Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Wish You a Ripper Christmas and a Snappy New Year

Taken from my son's kindie class song. It rather tickled me, because it's just so Aussie - it goes:

''We wish you a ripper Christmas
A dead set ripper Christmas
A full-on ripper Christmas
and a snappy New Year''

Great song and they had such fun singing it!

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my last post, I really appreciated your help. And I love 'Six White Boomers - and, now, so do my kids!

Have a wonderful Christmas, all of you. Take care of yourselves and each other, drive carefully and safely. Take time to have fun, knit, crochet and do silly things.

And have a wonderful 2010 - and all the best for a very happy and healthy New Year.

I'll see you all in January.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bad tempered

I heard the most remarkable and amazing Christmas carol this morning. I was in the shower and listening to Macca on Australia all over and I heard 'Carol for the Wheat Country' by Zita Denholm sung by Andria (or Andra) Muhoberac. It was incredible and Australian and described the wonderful Australian Cristmas of walking down hot dusty roads, and the harvest going on and I can't find a link to it anywhere.

Nearly all our carols are about snow and winter and frost and such, and really, Christmas in Australia is not like that. Christmas in Australia is about summer and beaches and prawns and long sunny evenings and chilled champers and flowers and worry about bushfires.

It apparently appears on 'Macca by Request' and I really don't want to buy a Macca album for just one song. But I do want my kids to hear uniquely Australian Christmas Carols. We've done Carol of the Birds and the Australian Jingle Bells which is this one:

Aussie Jingle Bells

Dashing through the bush
In a rusty Holden Ute
Kicking up the dust
Esky in the boot
Kelpie by my side
Singing Christmas songs
It's summer time and I am in
My singlet, shorts & thongs


Engine's getting hot
Dodge the kangaroos
Swaggy climbs aboard
He is welcome too
All the family is there
Sitting by the pool
Christmas day, the Aussie way
By the barbecue!


Come the afternoon
Grandpa has a doze
The kids and uncle Bruce
Are swimming in their clothes
The time comes round to go
We take a family snap
Then pack the car and all shoot through
Before the washing up

Anyone know of links to Carol forthe Wheat Country? Hard I know, but just in case.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat

Yes, the Christmas knitting is complete (no, there are no pictures, some readers of this blog are to be recipients!). Mind you, I had pared it down to the minimum, but apart from knitting, it also needing felting, which has also been done. So I am currently feeling an enormous sense of accomplishment.

And, it is not often that I beat the Yarn Harlot onto a bandwagon, but this time I have done it. My French Press Slippers have just been waiting until the Christmas knitting was put of the way (seeing that I am currently feeling the felting love). Zephyrama initiated me into the slipper fold, and I am so ready. I seem to have the perfect buttons, too.

I currently feel so swamped with WIPs, with books (I request books from the library, and then all the books I have requested for the last 6 months all arrive at the same time. There is never a possibility of renewing them, so I have to try and finish 10 books in three weeks. Makes me feel under pressure.), with Christmas preparation, that any little thing I finish fills me with a great feeling of achievement. Anything.

Done the washing up? Warm glow.

Finished one sock? Yay!

Posted all overseas and interstate Christmas presents? By crikey, you're a good 'un.

Done Christmas knitting? Bursting with virtue.

Finish a book? The best, baby, the best.

Now all I have to do is finish some more WIPs, the pile of books by my bed, cleaning the house, the Christmas cards, wrapping presents, de-cluttering, losing 10 or so more kilos, the laundry, the vacuuming, the bathrooms, the dinner, commenting on blogs, the stuff needed for the end of the school year, organising the holidays and keeping the children gainfully occupied, and I'll be right. Everything will be under control.

How about you?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Having a bit of a WIP 'round...

