitting publications with my fingers in my ears whilst humming tunelessly allows me to ignore the sounds of mayhem and carnage which swirl around me. I can be deaf to all but the loudest screams and still hear the cry of a really hurt child – or a desperate request for assistance in getting to the toilet – with very little effort on my part.

Part of the reason Juno grew so well last night was the excellent movie we watched – ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’. I was a bit concerned it would be rather Boy’s Own, or Action oriented, but it was great. Wry, gentle humour with laugh out loud moments and Anthony Hopkins playing a charming old NZ codger. It was a great and I heartily recommend it for plain knitting.

I adore foreign films. My only problem is that subtitles force me to watch the screen all the time, so I can only make major progress on the plainest knitting. Most American/Hollywood films allow all sorts of knitting – not only is the dialogue generally loud, the plots are currently both banal and predictable and the so-called comedy films never make me laugh enough to lose row and stitch markers, or pattern sheets onto the floor.

It may seem odd to say it, but I think recent movies are really catering to a lower common denominator than I actually thought existed. I’m not even sure who these movies are aimed at. The comedy is not particularly funny, the action seems to consist entirely of CGI special effects, the characters are annoying and unsympathetic – to say nothing of being so two dimensional that I’ve seen Birthday cards with more rounded characters.

Plots are predictable, writing is drab or expletive laden (and don’t think I’m a prude, because my range of cursing has been known to make Marines blush – now, there’s an idea for a colourway – Blushing Marine, - red, Khaki, olive, sand and brown). Overall, they’re just dull, dull, dull. And unmemorable. I’ve often been caught being completely unable to remember whether or not I’ve actually seen a particular movie, until it starts. And sometimes not even then.

I don’t get to the movies much – 2 small children make that a venture I’m not brave enough for – and quite frankly, most recent movies I couldn’t be bothered to pay good money for. Even bad money.

What’s going on with Hollywood? The rest of the world is making great movies – think France, Spain and sometimes England (providing they don’t have to cater to too many ‘Stars’). Think of some of the really interesting stuff coming out of Japan, China, Korea and Hong Kong (can’t resist a good chop-socky – or anything with Jackie Chan – who does his own stunts instead of relying on CGI). I’m only likely to bestir myself otherwise for something from Pixar.

The rest of the world makes great movies and Hollywood does lame remakes. Or remakes fairly lame TV series. Or tries to please everyone and end up pleasing no-one with half a brain.

There are so many wonderful books in the world. So many great stories, so many wonderful actors and directors and writers. So how come there are no movies I want to watch?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What did you do with June?

Thanks for your lovely comments on the Turtle Walk socks everyone. Yes, Miss Spidey – your pattern was beautiful, very easy to follow, especially your good advice about the spread of stitches on the needles. These are my new favourite socks and are made in 2 50g balls of Jojoland Melody in colour Y45 (orange/purple?) from Yarns Online – one of my very favourite enablers. If you want to get hold of the pattern – put in some high level bribery or grovelling to Miss Spidey - it’s lovely and logical to knit and unfolds on the needles very nicely – I wore them all day yesterday and they felt lovely – the pattern nice and elastic too.

So last night I finally cast on Juno – from Rowan 40, in Rowan Aran colour Gables, a russet tweed. I intend to make it longer (to hide some sins that shouldn’t be seen – especially after 2 Caesars) with a small side split for that bit and slightly higher at the neckline. Besides – it’s fairly easy knitting for most of it – 2x2 rib and then the glorious cabled collar (my challenge). I expect to be moderately bored by the rib, but it is a glorious thing.

On another note, this year has rushed past. I can’t believe that it’s September next week – the first day of spring is just around the corner. More seriously, I seem to be missing June. Now, I don’t want to point any fingers, but if any of you have 2 Junes – especially one which is almost untouched, I’d like it returned please. If you’ve ‘borrowed’ an extra June, I won’t ask any questions. No names, no pack drill.

I’ve noticed this ‘disappearing’ of whole months a lot more in the last few years. I look back on the year and realise that one, or even two, months have gone missing. I strongly suspect that people with real and interesting lives have been abstracting my months to augment their own ration. If this is you, then stop. It affects me very badly when I suddenly realise that I’m missing them and I’m staring down the barrel at Christmas with no memory of how I got there.

Speaking of Christmas, (what! We were – I distinctly remember it), I need to get some more knitting organised – Now how did you know I was going to say that! Last year was dishcloths – so I can’t do that again until NEXT year. I need to get a wriggle on with the adjusted Squatty sidekicks and maybe some wrist warmers. I visited Donyale the other day and fell in love with Gaby, but I think the time investment is greater than I’m willing to commit to, just now.

There are so many things I want to knit, that I’m really looking forward to knitting that there really aren’t enough hours in the day. (Or enough money in the piggy bank!). I’m eyeing off Bella from Knitting daily as a late spring knit – in Bendigo cotton – how nice. And there’s still the Kauni Cardi and my Noro. I’d really like to make it into a silk garden jacket/cardi of some kind – waiting for that to take shape in my mind. And then there’s the rest of the stash. To say nothing of all the socks. Oh my.

And in between times, I think I’ll find an answer to world peace, get fit and re-discover my girlish figure (ha!), be a perfect mother, develop my cooking skills, write a novel and work on my PhD.

Excuse me while I escape into fantasy land – or just go and get lunch for the munchkins.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Conscience and Unconsciousness

Children and the deluge - for your delectation.

Okay. I know I shouldn’t have done it. For once I’m not talking about buying yarn – or putting things on the credit card. Or opening another bottle of wine. Or even exceeding my broadband allocation (I HAVE to increase my plan). I shouldn’t have done it.

But I was so sick of the whining and complaining. I was tired of the whinging and sulks. I was also tired of spending the entire day dealing with wee and pooh in one form or another. I was just plain tired.

In my defence, it’s been nearly 4 (yes that’s right, FOUR) years since I have had an unbroken nights sleep. I am very lucky to get four hours of unbroken sleep, and it’s usually not even that.

I can’t remember the last time I slept from bedtime at 11 or 12 till 7am without waking up 3 or 4 times, and usually taking hours to get back to sleep.

I’ve never been a big sleeper. I used to be able to get by on 3-4 hours a night for months and months and then I’d get sick and sleep for 36 hours nearly straight. I’ve never been able to sleep in – even as a teenager. To me, sleeping in is getting up at 8am. I used to be known (when young and single) to get up, get papers and coffee and return to bed with a pile of newspapers and cup of coffee, but that wasn’t SLEEPING.

The number of times I would go out, get home at 6, sleep for an hour and then go to work were legion. The scary part was that I would DO IT AGAIN THE NEXT NIGHT! And sometimes the night after, as well.

