Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside!

Thanks for all the nice comments on the house. We do love it, but it is really hard to heat (which is why I have the shivers and frozen fingers) and multicoloured carpet is just wonderful for hiding crumbs and general dust.

I am not the greatest of housekeepers, and would prefer to knit, blog or do almost anything than actually vacuum, so this is good!

Although it is an utterly beautiful day, it is freezing - frost still hasn't melted in the shaded areas, there is a LOT of snow on the mountains, and the estuary is as still as a mirror - brrrr!

Yesterday afternoon was spent in the 'green gym', as Taph calls it - we mowed the lawns for the first time in ages, so there was lots of raking and barrowing around cut grass and fallen leaves, This was all 'helped' by the children!

I'm still waiting to see everyone's homes or at least the places they love! - Zephyrama posted hers and told the wonderful story of her house - including its ghost!!

We don't have a ghost - we thought we did when we first moved in - we'd hear sort of chirpy noises in the quiet of the night and couldn't track down the cause - it sounded a bit like someone walking on a squeaky floorboard. Had us baffled for months.

We kept hearing it, and finally, when we were having a second phoneline installed the Telstra guy heard it too.

"There's our ghost", I said.

"That's not a ghost", he replied. 'The batteries in your smoke detector need replacing - that's the noise it makes to remind you!"

How prosaic! I much preferred the ghost!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'll Tell You Why I Live Where I Live

I love memes. So because I love them, I thought, for once, I’d actually start one!

I’m going to tell you why I live where I live. I’m going to show you a photo. And I’m going to tag seven people to explain why they live where THEY live and post a photo of their house (and garden) – or flat, or yurt, or caravan or whatever!

I’m interested in what takes us to certain places – what makes us want to live there – what makes our hearts sing about them and what they would miss if they were somewhere else.

I know, sometimes you don’t love where you live. Sometimes you’re there when you don’t want to be. But something keeps you there. What is it?

If you really hate your living place – how about posting about a place that does make your heart sing and your eyes light up and the photo album come out.

This is my house.

I love it! Having moved from Tasmania to Sydney when I was 4, I grew up on the North West coast – out in the country. Everyone knew everyone else and everyone knew each other’s business. Being Tasmania, many people were related. As a child, I adored it – I wandered far and wide, through the bush accompanied by our family Lab and, later, riding my horse.

As I became a teenager, I couldn’t wait to leave. The city was exotic and romantic, there was so much more happening – music, art theatre, bands, clubs – everything! At 18, I left and went to university in Hobart.

Then followed a succession of student houses shared with others and all the usual detritus of city living. I bought a house and lived in an inner city suburb – then got a dream job in another city – so I moved to Launceston – and back into shared houses! Launceston was fun – more fun than Hobart in some ways and I still lived in the inner city. I met the Accountant and off we went to Hong Kong.

There we lived on the 12th floor of an apartment block in mid-levels, in a 600 square foot flat. Hong Kong was lots of fun and we made some great friends and lived the expat life. Then we travelled and ended up in Queensland. Eight years of heat and humidity, no proper seasons (just hot and wet, cooler, jacaranda and mango). I pined for Tasmania, for four proper seasons and for proper spuds (sold by name!) and apples and berries and winter and port and fires and dry summers. My father had a stroke and that decided it.

We would move back to Tasmania, and get to spend some time with our families. In Queensland we had been burgled and I no longer felt safe there. We decided we would try and find a lovely old house. Every trip down we’d look at houses. There was no real estate boom then. That came later. People would move to the west coast of Tassie and have to return part of the Federal Government’s $7,000 grant – because the house they bought cost less than that!

We looked and looked and found this house. It was equidistant between both our families. It was near the ferry and the airport. It was just outside a beautiful little town. It had 7 acres and beautiful gardens (they are no longer quite so beautiful). We could afford it. I had seen it and the Accountant had not – photos only! We bought it and I had nightmares for weeks (what it he hated it? We’d be stuck in a house he hated!). Luckily he loved it.

We all love it. It’s cold in winter and hard to heat. But it’s a lovely happy house and it’s ours!

OK. Now for tags. Zephyrama, Bells, Taphophile, Madmad, 2Paw, Rosered, Knightly Knitter, Tell me why you live where you live – flash a photo and tell me what you love about it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

To Stash, or not to Stash, That is the Question!