It has been a month of WIP frenzy. Each night I put my hand into the Big Bucket o' WIPs (tm), and play Knittlotto (tm), knitting on whatever gets hauled out. A little concentrated effort on a couple of projects which may have been hanging around for a while has resulted in this:

Clapotis 2, started in May 2009 finished in November 2009 (Touch Yarn Merino and utterly gorgeous)


Radiate from, in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Luscious Single Silk in Citrine

and some secret Christmas Knitting (which isn't all finished yet)

There are also a couple of single socks and a bit more done on several other projects which have been lurking in the undergrowth for a while.

So the whole stash honesty thing doesn't look nearly so bad at present:

Knitted: 1300 grams

Inward enhancements: 1700 grams

Slightly better stats this month!

The aniversary of Mum's death passed with a family trip to beaustiful (but slightly rainy) Strahan on the West Coast of Tasmania.

There was some of this:

And some of this:

And almost a whole day of this:
The trip on the West Coast Wilderness Railway was a wonderful day despite the rain. The original was contructed over a century ago, and has been revived as a tourist route, with a 50 year old diesel locomotive for the first section, from Strahan to the base of the mountain, and then a 111 year old stem engine - named Percy because he is green - takes over and the line becomes a rack and pinion (sort of like cogs) to go over a mountain and down the other side to Queenstown.

The train stops at all the old stations along the way, includes a lovely lunch of Tasmanian gourmet bits and pieces and the kids had a wonderful time. A long day, but really interesting.

Strahan itself is lovely - and I'm ashamed to say that I haven't been down there for 17 years. We had crayfish and the local hotel had a wonderful restaurant. The old railway link between the town wharf and Regatta Point is now a walk along the side of the harbour. Macquarie Harbour is, in fact, the second largest in Australia after Port Philip Bay (Sorry, Sydneysiders!)

I intend to visit again, long before another 17 year hiatus!

There have been lots of things happeneing - mainly at the school, with the year winding up - I have atteneded sports carnivals, inter-school sports, swimming lessons, the fete, the garden opening, and have the disco (lots of kids from 5 to 12 in 'crazy' dress hitting the town until the heady hour of 8pm) and the school picnic coming up.

The time thief has struck again, because I cannot believe we are currently in December - woe is me!

Back to the scheduled Christmas Knitting!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The story so far...

The story so far, dear readers, is not for the faint-hearted.

Our heroine, who has been battling a spring cough and lurgy, decided to take action last night and informed all and sundry of her intention to sleep in on Saturday morning. Nothing would get her out of bed, she declared, but the last trump.

Enter the morning, in a burst of sunlight - and the knowledge that one of the heroes of the epic, Destructoboy, has not only thrown up in his bed, but has then made a conscious decision to sleep in it.

Strangely, this had the effect of galvanising a very sick mother into motion and imploring the Accountant to (and I quote) "Will you stop wandering around with that damn pillow, you are spilling vomit everywhere!"

Strange how every time I consider actually getting something approaching 8 hours of sleep, something like this happens.

So I have the traditional spring/summer lurgy, which up until this morning consisted of feeling a bit yuk, and a dry polite cough. This morning, however, I sound like someone who has been smoking five packs a day and sleeping rough for the last 10 years. Not nice.

In happier news, I am a gnats whisker from finishing Radiate, and am devoting the next seven days to finishing WIPs - so hopefully, the Clapotis and a pair of socks will be off the needles.

Then I will throw myself into Christmas knitting (already organised), and Christmas presents, and into trying very hard to keep all the balls I am juggling in the air - instead of dropping the lot.

There are no pictures in this post.

Aren't you glad?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quick update for honesty!

Just a very quick update, because we are getting ready for the school fair and I have a whole lamb or so to get into the oven for roasting (I am not joking about this!)

Although it is after the end of the month, I think I should very quickly do an honesty update.

This month was good until the closing stages, when I somehow ended with the acquisition of the equivalent of 110 x 50gr balls of yarn

I have no idea how this happened - partly it was Ms 2paw escorting me to The Doomlight of Spot(tm) where they had $1 a ball reasonable yarn and Anchor Magicline for less than that and I may have acquired around ooooooh 40 balls.