But since I’ve had children I really, really need more sleep. It might also have something to do with getting older, but I’m not mentioning that. And I don’t get sleep. First it was pregnancy. Then it was breast feeding – then before I stopped breastfeeding number 1 it was pregnancy again. Then it was pregnancy and breastfeeding – then just pregnancy then breast feeding again for a bit over 2 years then it was a child who used to wake up in the night. And if it wasn’t one, then it was the other. Then it was Accountant snoring. Then it was children and the Accountant and a cough. So I haven’t slept through the night for nearly 4 years.

Some days I just get a little unglued when I’ve had a really bad night. But that’s no excuse.

On a lighter note, I finished the gorgeous Turtle Walk socks and they are absolutely beautiful (even if I do say so myself). Tonight I start Juno, and the next exciting socks will be Polyglot (the Return – with corrections). When the Yarn arrives, it will be Happy Clappy with Georgie and Rosered (who has probably given up on us and started her laceweiught clappy but because it’s laceweight and we’ll be working DK we might catch up though due to children our knitting time is limited). And the travelling socks.

Here, just for Rosered are the shoes from my great day.

So, just because I had no exciting knitting on the needles I was cranky. And I had no sleep (see above) And I was sick of the moaning and whining and whinging and complaining – and then the children chipped in – so I shouted at the Accountant.

Tonight he can damn well cook the dinner.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Unfit Mothers and Approaching Spring

Spring is definitely almost here. Maybe. Certainly just around the corner. If it wasn’t for the frost last night today would have been a pearl of a day.

Social interaction day for mum – we went to play group, which means getting together with other mums and chatting, while our little dears play – or tear each other limb from limb - depending on the age group, the audience and the desirability of the toy involved.

Luckily, being a beautiful day meant lots of outside play, so I could stand around ‘supervising’ them, while actually knitting my travelling sock (blue faux fairisle Patonyle), and occasionally saying ‘No’, Well done’, or ‘STOP THAT!’.

I tuck the ball into the wrap over bit of my Lift and Separate, and knit furiously, got the cuff and some leg done today.

Last night I almost finished the Turtle Walk socks – one more pattern repeat and the toe and we’re outta here! They look just beautiful. New broadband allocation tomorrow so you can see pictures – and just for Rose Red I will include some of the shoes!!

Even ordered my Happy Clappy KAL yarn (A-maizing from Ecoyarns), so I’m feeling ready to go. Mind you, I was seduced by the fact that silk was on sale so I ordered some of that too – I’m a lost cause – really I am.

I felt slightly better when I read the Yarn Harlot’s post today, at least about the WIPs – with just 2 pairs of socks, I am way behind her WIP level. But Juno beckons, so at least I have 1 ball – hand rolled, so it’s a ziplock candidate. I also won some Knitpicks DPNs on ebay – in a 2.5mm – which the LYS doesn’t stock so I’m feeling waaaaayyyyy ahead of the game.

Kids are being kids today – so there’s been an awful lot of following them around cleaning up messes – including THAT sort of mess – so I’ll be very pleased to have a glass or so of something alcoholic tonight. Dinner’s almost certainly sausages, new Kipflers and broccoli – cooked while I read the gourmet delights I COULD be cooking from the new Delicious.

Tomorrow I’ll make something more exciting and worthy of respect.

I’ve decided that I am an unfit mother. I’m so unfit I pant when I run up a bill. So I’ve decided to work on becoming fitter. This means walking – not being nicer to the children! It’s always been well known I’m a completely unfit mother that way – Fiona O’Loughlin is my role model for motherhood – except for the ciggies – gave them up long ago and have no intention of starting again – just the wine, humour, and lack of respect for modern parenting methods – that’s what I like about her!

Drunken unfit mothers of the world unite!!! You have nothing to lose but your dignity!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Good Days and Great Days

You know it’s a GOOD day when:

You wake up and the sun is shining and it’s warm and NOT FROSTY and the sky is blue and it feels like spring and the first bluebell is out and the garden is full of spring flowers that have required absolutely no effort from you!;

It’s your morning off and motherhood stops at just after 9am and doesn’t resume until 12.30;

You get the mail and there’s Pansy dyed sock yarn from Spidey, 3 kilos of coffee and 1 kilo of chocolate you ordered on the internet from Coffee Hit, and the new issue of Delicious;

You know it’s a GREAT day when:

The Accountant tells you that you can keep the Medicare money because it’s 50 bucks and it’s lots more than that and you pop some money into your credit card instead of out of it;

You pop into Rivers on the off chance and there are 2 pairs of perfect shoes (one black Mary Janes, one red leather and they are 29 dollars and you have the money!;

You pass the Red Cross op shop and there is a pair of sky high orange rope soled wedge espadrilles and they are your size and brand new with the price tag on and they are 4 dollars!;

You go to your LYS to buy some DPNs and they have new yarn to show you and it is called Sublime by Sirdar and it is so gorgeous you absolutely must have some (baby cashmere – merino silk and cashmere, and kid mohair – too too nice) so you lay-by some (supposedly for Christmas presents – well maybe!);

You get home with time to spare to read blogs (even though you’re over your broadband allowance (too bad)) and people have said lovely things about your last post.

How great is today? Really, really great!

Georgie, you asked about the cast-ons – and I bet you know them too!!

Knit-cast on (knit into each stitch
Cable cast on (knit between each stitch – firmer edge)
Crocheted provisional cast on
Knitted waste yarn provisional cast on
Long tail cast on
Figure eight cast on
Thumb cast on
Twisted German cast on (related to long tail but gives more stretch for sock tops or beanies)
And my favourite weirdie:
It’s a traditional Guernsey cast on for making traditional Guernseys – it involves cutting off around 8 metres of yarn, doubling it, wrapping it several times around your thumb and making stitches through the doubled over loops. I’ve no idea what it is called, but you get a sort of mock-picot look, with a knot every fourth stitch. Only ever seen it in that pattern and in one book about traditional English knitting as peculiar to the Channel Isles

So that’s 9 – but I’m sure there are more and that someone will tell me what they are (or if the Accountant buys me the Vogue Ultimate Knitting book for Christmas – as requested – I’ll learn some more.)

Gotta go – off to resume motherhood and enjoy this Great Day!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Theoretical Aspects of Knitting (and other weird stuff)

Thank you for your wonderful comments. While I haven’t yet sold my children into slavery, I have toyed with the idea of plonking them out by the roadside with a 20 dollar note attached in the hope some passer by will claim them.