Thanks so much for your supportive comments re my auxiliary ‘Yarn collection’, Based on that experience, I had to lie down with a Bex and a nice cup of tea (or as someone suggested, breathing deeply with my head between my knees)!

I was then inspired to investigate the two other – umm – ‘yarn marshalling areas’ - to see what was happening there, and the results have made me hesitant to post for some time – but here we go!

Linen Cupboard (Primary yarn area)

I have 24 jumpers worth,
plus a lace stash,
4 duvet bags (those clear square plastic bags which zip open that you get when you buy doonas or blankets) – 1 is manufactured sock yarn (Patonyle, Arwetta, Opal, Heirloom, etc etc, some handpaints and baby wool- generally a four ply collection). Some of this has overflowed to fill a 25 litre tub in the auxiliary stash. 1 is Bulky yarn; 1 is assorted 8 ply and one is luxe yarn – silks, alpaca, yumminess for special projects.
There are also 2 large plastic tubs – 1 x 55litres and 1x35 litres holding the jumper stuff,
several bags of cotton,
2 large bags of worsted weight skeins for felting projects,
3 shopping bags of novelty yarn and some other bits and pieces.
All this covers around 2 cubic metres!

Downstairs (Ancilliary yarn area, primarily devoted to sock yarn)

Here’s where I really had to put my head between my knees.
8 jumpers worth ready to go. – In project bags with patterns – all set to cast on!
98 pairs of socks worth of artisanal yarn. There’s a lot more than 98 skeins – because much of the yarn comes as 2 skeins for a pair of socks. Of course, some is effectively 2 pairs of socks per skein (Wollmeise etc) around 30 pairs worth is forming it’s own sock club – bagged up with an appropriate pattern – one which ‘spoke’ to me and I have matched up – some is real sock club – from either Red Bird or the Rockin’ Sock Club.
Some felting stuff, some cotton, some bits and piece.
My extensive downloaded pattern collection, books, magazines, pattern books and journals.

If I knit 10 jumpers a year, 10 pairs of socks a year and assorted single skein projects I have enough yarn for 9 years of jumpers, and around 15 years of socks.

Given that I am 46, is this going to be enough? Will this see me through to retirement?

I don’t think so. So now, I’m worried. I need to get some more plastic bins and get serious about acquiring a stash. I need to really start acquiring some yarn – because there are a lot of knitting years ahead of me and I’m not sure I have a large enough yarn collection to last me till I’m 80 or so.

So over the next 10 years, I’ll be talking to stash advisers, investing in yarn, sheep and alpacas. I’ll reclaim my mother’s spinning wheel and talk to Mandie about fibre. This stuff is my superannuation – and I need to get busy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ooooooh, It's Magic!

Aha – I have discovered magic loop – but by complete accident!! I’ve always been a bit scared of magic loop – I knew how it worked (in theory at least) but I’ve never tried it. To tell the truth it always seemed a bit – well – messy, really. As I understood it, there was a fair amount of pushing and sliding and fiddling about – give me DPNs any day!

But the other day I was attempting to knit a small tube on 2 circs (also something I’ve never tried before) and suddenly I realised that one of the circs was flapping helplessly, only held in place by a single wrap of yarn twisted around it while I – I was knitting round and around on one needle with a bit of it held either side of the working stitches and half the working stitches on each side of the loop – and you know what? It was easy! It wasn’t scary at all!!

And yes, there is some fiddling. And yes, there is some pulling and settling of stitches. And yes, I may not be doing it by the book (which I own but have never *blush* read), But it looked close as dammit to my understanding of magic loop – on an old style 80cm circ with the fairly inflexible cord but a smooth join! So I’m sailing on with my swap knitting, on magic loop. It’s much easier than knitting with 2 circs!

On a different note, some people have suggested that perhaps I have a, ahem, “little problem” with yarn. Well, you have to rely on your friends to tell you the truth! I just decided to organise the ancillary stash. This is the stash which lives in 6 plastic 55litre tubs in the junk room. This is not the stash which has taken over the walk in linen cupboard (making it un-walk-in-able). Nor is it the stash which lives in project bags, ready to go, in the back porch area. It is not even the stash which dwells in the downstairs cupboard (which is mainly – but not exclusively – sock yarn. To my certain knowledge there are - umm - around 4 jumpers worth of other yarns down there).