Partly it was Rav destash, partly the thrill of actually being present at 2 Wollmeise updates. I have no idea how the rest happened - it just sort of stuck to me as I moved about, I think.

I managed to finish items using less than 400gr or yarn.

I have got lots of nearly finished things - so Next month will not doubt look much better.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go and wrestle some lamb, and have a cup of tea, a Bex, and a nice lie down.......

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Off balance!

I had a lovely, lovely day yesterday.

I took the Accountant's car to the car doctor in the Northern Capital (as he was hesitant about losing a day of work, and I had one of my child-free days). This meant a meet up with the delightful Ms 2paw, lots of talking and a little shopping.

We visited the Doomlight of Spot tm, amongst other lovely places, including a wonderful shop called Cocoon, which was full of wildly desireable, and completely unaffordable, hand crafted things.

Ms 2Paw also gave me presents! She said they were a late Christmas present from last year, but I feel they were simply a very early and organised one for this year!

There was a gorgeous skein of Ixchel Dr Who themed BFL and Angora 4ply, some Dr Who magnets, a lovely 'generic blue police box' zippy case (this may look exactly like a TARDIS, but we don't want Ms 2Paw hunted down by the BBC), and the most exquisite, handmade and embroidered buttons. Now I must make something worthy of their beauty!

I also forgot to mention the lovely Sock Club delivery from Needlfood, which had a pink Breast Cancer Awareness theme. I am so glad I signed up to this club - I think she may need to shoot me to be rid of me, if this is a fair example of the gorgeousness she supplies!

I will do the rather blush making stash honesty update next week, because there is something else I need to mention.

Thrity years ago next week, I waved goodbye to my parents as they went off for a holiday in New Zealand. Mum didn't know it at the time, but Dad and I had organised for her to have an adventure while she was away. She never returned,

November 28 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Mt Erebus aircrash, in which 257 people were killed, Mum amongst them (and the only Australian on board).

I was 17 years old, and this event has been central to my life. along with the associated investigations, Royal Commissions, court cases and periodic re-visiting of the events surrounding the crash of TE 901.

At the end of November, Air New Zealand are holding memorial services and various commemorations of Flight 901 and of the aircrash near Perpignan which happened a year ago. They have finally apologised for the way they treated fanilies of the victims 30 years ago, and the lessons they learned from this allowed them to be much kinder to the families of victims of the Perpignan crash.

They offered to fly me to New Zealand for the services and events. I was going to fly over there. But all this happened last Saturday and I have sent the last week feeling overwhelmed and off balance. I would have been flying over there alone. I would have had no support. I would have been gone from home 2 nights and I'm not sure how I would have coped.

So I have decided not to go. I will spend the anniversary of Mum's death with my family. We will go away for a weekend. I will have cuddles and kisses if I cry. I will have them where and when I need them.

Sometime in the next year, we will all go to New Zealand. And then I will visit the memorials. Air New Zealand are going to take messages to the Antarctic for a time capsule and we will all send something down.

But we will be together here, not there. When all is said and done, this family is also Mum's legacy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oops, I did it again (with apologies for even knowing the name of this song!)

Well, yes. It is the weekend again. And yes, I did not blog this week. And I read everyone else's blogs and try to keep up with comments, but really, if you all go out and have such a good time and then you go and sign up to Blogtoberfest, and then you blog every single day and you are not only doing stuff but blogging, well, it makes me feel just a bit inadequate.

My life sort of rolls along.

I'm knitting the same thing I was last weekend (because I had to frog more than half and re-do it).

Then I was exhausted after running, and visiting Kaydale Lodge, and the Leven Canyon. Kaydale is one of the few places in Australia to grow fritillarias and trilliums, and they are currently in bloom. They also do wonderful lunches (mainly with their own produce) and are very close to the Canyon (Different link).