The afternoon tea was a non-starter as both littlies developed various yucky illnesses – the boy had gastro and the girl a fever – we’ll do afternoon tea next week. That’s the problem with having birthdays in winter – it tends to laughs in the time of cholera, or plague or possibly flu. The latest flu scare is a little worrying – with strong and healthy people dying of flu.

I’ve had flu – in fact I used to welcome a decent dose of the flu in winter – not only did you get to spend a couple of days in bed or convalescing in a big armchair drinking cups of tea and knitting, but you could usually count on losing 5 kilos with absolutely no effort – I used to think of it as the no fuss winter weight loss program.

As you can tell, I haven’t had the flu for years (that’s my excuse for the Junoesque figure) and, let’s face it, being sick certainly lost it gloss when children came along. When I was young, being sick meant a day or so in bed, a pile of magazines, tinned tomato soup (a treat in our house) flat lemonade, crackers and mother’s soothing hands on my forehead.

Apart from a short spell at uni with a gay flatmate who gave me similar care, being sick hasn’t been as much fun since! But even after that, the prospect of a few days off from work and schlepping around the house, or lying on the sofa had its own appeal. Once you have children, forget about restful illness.

I look back rather wistfully on my time in hospital – daughter was a difficult pregnancy and I was on first name terms with the staff on the women’s and children’s ward after several admissions. I spent 2 weeks in their care trying not to have a baby (it worked until 34 weeks) and I thoroughly enjoyed it – people brought me meals, cups of tea and made my bed. I was fussed over and for 3 weeks or so I didn’t have to do the washing, ironing or washing up. As I look back, it was a holiday.

The second pregnancy only had one week in after the C-section, but even that was a pleasant break. I can see why my grandmother (who had 5 children) loved the 3 weeks in hospital that each new baby brought in those days. I remember her saying that ‘People brought me cups of tea!’- an unaccustomed treat for her. These days of course, it’s 3 days in hospital for a natural birth and five for a C-sec. Unless you’re a private patient – then you get a week for a C-section.

Had a lovely morning at Community Knitting yesterday. The same group from the first one, and a nice gossip. I got through 2 more of Taph’s beanies in around 3 and ½ hours – and the interesting thing was – all these ladies of a certain age – mainly in their 60s or so, and they were fascinated by my socks (I was wearing Spidey’s rainbow socks – heels re-knitted last week and had taken my sock knitting bag because it has my paraphernalia – scissors, darning needles etc- and one completed turtle walk sock). And when I cast on for the beanie using a twisted German cast-on, five of them clustered around for a lesson.

It struck me that these women had been knitting all their lives – for themselves and their families, for charities and presents, but they had never set out to learn more about knitting. They are all wonderful knitters, they can fair isle and cable, a couple have done intarsia. Most (I’m envious) can crochet, but they cast on and off one way. They knit but they don’t set out to extend their skills or learn the history of knitting. I’ve been vaguely obsessive for just over a year. I know and use 8 different ways to cast on, knit all sorts of stuff, know about the history and techniques.

This isn’t to say I’m an expert – or even a good knitter – I’m not on my learner’s licence, but I’m probably on my ‘P’ plates. I have aspirations. I am interested. I want to learn lots more about my chosen craft. I want to understand it.

One of the ladies said she couldn’t teach her left handed daughter to knit. I asked if she would be better learning the continental method. They all looked at me as if I were from Mars. I explained that the left hand did all the work, demonstrated (badly- I’m not good at the continental method) and suggested that some people fairisle this way, because they can have the colours in different hands. They still looked at me very oddly.

These are really good knitters. They make beautiful objects. Most of them have been knitting for longer than I’ve been alive. And I have more technical – and theoretical - knowledge than them. To say I was gobsmacked was putting it mildly!

So thank you to all of you – all you bloggers who support me and keep me interested and obsessive. Who discuss the technical and theoretical aspects of our chosen craft. Who encourage me to extend my skills and KAL and try the new. Who provide beautiful pictures of WIPS which make me slaver with covetousness. Who provide advice and encouragement and funny and smart comments. Who make me laugh as I vicariously join you in your lives. This WIPs for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Angling for a holiday (or some time off)

Well, there’s nothing like starting off your day with a pap smear and blood test! Or being woken by the whining of … sorry, laughter of little children.

Destructoboy’s 3rd birthday today – but I had to race off to a doctor’s appointment for the aforementioned checks (my strategy for not spending time in waiting rooms revolves around trying to get the first appointment of the day, before they get a chance to run too far behind – I have been known to give doctors a bill for my time – charged at my consultancy rates!).

He has been asking for a torch for ages (so did Princess for her 3rd birthday) so he got a Torch truck and various other goodies. This afternoon some friends are bringing their littlies around for a visit and afternoon tea. This will involve fairy bread (it’s not really a birthday without fairy bread), chips (crisps), apple tea cake and muffins. You can see I’m going all out on this one!

Truth to tell, I’m just exhausted. I’ve still got the lurking lurgy, I’ve got a convalescent husband (I keep snapping ‘it’s not as bad as a c-section, stop being such a girl’), I’m still chasing my daughter with eye drops and at least Destructoboy can be fairly said to be toilet trained now. Quite frankly, I’d be happy to go to bed, lock the door and let them fight over a packet of mixed lollies for dinner!

Why is it that mothers are always so tired? How come we never seem to get any time off? Heavens above, you only get 10 years for murder – and you’re likely to have time off for good behaviour!

I don’t even get to go to the toilet without small voices outside demanding to be let in – afraid that I’ll sneak out the bathroom window and run away if they don’t keep their eyes on me. (And don't think I haven't been tempted!)

On a lighter note, I re-knitted the heels on the 3 socks my Crocs ate. This took up valuable knitting time, but it’s like finishing 3 pairs of socks all at once!!! I also cast on for the second Turtle Walk sock. I had a parcel from England yesterday with Rowanspun mist grey DK, and I’m waiting for the arrival of some Yorkshire Aran. Apart from the purchase of some yarn for the Happy Clappy KAL, I’m not going to buy any wool for a while.

Well probably not. Unless it’s a bargain. Or too beautiful to resist. Or sock yarn. Or something involving silk. Or cashmere.

Oh, poop! Who am I trying to kid? We all know that if I have money, or room on my credit card, that I will buy more yarn if it offers itself to me. Even if I have to chase it down and crash tackle it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Return to Sickbay

It’s been General Hospital around here lately. Yesterday was the call and in keeping with repairmen arriving 5 hours early, our doctor’s appointment was actually ON TIME!

I only had to pretend to be Wonderparent for around 5 minutes, and in the surgery itself – remarkable! Of course, the doctor wasn’t on for having to put drops in the wriggling Princess’s eyes every 4 hours – was he?? – nononono!!