No, the ancillary stash is the more recently acquired, out-of-Accountant’s-sight stash. This is the stash which won’t fit where the other stashes live. This is also the stash which I hope the Accountant won’t necessarily notice as he virtually never goes into the junk room. (Mind you, I hoped that about the linen cupboard – it is not an area he is wont to frequent – unfortunately he had to make an emergency visit during the great gastric upset last winter – so he finally noticed what had been hiding in there. There’s much more these days).

So, I thought I could organise the tubs by yarn weight. That way, if I was suddenly struck by a bout of startitis, I could just grab the next favourite pattern and head for the appropriate tub.

I emptied out all the tubs, gasped at the amount of yarn, sorted it into piles (4ply, 8 ply/DK, Aran/Worsted, bulky, bits) and decided to count jumpers worth as I packed it up. This is adult jumpers, so we’re dealing with between 600 and 1600 grammes – or between around 1100 – 2000 (or in one case 2400) metres per lot.

I have enough yarn in the overflow stash for 47 adult jumpers.

I’ll just repeat that – 47 jumpers.

Now, I know that I also own around 8 or 9 jumpers worth (or jackets or cardigans – large items of clothing) which lives downstairs and is ready for me to cast on.

I also know that at least 25 jumper’s worth lives upatairs.

In addition, I have well over 100 skeins of sock yarn, patiently waiting for my attention.

In and around this, there are odd balls and skeins, in varying weights and sizes, bits and pieces, and a sizeable stash of lace weight.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to make a real effort to organise the stash. As I organise it, I am likely to find a proportion of yarn I have fallen out of love with. I am hoping to de-stash this yarn. Some will go to charity. Some will be presents. Some will be set aside for consideration. Some will be seeking new homes.

I don’t necessarily want less. I just want yarn I love.

NB – Quick note to Zephyrama. I entirely understand that by the Rules of Stash, I actually have only a little Bendigo wool, which was not purchased on sale, residing in my stash. I have referred to my – yarn collection – as stash, only for the purposes of illustration, not to suggest in any way, shape or form, that it is possible not only to have ‘stash’ – but ever to have ‘too much stash’. Thank you.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Deja Vu Strikes Again!

Welcome to Plague Central!

We have been badly affected by various lurgies and winter germ fests here – so my apologies for not posting the competition results for my blogiversary sooner. But you’ll still have to wait just a bit for the results!

I notice that my very first blogpost dealt with the joys of parenting, specifically the joys of dealing with – umm – gastric upsets - through the long cold watches of the night. To date, we have been spared this (except while on holiday in Fiji), and instead have varied our viruses this year by adding strep throat (me), colds (the Accountant), cold and grumpiness (the Princess) and our very first ear infection (Destructoboy). After 2 sleepless nights engendered by a throat apparently filled with shards of glass, I almost had some sleep, only to be woken by screams from the boy's room at 2am. This meant being up and moving from then on and getting him in to the doctors surgery as a sobbing, tired and crumpled mess (and that was just me) at 9am.

Luckily, our local health centre has a system on Saturday of ‘first come, first served’. Which meant we were second cab off the rank. Both the boy and I are much better now thank you, we are being very good about taking our antibiotics, especially as we both get jelly beans afterwards.

In the knitting stakes 2 baby parcels have been posted and the knitting in them was actually finished.

The first went to our friends who had their first child nearly 3 weeks ago – a little boy.

The second is for Georgie’s liitle girl, Grace, who was obviously drawn out by the yarn fumes generated by stash enhancement at Wollmeise while her mother was in labour. You have to be a really dedicated yarnie to be trying to buy hard-to-get yarn while in labour – my hat’s off to you, Georgie – I understand that QuiltingMick also helped a bit.

Now I’m just knitting WIPs and for the Cover Youself swap.

OK. Back to the competition.

And the winners are (from a random draw involving small bits of paper with everyone’s name on and a bucket – because I am far too technically inept to manage a random number generator – and besides – that way the spammer might have won!):

Drumroll please:

Bells and Geek Knitter.

Bells, I have your address; Geek Knitter – I will email you for yours – prizes will be sent when I get organised! (Soonish)

Thank you all for leaving a comment - see - all these sci fi and fantasy fans out there who knit and crochet and cook and read my blog - it makes me happy that I have met you in the last year and enjoyed your company - long may it continue!

Hurrah – all done until I next feel the urge for a competition! Hope to give you knitting updates soon – the Gathered Sweater is having its sleeves knitted, and when I can manage to count to 14 again, I’ll do some more on Juliet!