We walked to the lookout up a sloping path, and it was windy and beautiful and catch-your-breath spectacular. And then we decided to walk the loop back to the car. This entailed walking down (thank all the little gods and goddesses - DOWN and not UP!) 697 steps, to the bridge and creek at the bottom.

697! Can you imagine how you'd feel walking up the dratted things? Down was bad enough - my hamstrings and lower back hurt for a couple of days, and I am fairly comfortably fit at present!. How do I know how many stairs there were, you may ask? (I did hear you asking!)

Because there are benches on the way and each bench contains information on how many stairs to the bottom from that bench, how many to the top and how many to the next bench, both up and down. I'm quite proud that I only had to read them, and not sit on them.

And then once you reach the bridge at the bottom, you have to get back up to the car park, and that means a long and very steep path. We all did it, and despite the slightly sore legs, even the kids had no problems. In fact, this may be a record, because neither of them whinged at all!

The only other news is that swimming lessons for small people have started. This has meant a total frenzy of excitement (and me having to purchase a smaller swimsuit). Destructoboy was really excited up until he had to actually get into the pool, but the kids are told that swimming classes are non-negotiable. They must be able to swim.

They don't need to be competitive swimmers, (because who wants to be getting up at 5am in the cold and dark to take them to the pool for squad training - not me!), but they must be competent and safe.

Too many children drown every year in Australia, in pools, dams, rivers and the sea. My children will not join them if I have anything to say about it (and I do). So swimming it is. The Princess loves it - as far as she is concerned, any moment not spent in the water in summer is a moment wasted. She is competent, confident and has absolutely no style! A bit like me really.

Destructoboy can't swim yet, but in a few weeks he will. Not that my vigilance around children and water will relax, but at least I can feel calmer when I see them in a pool.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Unventing (or did I invent this?)

Life has been rolling on, but the blahs returned because of yet another period of sustained rainfall. I have a feeling you can probably chart Tasmania's weather by the state of my blogging.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since my last post. I have finished socks.

Here are the Blackrose socks I made for Beth, currently winging their way across the Pacific.

Bendigo Luxury 8ply in Purple Storm, made on 3.25mm sticks. These were really big socks and took a lot of knitting. These took up most of my knitting time for a couple of weeks.

Here are the Fawkes socks I started when we were on holiday. These are my first magic loop socks - for some reason, although I have been using magic loop for all sorts of things (sleeves, hats, mitts) I had never gotten around to making socks with it. I am now a complete convert, because during the time I knitted these, I never once lost a DPN under the car seat! Not once.

Fawkes socks, 2.5mm harmony circular, Fleece Artist Somoko in Sun - yum!

Ms Madmad and I were having a conversation about how much nicer knitted garments are now than they were in days of yore. Beautiful yarn and fibres, lovely patterns, nice buttons. Having finished the Vine Yoke Cardigan and Tempest recently, both buttons heavy projects, I mentioned to Ms Madmad that since I had converted to the using of safety pins, I had no problems with button placement.

I am not sure if I invented this. After all, for years I thought I had invented the cable cast on, because everyone I knew taught me that you cast on by sticking the needle through the stitch, and when I stumbled on the idea of sticking it between the stitches and discovered it made a much cleaner, firmer edge I had no idea that it had a name. From the moment I discovered it, I never went back, and it was only much, much later when I got my hands on a stitch dictionary that I found out that not only had I not invented it, that it actually had a name.

So, the safety pin method for dealing with buttons.

First, block your item. Depending on construction, sometimes I just steam press the finished item. Sometimes I give it a soak with a tiny bit of woolwash. I spin it in the washing machine and then lay it out on the wonderful rubber alphabet tiles I bought for less than 10 dollars. I pin shawls etc, but generally not cardigans. Them I smooth out by hand and match up bands.

Matching up the bands is utterly crucial.

Given that usually you have already knitted in the buttonholes, making sure that the bands are perfectly matched is the heart of this method.

Wander off and leave the item to dry.

Occasionally, I will give it a steam press when it is dry too. Depends. Lay it on a nice flat surface, and you are good to go.