Georgie has suggested a Clapotis KAL. Me – I think it’s a great idea – we’ll work out details at some point – it sounds like we both have a tiny procrastination gene in our make-up, so maybe we can errrrrr ‘encourage’ each other! I somehow don’t think I’ll be making it in the 4 skeins of Lion and Lamb suggested, so we’ll need to consult with the experts about appropriate substitutes (for appropriate please read ‘inexpensive or already in stash!’). By the way – Experts means you lot! RoseRed, what did you do your first one in?

Have you noticed that the Fall Interweave is meant to be out – I shall now harass the local post office on a frequent basis until it arrives – they have some very nice sock patterns on the website though (another load of download – maybe I should sneak that in while the Accountant is post-operative).

Yes, that’s the other General Hospital moment. The Accountant is having day surgery (read - the local health system is in too much disarray to actually admit you for this procedure, and we haven’t yet received the Prime Minister’s promised 45 million dollar pork barrel, sorry, election bribe, no sorry, what came over me, ummm ‘well considered assistance to the state’s health care sector and addressing of community concerns over the down-grading of the local hospital). Mind you, we’ll take the money to keep our local hospital functioning at a reasonable level – it serves around 70,000 people, so you would think we might need it.

So I took him in and watched him wheeled out toward the operating theatre. He was wearing a rather dashing hospital gown – very demure – my gowns for both C-sections seemed to be very open down the back, displaying areas of me to the world which I have worked quite hard to keep covered in mixed company for many years. His actually overlapped and tied at the side – how unfair is that.

At least I got to laugh at the paper pants – they only come in three sizes, - large, vast and hilariously enormous. Pregnant ladies and the Accountant get Hilarious! My turn to laugh uproariously at the great unsexiness of paper underwear!!

I go to pick him up in a couple of hours. My wonderful Stepmother (the Wonderful Step Mum) is minding children and staying the night in case I need assistance.

Friday is my own GP appointment (the wonderful pap smear) so despite the fact that the household generally go years between appointments with our local medical centre 3 out of 4 family members have required medical assistance in 4 days!

All I need is for Destructoboy….. Nope, not going to say it – that’s just asking for trouble. I’ll pack the knitting – Knitting while husband is post-operative is OK – groggy people need no amusing – a quiet domestic presence should qualify me for wifely sainthood!

As the house will turn into a convalescent home tomorrow, there will probably be no update on health and temper until Friday (my temper will probably be somewhere between ‘hair-trigger’ and ‘hellfire’ by then, but we’ll see).

In the meantime, I will try to keep him from noticing how much broadband I have used until – oohhh Monday or Tuesday should do! You might even get photos by then!

Monday, August 13, 2007

In sickness and in occasional health

My goodness. I had anticipated a relaxed and quiet day, drifting gently into writing a posting for my blog, perhaps undertaking one or two not too strenuous jobs on my 3 hours off, but alas, it was not to be!

Firstly – the men came to collect the fridge (5 hours EARLY – is this a record?) only to discover that it had spontane3ously recovered, and should no longer need major surgery. I am not entirely convinced of its wellness, so I have stuffed a thermometer in a glass of water and placed it in the middle shelf – just in case. I will see how cold it gets over the course of the day.

Then, during my perusal of, I discovered some lovely, lovely jumpers and a very nice pair of socks I hadn’t noticed before. I was actually there for the Clapotis pattern, which I keep looking at and hadn’t yet down loaded – but inspired by the talented Rose Red, I decided to do something about.

Georgie tagged me for the recipe exchange, so I sent off my recipe (quick name drop) to Barbara Coddington - if not a Yarn goddess, then certainly a Yarn demi-goddess. Quick further skite here (now that’s a word you don’t hear too much these days) I sent her the recipe which got me into the ABCs ‘Home Cooked’ cookbook last year.

Then I had to race off and collect Destructoboy from child care and shortly after returning from that, I received the dreaded CALL FROM SCHOOL. This invariably means that disaster has struck, in some form. Either (like last time) you child has had a fall and requires an immediate trip to emergency because they have suspected concussion, or they’ve thrown up everywhere, or (this hasn’t yet happened but I dread the possibility) they’ve found nits in your child’s hair and they must be immediately removed from school. Princess only attends 2 days per week and I’ve already had 2 calls. This is number 3.

Today it’s suspected conjunctivitis. Great! I have a GP apppintment shortly, have arranged to drop off Destructoboy at the Accountant’s office and take her to the no doubt extended wait at the GPs rooms. Can’t really take knitting as I’ll no doubt need to read to daughter – or at least be publicly seen to display parenting skills – dammit!

Speaking of knitting, I finally finished the first Turtle Walk sock and it looks just lovely. The whole has done Spidey’s design justice and I would have cast on for sock 2 immediately, except for the fact that I had to start a rather belated birthday present – the Wrist Warmers in Silk Road ‘Eden’. I’ve done to the end of the thumb opening and will finish that one tonight and hopefully get most of the second one done tonight.

The recipient is a non-knitter who nonetheless appreciates knitting – she is a mad gardener – so wrist warmers are likely to come in handy!

Gotta go – photos tomorrow – providing the Accountant hasn’t noticed that I’m over my broadband allocation again (with 8 days of the month to go!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

In-laws, Star Wars and Koalas

Well, I survived the onslaught on the in-laws. We had 11 for lunch – got up moderately early and made French bread, beat the living daylights out of the pumpkin soup and added coconut cream, orange juice, cardamom, garam masala and jalfreezi curry paste, put on a Christmas pudding to boil, made quiches and felt dreadful – sandpaper throat, earache, cough – had been hit by lurgy in the night – drank around 44 gallons of blackcurrant juice (possibly a slight exaggeration) and only 1 latte!

Everything went off without a hitch – the presents were wonderful, the children were angelic, the food was fine, the weather was pretty good (the flood having gone down by then) and the Accountant and I looked like fabulous, well organised parents. How wrong impressions can be!

It was the old saying about the swan all over again – you know, the one about looking serene and unruffled on the surface, while underneath the water the legs are going like egg beaters? Well, the main fridge and its associated freezer died on Monday. The man is coming tomorrow to take it away and install a new compressor. It’s currently an extremely expensive gallery for children’s art and shopping lists. Hooray for the beer fridge.

This is much smaller and means that much of my wine and San Pelligreno mineral water has been unceremoniously tipped into the pantry. The pantry is cold enough to crystallise honey and make my olive oil go solid, but it really isn’t properly cold enough for wine. Or mineral water. There’s certainly much less room than in our usual fridge.

On the up side – at least it forced me to clean the other fridge out properly.

As soon as everyone left yesterday, I promptly collapsed. I didn’t even quite get the Turtle Walk sock finished. I’m halfway through the toe decreases – photos tomorrow, I promise.

Then in the middle of all this I realised that it was a really good friend’s birthday yesterday – AND I HADN’T KNITTED HER ANYTHING! Luckily, I won’t see her till Friday, when she brings her kids over for Destructoboy’s birthday and I actually have ‘Last Minute Knitted Gifts’ out of the library (a book I think I must buy) and I will knit her the wrist warmers. So tonight’s job is to get those wrist warmers going – I have the yarn (Silk Road) and the needles in my ziplock project bag, all ready for the off.

I think the reason I didn’t finish was that we watched the last Starwars film last night. We’ve had a bit of a fest over the last week or so and watched all six in order. I must say that doing this shows how poor the most recent three (first 3 in the sixology) are in comparison to the first three. (last 3 in the sixology) The ones from the 70s and 80s are better scripted and acted, have a better story, more humour and take themselves far less seriously. The special effects were amazing for their time, but the films didn’t rely on them – they were much better all round entertainment.

The most recently made were portentous and took themselves much too seriously. Despite the stellar casts, Anakin was a pretty crappy actor and the films relied on special effects, rather than great script and story, to carry the film. They seemed too much like a cash-in exercise – too bitty and badly edited – too much jumping about.

There. That should provoke some comment. I will say that I saw the films in the 70s and 80s when they were released and loved them, and time hasn’t dimmed that love – I really think they are great romps and despite seeing them heaps of time, I still think they’re pretty well perfect – I love the mixture of action and tongue in cheek.

From the toilet training battle front – Destructoboy finally had his first poo in the big toilet – and event inspiring much praise, a present (dinosaur underpants), jellybeans and a caramello koala – I want to make sure that I don’t many more pooey pants to wash, believe me.

I have no problem with bribery – none at all! I am happy to bribe my way into old age. ‘Anything that works’, is my motto. I would have been appeasing and negotiating with terrorists and paying ransoms with no qualms whatsoever. See – it takes an attitude like this to be a really appalling parent – oh, and a pantry full of jelly beans and caramello koalas!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Floods, moats, socks and ponies

Woke up this morning to discover we have a moat!

As this house is big and old Victorian Italianate, it actually has a tower – so we look just a bit castle-y, and now we have a moat!

In the 7 ½ years we’ve lived here, this has happened 4 times. Next to our garden is a low (and usually dry) area marked in old maps as ‘Slacks Creek’. Usually it is the opposite of a Creek, but when we get lots and lots of rain and the Mersey River floods – the water takes a shortcut from river to estuary via Slack’s Creek and we have a moat.

More prosaic people may suggest it is an arm of the river, but we know what it is!

While the wind blustered and the rain came down – often horizontally - over the last 2 days, I figured this would happen at some point. Further along the north west coast people have been evacuated from their homes, and down past the Southern Capital there’s been flooding – we just get a moat.

On the knitting side of life, I should finish the first Turtle walk tonight. Last night I finished the heel and gusset– will post pictures Monday – tomorrow the entire clan of in-laws (minus my favourite sister in law) will descend upon us to celebrate the birthdays of Princess and Destructoboy. This means I need to engage in thankless drudgery involving dusting, vacuums and Shower Power. Bleuggh!

I also need to make soup and quiches, French bread and desserts, apple teacake and various other bits and bobs. I would much rather be knitting, even though I love cooking. I pulled out the yarn for Juno and I’ve investigated getting a different wool winder. Still trying to find a nice swift (one that doesn’t make sarcastic remarks would be good).

Thinking about animals again, I mentioned the horses. My second pony was Gilligan, a very Irish pony with an odd sense of humour. He loved nothing better than messing with your mind – he would pull a saddle cloth off a fence for hours – and once tiptoed (or should that be tip-hoofed?) up on my mother and removed a heedful of curlers before she even noticed! She suddenly realised that the ground around her feet was littered with them and she hadn’t felt a thing! Gilligan gave her a horsey smile (you know, the one with the upper lip pointing skyward) and ran away.

He had a strong bond with our extraordinarily dim blue Persian. I would be riding him full tilt up the hill and Kimi would streak out and throw himself down on his back right under Gilligan’s front hooves. Gilligan would screech to a halt and blow gently up and down the cat’s tummy.

I would sail over his head and land hard on my bum! This happened a number of times and was almost impossible to anticipate – I almost always ended up on the ground.

Gilligan rather liked that – he had a tendency to jump brilliantly until it really mattered. We were well known in local pony club circles for leaping enormous practice jumps and then being disqualified for refusing the first jump in the actual competition 3 times. I think we made it to the second jump once!

My other pony, Anna, was so good that it was sickening – but she couldn’t jump – she was great at gymkhana games like the bouncing pony and barrel races, but that was it. Anna was such a goody goody that if you dropped her reins in the middle of a paddock, she would still be there 3 hours later, looking virtuous. She was a sweetie, but nowhere near as interesting as Gilligan!

Someone found my blog by searching for Labrador Retrievers! – Strangely, no-one has found it yet by searching for paraplegic budgies – but I’m sure they will in time!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Labradors and Toilet Humour

Reports from the toilet-training battlefront.

My, this is so fun, I don’t think I can express it! – We’re on underpants and trousers number three and socks number 2 for the day so far (just after lunch). For the past week or so, there have been pull-ups (a useful but hideously expensive and environmentally unsound option – even when using the attractive Disney princess ones left over from this process with the Princess). Destructoboy looked particularly good in the Snow White ones, but now we’re onto real pants! This simply means more environmental damage through washing!

Let no-one tell you that toilet training is not a battle ground – I had to interrupt that sentence because the boy who was sitting on the toilet less than 2 minutes ago and was asked 10 seconds ago if he needed the toilet has had a poo in his pants. It is a war – it’s very easy to give in and go back to nappies – but I will prevail! Make that: underpants 4, trousers 3 and socks 2 for the day.

Destructoboy will be 3 next Friday. That means that I have been changing nappies with no let up for 5 years and I have had enough – I’m not going to take it any more!

Combined with a ludicrously runny nose, my major preoccupation has been dealing with debris from both ends of Destructoboy today – I follow him around with a potty in one hand and tissue in the other wiping and swiping through the day.

On a happier note, I finished the third pattern repeat for the Turtle Walk socks and nearly finished the heel flap last night. I was initially unimpressed by the sock yarn, feeling that such a lovely sock pattern deserved a much better class of yarn, but now I am really happy with it. I hadn’t realised (knitting from the centre of the ball as I am, and only seeing the outside) that it has an orange-umber core and a rainbow dyed wrap – as you knit you get quite wide but gradually changing rainbow stripes over the orange – it’s subtle and very beautiful, so I have totally revised my opinion. I am now happier that I have excellent taste in yarn to go with Spidey’s lovely pattern.