Now, grab a pile of safety pins and pin them where the buttons would go, on the underneath band. Start with the top and bottom button positions.

I generally have them horizontal, and as I go I push the closed safety pins through the buttonholes as if they were buttons. This is the crucial bit.

When they are all in position I check that the bands are still perfectly matched, and adjust the position of any safety pins.

Once you are completely happy, sew on the buttons, matching the button to the safety pin. Voila! You are done.

This all arose because of a series of button disasters, exacerbated by the problem that when I sew a button on, it stays sewn. My buttons, when I have sewn them on, never fall off, so changing the postion of a button is a nightmare. I used to use glass headed pins, but still had button disasters, and then I thought of using safety pins. They come in different sizes, so you can cover most sizes of buttonholes, they are easy to move around, but stay still when closed and they can pretend to be buttons for the purpose of this exercise.

Since I started doing this (and as far as I know I invented it, but you are all probably doing this anyway and I just didn't know), I have not had a button diaster. Not one.

So I am pretty pleased with myself (but having said that, I will now no doubt have 16 disasters in a row. Hubris works like that. I'll have to be extra careful!).

Have a good weekend, and I'll try to do exciting stuff to report back. Pray for sunshine!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Just a Thought..

I've been thinking, which is generally considered by those who know me to be a dangerous occupation.

What I've been thinking, is that I've decided to completely embargo the term 'I've lost weight'. That's it. I've sent it into coventry and I am not letting it out.

Those of you who have met Tinkingbell 1.0, may know that Tinkingbell 2.0 is a somewhat less cozy, fluffy and generally smaller version. In fact, having almost made it halfway, Tinkingbell 3.0 is likely (at some point in 2010) to be a much reduced version - slimline and sleek and 30% smaller.

But you know what? I haven't lost weight.

Losing weight implies that you have put it down somewhere and momentarily forgotten it. That perhaps you've had a senior moment and stuck it in the fridge while you were thinking of something else. That perhaps it's slipped down behind the sofa cushions, and next time you tidy up it will be there again. Or you left it on top of the car when you were getting the kids into their seats and it flew off on the road somewhere.

Since the end of April, I have been serious about working my weight off. It has taken me a fair amount of effort to eat better (and somewhat less), to cook better food for myself and my family, to make lifestyle changes so I don't follow most of my relatives and die early of major heart disease. I gave up smoking many years ago, but the weight was a risk factor in and of itself.

When I finally admitted that I was fat, I started going to the gym and strangely, I enjoyed it, but after eight months I had lost 300gr. I had, however, gone down a clothes size.

So I began attending a certain well known group. I also started sorta running (which we now know has a real name - Fartlek interval training), where I would run to a telegraph pole, then walk to the next one then stagger to the next one and so on.

But now, with the best part of 15kg (about 33 pounds) gone - and roughly the same to go, I have decided that that weight has not been lost.

Not one gram.

No. I've worked the stuff off. And it's been hard labour all the way.

So, from now on, I'm going to talk about either slimness gain, or fitness gain or working it off. Any other good suggestions?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do you remember?

Do you remember how I said I would blog more regularly and I promised there'd be photos and deathless prose?

Do you remember me saying that?

Damn. I was hoping you'd forgotten that incident.


I have been a bad blogger, and haven't blogged as much as I should, and I'm not really sure why, except that life got slightly more complicated and I got distracted and, well, whoops, here it is, however long since I blogged.

And there's Bells, looking forward to blogging every day for a month. And me. Lucky to blog once a week - but truly - I am trying for more. I don't think I'm really a candidate for Blogtoberfest though - although you might be.

In truth, the return to yucky weather brought on a severe case of the blahs, so much so that I have hardly looked at Ravelry, and I've been reading and not always commenting on your blogs. I am sorry. I can't help bad weather blahs. To put it in context, since July 1 there have been 5 days without rain in Tasmania. Five.