This morning we did the craft thing (the weather is a bit on the poor side – 150km/hour winds, horizontal rain, you know the sort of thing) so we did stuff – gluing sequins and buttons on other things, bits of paper, felt finger puppets – I felt momentarily like parent of the year! – It’s OK though, it wore off fairly quickly when I cleaned up the glue and small bits of paper!

I don’t believe I mentioned Luath to you. Luath was our main dog while I was a child. He was a Mundin strain black lab, very big, with the appropriate boof head and deep chest. He was a ‘watter dog’ as they are described in old books. Nothing pleased him more that swimming – except, maybe, eating. Or sleeping. Or being patted. Or riding in the back of the ute. Or the car.

He loved the water. We lived near a river. Countless afternoons were spent throwing sticks into the river for him top fetch – a game he never tired of. He also loved people swimming with him, and as my mother couldn’t swim, I was always allowed to swim in the river, if I took the dog. We trained him to come if you yelled ‘Help’ and he would tow you to the bank while you held to his collar or the scruff of his neck.

If you were just floating in the water, he would grab your arm in his soft retriever mouth and tow you anyway. This system worked really well the whole time I was growing up.

Until we took him to the beach. Where the man was snorkelling. Not only was the man patently drowning, but he had a stick in his mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happier Labrador! He towed the man in – by the stick. Luckily, the man wasn’t drowned and had a sense of humour. And didn’t sue.

Luath used to collect all sorts of things for us. When a nest of baby ducks escaped he brought them back, one by one, in his mouth. They were rather damp, but totally unscathed. As were the guineau pig, kittens and chicks. Definitely slobbered on, but no problems. I love labs. Ours died last year and I still miss him. Cats and children adored him. When I was cleaning out the freezer yesterday (our fridge has died) I still found black Labrador hairs in the bottom.

By the way, on the whole Google search thing, I am proud to announce that if you search for ‘Paraplegic budgie’ my blog is the first hit you get.

I wonder why that is?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Turtle Walks and Heavy Horses

Just as I feared! You’ve all been off doing exciting stuff – and I haven’t been there to see it all – just a day and a half I’m off the airwaves, and there you all are – knitting, cooking, playing with animals, sheep planning mass breakouts! What am I going to do with you?

So, since I’ve been absent I’ve:

1. Finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Liked it (of course) but thought it could benefit from stronger editing.


Also, can someone please tell me a) how did the sword get back to the hat? And b) How did Draco end up as the wand’s master when Snape killed Dumbledore?

2. I cast on Polyglot socks and discovered after knitting the first full repeat that there was a mistake in the pattern and I ended up doubling the number of stitches in 10 rows!!! Frogged it (2 nights work, not including the 2 nights spent untangling the skein to ball it, making a complete dog’s breakfast of my new ball winder, untangling it all again, taking the mess off the ball winder, rewinding and re-balling it by hand and putting it in a ziplock, as I would have done originally had I not had the new ball winder – decided to watch the instructional video on YouTube) and emailed the designer in a panic, only to discover there WAS a problem with the pattern but I wasn’t sent the corrected chart – she was very quick to get it to me though.

3. the feather and fan scarf at playgroup yesterday

4. Cast on a plain pair of socks in Patonyle faux fairisle for travelling and meetings

5. Cast on and did 2 pattern repeats of Happy Spider’s Turtle Walk socks in JoJoland Melody (I would have searched out some of Spidey’s own gorgeous wool, but I was so upset about the Polyglot socks I grabbed some reasonable wool from the downstairs stash)

6. Felted and semi dried the Squatty sidekick. Tips: Increases and decreases in the side stitches I think for the next couple. Slightly longer strap and less bound off stitches between the flap edges and straps. Waiting for it to dry.

It’s been wild weather here and there’s been little prospect of playing outside from about lunchtime yesterday. I’ve decided I feel a bit naked without a big knitting project, so I’m going to try the ball winder again with the Rowan for Juno.

This will bring me up to 3 WIPs – which is my limit. On the other hand. Maybe I should just finish the Turtle Walk socks and then do Juno. Decisions, Decisions.

I notice that some of you are enjoying the animal yarns (he, he). As we lived on a farm, we always had lots of animals drifting in and out of our orbit. Even the mice which lived in our house (no, not pets – the sort that come out at night and poo in the cupboards!) had names – my mother actually used to put food out for them. One (particularly fat and buck toothed) was called Mousey Tung. The extremely fat and slow moving one was called Enormouse. How they managed to stick around in a house full of cats (we always had at least 3) is beyond me!

Mostly, the sheep weren’t distinguished enough, with strong enough personalities to get their own names. Bottle fed lambs circulated through the house, drank formula out of Seppelt’s Solero sherry bottles with teats on (much to the disgust of our Brethren neighbours who were convinced we were enticing them into a life of alcohol and vice), grew strong and were either matched with a ewe who had lost lambs or were weaned and went back to the flock.

The real stars of the farm were the collection of horses. My mother was a bit scared of horses (this is a women whose hobby, prior to moving to Australia from Wales and settling down with Dad, was mountain climbing. She also went around Europe on the back of a BSA motorbike with a former boyfriend). But she was a softie (our farming practices were the source of enormous amounts of laughter from the REAL farmers around us). So she bought an elderly Clydsesdale mare, Jewel, to save her from the knackers. This cost her 45 dollars (or 2 weeks housekeeping). For 2 weeks we ate lots of porridge and potatoes. Jewel was in her early twenties (we think), was calm and placid, and suffered from chronic greasy heel, which required baths in copper sulphate and bran poultices. She generally got the sack containing the poultice off her leg and ate it (the poultice, not the sack). A bran poultice has the same ingredients as bran mash.

She hated the copper sulphate wash, so generally, someone had to distract her with food at the front end, while someone else crept around the back end with a bucket of the wash and got as close as possible before hurling the contents at her heels. She generally trotted off, but became extremely wary of buckets. If there was food in a bucket, we had to put it down and back away, allowing her to investigate its contents!

Jewel eventually died of extreme old age, having had a loving and lengthy retirement. We used to sit on her very broad back and play cards, while she ambled along eating grass (pulling herself along by her teeth). She never minded. The only time I ever saw her moving quickly was when she saw a bucket!

Monday, August 6, 2007

This is all your fault

Right, you lot!

Immediately stop being so interesting! Stop having funny things to say and making wonderful knitted things and living interesting lives – stop it immediately!

Stop knitting in public and making beautiful, enviable garments and shawls and socks and scarves and other bits and pieces! Stop it this minute!

You’re making your blogs all so interesting that I have to stop by to check on you every day – and I’m only 2 weeks into this month’s broadband allocation and I’ve already used 75% and it’s all YOUR FAULT!

If you lot weren’t such wonderful, interesting and fun people, I wouldn’t be in this situation – again!

I think I need a new plan – at least as far as the broadband goes, anyway.

So, I’m not going to check on any of you till Friday – OK, maybe Thursday. I’ll have to store it all up. I’ll expect knitterly progress reports on shawl and socks and scarves and lace and jumpers and other stuff to be on your blogs then. And then I’ll ooh and ahh and tell you how clever you are and wish I had unlimited (but very fast) broadband like they do in cities.

I also promise to tell you more about the animals who have shared my house – not all of them came to bad ends – many just died of old age after doing extremely weird and bizarre things throughout their lives with us – like the orphaned calf, Claude Hopper (go on – say it aloud – he always trod on our feet in his eagerness to get at the bottle), who my father wasn’t ever allowed to sell, and died of old age, a fat and sooky steer. He was always so tame that even when he grew up and went back into the cattle herd, he’d let me ride him.

Or Ajax, the Hereford bull who loved nothing better than people feeding him apples and curling his fringe. He once treed my grandmother (the Welsh one, Nain) up an apple tree for 3 hours as he circled around underneath while she was picking apples. She was scared of him, and started throwing apples to make him go away. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect – he thought she was feeding him – eventually we heard her plaintive cries and rescued her by luring Ajax away – with an apple!

He was much more interesting than his successors, Bearable, Capable, Disreputable, Effable and Gullible. Go on – say them aloud too. The liking for puns is an appalling family trait.

So, I’m not going to tell you about any of these. You’ll just have to wait.

I’m not even going to tell you about my lovely parcel that arrived yesterday – 6 skeins of Noro Blossom and 500gr of Silk Road in a really dark green (another swing jumper?).
You’ll just have to wait. So there. Now go back to doing interesting stuff. I’ll pop in and see what you’re doing later in the week.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Pets I have known

Thanks for all your kind words on the party front – I’m still basking in the warm parental glow that accompanied it!

Meantime, I examined some recent posts, and noticed on Knights Don’t Knit a link to the most astonishing and gobsmackingly enormous stash – Look at this! I swear – I will never suggest that my stash is getting overwhelming ever again!!

She also suggested the low maintenance goldfish as a pet – a good suggestion, but it brings me to the subject of today’s post – pets.

During my time I have owned or lived with the worlds most neurotic and downright crazy pets. So let’s start with Eloise, the suicidal goldfish.

I actually found Eloise in a pond in an abandoned gravel pit – I have no idea how she arrived there, but there she was swimming with others in the pool. To children of sixish, this was a godsend. I took Eloise home (probably in a billy or ice cream container -standard practice for tadpoles etc) and only when she was ensconced in a clear bowl on top of the fridge (we had 3 or 4 cats) did her tendencies become apparent. She would leap from the fridge top nearly 2 metres to the floor on a regular basis. We usually returned her to the bowl in time, but one day we were too late – and one of the cats seemed too full to eat dinner.

Then there was Baabaa – the orphaned lamb we bottle reared. He buddied up with the Labrador we had and thought he was a dog. He tried to herd cows. He walked behind horses. The first time my father hand sheared him, it was so bad that the ducks laughed at him. He retreated to the hen-house and refused to come out for 3 days – mind you it was possibly the absolute worst sheep haircut I have ever seen – tufts held together with Rawleighs Man and Beast ointment on the nicks!

Baabaa lived to a ripe old age (for a sheep), became enormously fat, and was driven into a heart attack by the pig we acquired from the local vet. We only owned half the pig – the vet owning the other half, but Snorty was a playful and active pig. He lived in our quarter acre chook yard – along with the ducks, occasional geese (who hated me and used to bail me up in the corner by the brambles and peck my legs), and Baabaa the sheep.

Snorty had been given to the vet as part payment for a debt and was raised by us on a diet of windfall apples, soy bean meal swept up from the wharf when the bags broke (this included the odd bottle cap and cigarette butt) and dad’s home brewed beer that used to explode in the middle of the night under the house. He thrived on this diet and when he was castrated (by the vet) my father had the gall to draw the cookbook cuts on his white skin in indelible pencil – he looked just like the diagram. This also reminded us that living on a farm meant we couldn’t hide from the origin of our food and Snorty’s eventual fate.

Snorty met his fate and my mother and I refused to eat pork for more than a year. I still feel bad about Snorty. I didn’t get so attached to the 10 ginger Tamworth pigs we got after Snorty – we called them Mao, Chauvin, Stalin, Trotsky, Marx, Pol Pot, Lenin, Kruschev, Chaplin and McCarthy – they were red pigs and Mum figured that naming McCarthy as a Communist was the least she could do. Besides, it was my job to clean out the pig house. When they left us, I still ate pork.

Probably my favourite weird pet wasn’t actually mine, but belonged to a flatmate. Genghis the paraplegic budgie had been in a serious car accident with his owner. She sustained major leg injuries and his cage slipped off the back seat and lodged under the driver’s seat. He was left unable to move his legs from the elbowy bit down. He used to balance precariously on his perch, stall in midair to land on your shoulders (he preferred wool to cotton because it gave him the chance to tangle his toes in it and bring him to a halt – polished cotton shoulders often meant a slide on landing and an uncontrolled plummet to the floor.

He used the stalling technique of landing all the time – he’d fly around and just stop flapping his wings when he reached stalling speed – then nosedive into the carpet. Genghis had a tendency to sit on your shoulder, nibble at your ears and then try to stuff your earrings into your ear – a painful and potentially injurious process.

Unfortunately, my cat of the time, Floozy, developed a fascination with Genghis. She’d sit on his mantle-piece staring at him for hours. Sometimes we’d find him on the bottom of his cage with his legs in the air, but he always recovered. When he finally went to the great birdcage in the sky, the entire household and all our friends went into mourning. He was one of the few budgies I ever really liked and admired.

I love pets – but seem to be a magnet to those with strange personality quirks – I can’t understand it. After all I’m a sane, responsible… grown – up….OK – Now I understand. No wonder they feel at home!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

It's my party

Well we’ve survived the 5th birthday party – getting to be old hands at thegame now, and it gets a bit easier in some ways as they get older. Ten little girls, and 2 little boys all 5 or nearly 5, a ‘Come as your favourite fairy tale character’ theme – the girls did Disney proud with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, 2 Snow Whites (including the Princess), a Dalmatian, a number of assorted fairies. The boys went to less effort – 1 had a tube on his nose (yep, Pinocchio in a wildlife warriors T-shirt), the other turned up as Harry Potter and took his robes off within a millisecond of arriving.