No wonder I've been damp. Heavens - I can tell where North is because that is the side of me without moss on it.

But it all stops here. I solemnly promise that I..


What's that?

Oh - it's some pretty knitting.

The Vine Yoke Cardigan, (anyone mention bandwagons?). As yet buttonless, but blocked. In the Naturally Sensation (10ply merino/angora 70/30, soft as a baby bunny) that I bought while in South Australia in a heat wave last summer. For some reason there were 12 skeins, at $2.50 a skein. This cardigan used - wait for it - 6 and a half skeins. Can you believe it? So, including the cost of the pattern and buttons it cost about $25 dollars! An angora cardi for 25 bucks? Happy dance for sure!

I have been trying to finish WIPs and wearing blinkers so I don't get distracted. Having finished the Vine Yoke I finally cast on some gifty socks (Blackrose, but in 8ply) and will be trying to almost monogamously work on them.

With maybe a teeny tiny side order of finishing the half a sock I have to go on a pair, a bit of garter stitch jacket and perhaps a little Radiate - just to take the edge off.

In honour of Rosered then, here are the incomings and outgoings for September.

800gr from Bendigo Woollen Mills (gifty socks and enough luxury 4 ply for a thermal)
1 skein of sock yarn

That's it.

and I have finished 2 garments but they used very little yarn
Tempest - 250gr
Vine Yoke - 325gr
Cottys - 100gr
and Fawkes may get finished tonight, so I'll throw them in too - 100gr

775gr out and 900 in

Doesn't seem fair really.

Next month may be a little worse (unless I knit MUCH faster) - I know there may be something coming in and there are some sock club parcels arriving. I am still striving for stash diminuition. Maybe I should just knit socks and stuff with sock yarn for all of 2010.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What I did on my holidays.....

We're back. The washing is done, the sheets are flapping in the breeze out on the clothesline and spring has finally happened properly. In fact, although it rained all day yesterday, it is beautiful today and was every day we were away too. Well done to the weather gods.

We started out by having 2 days in Hobart, where I managed to catch up with the amazingly talented Ms Frog Ponds Rock. Pop over and visit her blog - she is a great potter and an amazing photographer. It was just lovely to finally meet her (and swap recipes and hit the spice shop!)

We also caught up with the Knightly Knitter and her family, where she prepared an incredible meal while also demonstrating superwoman capabilities by simultaneously cooking, wrangling children, talking about knitting, knitting and refereeing several disagreements amongst the junior set - and keeping the dogs outside.

Off to Port Arthur for 2 days and, truth to tell, I was a little worried, having not been back there since the events of 1996, but it retains the same sense of peace and tranquility I always remember. I was afraid it may have become something else.

Despite its dark history, I have always loved Port Arthur. I think it is beautiful. It is hard to believe it was a brutal prison for so long, housing convicts who had committed crimes after their transportation to Van Dieman's Land.

Probably the nicest thing about our stay down there was the fact that the place where we stayed was right across the road from the back gate to the site. Once we had paid the entry fee, we were given a key and could come and go as we pleased.

It was our domain. This meant that I could sorta run in the world heritage nominated area in the morning and be the only person in there, with all this beauty all to myself.

Then we headed up the East Coast and stayed at Coles Bay. We did some of the short walks and generally hung about.

The kids did some kids stuff (including mugging for the camera) and we all generally recharged our batteries.

We built sandcastles here.
And despite the Accountant suffering a major gout attack on the first day (which meant I had no time to knit in the car because I had to drive, and this threw my plans out dreadfully!), I finally finished the Cotty socks I started at Bendigo. Here they are, in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, mediumweight in Koi Koi. Love them.
Now, I have to start looking forward to the next road trip!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Spring is Sprung! The Grass is Riz!

It's Spring, it's Spring! Or at least, it is spring today. The weather forecast is suggesting rain for the next week and for most of the rest of the month, but today it is spring. The bees are delirious with the beauty of the day - and so am I.