Destructoboy did not dress up. His only interest in the entire party thing was the Party food, so he sat in a high chair in solitary splendour, eating his way through chips, fairy bread and the icing on 2 cup cakes while ignoring everything else.

The kids had a great time. We did bursting balloon games, balloon races (you’ll notice we like balloons – they’re cheap, cheerful and unlikely to break the china or injure others) and pass the parcel – a prize for everyone and messages such as ‘to the person who makes the best animal noise’, who has the longest tongue, who blows the best raspberry, makes the funnniest face etc. This is as much fun for the parents as the children.

Then party food, the cake, playtime, loot bags and home – while the Accountant and I collapsed exhausted into a glass of wine.

Princess was over the moon about her presents – hooray for parents who buy crafty stuff and useful things – she scored a little over night case, which will no doubt later become a beauty case, some dolls and books and activity books. All deeply satisfying and lots of fun.

The mess was minimal and quickly cleared up – hooray for plastic plates and tablecloths and for having the food bit on a polished wooden floor – slightly louder but very easy to vacuum up – and now they’re a little older – no spillage!

Everyone was getting into the party spirit. Cat of the House (COTH) brought home a friend last night. I let him in and he was closely followed by a rather gorgeous ginger and white fellow. The ginger and white boy decided to claim the back room as his territory and was promptly hustled outside again. He would very much have liked to return inside, but I decided that one cat is enough. We once acquired a cat when I was a child because he came inside, ate everyone else’s dinner and refused to leave.

It’s an interesting way to acquire residents – ‘He followed me home, Mum – can I keep him’ has to be one of the oldest excuses for acquiring a pet (and one I used to use with remarkable frequency and success when I was younger. I love having a houseful of animals, but we are hoping to have some holidays over the next few years and animals must be cared for. I haven’t wanted another dog since our gorgeous elderly black lab died last year and while I love cars they tend to be hard on native wildlife, bells and nights inside not withstanding.

I have a feeling that rabbits and guinea pigs may just be providing meals for quolls and we’re down to 2 bantams who eat, scratch around and provide eggs for about 6 weeks a year!

Tried out my ball winder on Friday and it gave me a large tangled mass – maybe it doesn’t like the Colinette jitterbug. Managed no knitting that night as I prepared for the party instead and last night I spent the entire allocated knitting period doing 3 rounds of the Red Bird May sock of the month and then disentangling and re-balling the damn jitterbug.

Tonight ironing night (hope there’s a decent movie on) and if I’m fast I might get some knitting done. Squatty sidekick remains unfelted and Rowan aran un-balled.

As a knitter, this weekend has been an abject failure.

As a parent – maybe I’m not as appalling as I hoped.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Procrastination and Domesticity

I am the queen of procrastination.

It was a well known fact at University, that the only time my house was ever immaculate was when I had assignments due. In fact, the more assignments I had due and the more urgent they were, the better my house looked. Friends would drop over, look around and say ‘Gosh TB, if we’d known you had assignment deadlines, we wouldn’t have come in’.

I have to tidy the house, vacuum all major areas, clean the kitchen, do the washing up and make a birthday cake and cupcakes. I also have to decorate and ready the house generally for a party and attentions of 10 five year old and their parents.

So I’m writing a blog entry.

I’m very cross with the Knitting Daily. The squatty sidekick pattern is wrong, wrong, wrong!

I’ve been through it and through it – the stitch counts bear absolutely no relationship to what is actually happening on the needles – overall in the pattern, and especially on the handles and flap – I have emailed Knitting Daily to point this out and had no response. How can you have 3 sts on your needles, S1, K2otg K7, SSK, K1? Not possible!!!

So I made it up – this is what it looks like unfelted.

I will felt it on Sunday and see how it works. Have a look at the pattern – go to Knitting Daily, look at the patterns – or search their patterns under ‘Amanda’ ( I’m having broadband usage issues again)

Tell me what you think – even better, tell me AND tell Knitting Daily.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The importance of being swatched

Gauge is important. Correct tension is critical to knitting success. You should knit a swatch, measure it, adjust needle size and wash and block your swatch. You should do these things, and most of the time, I don’t.

Those of you who have been following my knitting adventures for the past month (yes – today is indeed my 1 month blogiversary) may have gathered that I am not exactly a hotshot in the swatching department. I take liberties with patterns and I only swatch when I knit for other people, and on the very rare occasions I make something fitted.

I don’t swatch because I am lazy, but mainly because instant gratification takes much too long – when I finish a project, I want to have a new project up and on the needles ASAP – and swatching takes too damn long.

I have had a couple of knitting disasters, but my standard no maths method of pattern adaptation (eg knit on a size or so larger needles because patterns don’t usually come in a proper 16/18) generally works OK. It works because natural fibres – especially wool - are forgiving. It also works because I am willing to take any disasters on the chin and frog when necessary.

In fact, some years ago, what should have been a non-swatching disaster turned into my very favourite jumper. I had made a red mohair jumper which I loathed when it was finished. So I frogged it (yes – frogged mohair) and had a play with a design and started knitting – on much bigger needles. At that time I had just lost a jumper I adored because I broke up with the man who owned it, so I was trying to recreate that size and style (I was slim, young and likely to wear only this jumper in the mornings). I started knitting and realised I was going to run out of wool – so I bought more mohair, different type and slightly different shade. I striped the front and the sleeves. I knitted a very loose funnel collar. The neck is so wide it always slips off one shoulder. It comes down to my knees. I roll up the sleeves by around 30 – 40 cms. Even now, it is almost possible to get someone else in there with me. It ought to be a disaster, horrible, unflattering, awful.

But it’s not. I adore it – I love wearing it. Every time I wear it, people offer to buy it or ask me to knit them one. Whenever I wear it I feel sexy and snuggly and warm and gorgeous. I love wearing it over black pants, black boots and a black skivvy. It is a dream of scarlet fuzziness and I have only just managed to hold on to it to protect it from acquisitive friends and boyfriends over the years.

So, maybe one day, it will happen again. I use the right needle size for socks. I swatch if I knit for others. I almost always substitute yarn and knit on larger needles. I generally knit clothes I love and love wearing. I wait for the wrath of the Knitting Goddess to descend on me. I will humbly accept the penance she is no doubt planning to give me after she wreaks her vengeance upon me. I willingly frog and tink disasters.

I accept all this – and one day I may create another perfect jumper, because I didn’t swatch.