For the first time in weeks the washing is flapping on the line, the breeze is soft, warm and gentle, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the only clouds are the little fluffy sort. Life is good.

Life is so good, I couldn't resist sneaking on to the kids' trampoline for a bounce - which made me feel all dizzy when I got off!

In fact, life is made even better by the fact I have finally finished Tempest. The ends were a complete sod to sew in (and next time I will use Dr Bones suggestion and carry them up the sides as neatly as possible!), but she is finished and I love her. This is really the first time I have made such a form fitting knit - she is snug (and will become less so as I lose more weight - fingers crossed etc), and I'm not entirely sure about the buttons - I needed 16 - 15 plus one for luck or accidents) and they were probably larger than would be thought best because the buttonholes grew with blocking. The colours are vibrant, so I went with transparent buttons - because I couldn't find the mother of pearl ones I really wanted!

Children are on holidays and showing tendencies of becoming loud and excited, so they and the guinea pig will be outside for a fair proportion of this glorious day.

The Princess has expressed a wish to undertake some sewing, so we will be doing that shortly, and then packing will happen for our short trip. I finally have the wonderful Meet Me at Mike's book (a beautiful book and a must have for those who want to support Australian mde and especially Australian hand-made!), but todays small sewing will come from the 1970s books that have been hanging about since I was just a bit older than the Princess.

Yesterday was another rainy day, so we went to the Imaginarium, where the kids went wild, raced the (virtual) dinosaur and learned about bugs, space and puzzles. I knitted.

Have a lovely weekend. Enjoy the spring. At least until it starts raining again!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Friday

Thanks everyone for your good wishes - currently the lurgies are in retreat (fingers crossed, knocks on wood, does lucky dance etc). We have had a single day of sunshine in the past many, many days. Maybe that helped.

Random stuff:

1. Apparently, if it rains on St Swithin's Day (July 15), it will rain for 40 days. It rained on St Swithin's Day and we are now approaching a lot more than 40 days. I'm hoping I have time to go to a woodwork class, because I don't think my skills are up to building an ark, but it certainly looks as if I need to be able to. We may have had enough rain - just for a little while. In ultra-random stuff, St Swithin is also the patron saint of apples and apple trees. Who knew?

2. There is very little sign of it being spring. The bulbs are out and so are the early fruit trees, blossoming their hearts out. But it doesn't feel like spring. It's still cold. And wet (please see point 1).

3. Tempest knitting has finished, but there is still the matter of umpty zillion ends. I hate sewing in ends. I am sure there are people who can make their sewn in ends look great. Mine look crappy and I find that sewing in more than 7 in a session fills me with a level of unholy rage. I loved the knitting. If I make it again I will either make it in one colour, or I will work out a way to carry the yarn up the sides for 14 rows. I won't sew the sleeves in until the ends are dealt with. This may take some more time.

4. The Vine Yoke Cardigan is growing apace. Not only is Ysolda a genius, but I shopped from stash (or possibly from insulation, given that I have no stash, as laid out in the rules of stash), and am knitting it in the Naturally Sensation I picked up in Gawler, SA for $2.50 a skein. The yarn is gorgeous, the pattern fun, and I have a warm inner glow which only comes from feeling that you have a bargain. I even managed to get the perfect buttons for about 80 cents each.

5. The concentration on knitting large garments have meant that the enormous pile of WIPs is still sitting there, staring at me sullenly. I will get to them.

6. Stash honesty forces me to admit that some yarn may have entered the house during August, but I can't remember all of it. I know there was a little sock yarn. There was some Fleece Artist (around 3 garments worth) but I have absolutely no idea what else. I may have repressed the memory.

7. The children have been tending to act up. Part of this is from cabin fever because the weather has been so awful that they have been cooped up - although I drove them outside last weekend with a pitchfork - well, not really a pitchfork, but certainly with a high level of coercion. Partly it is tiredness. The circus school's major show is on now and over the weekend, and there have been long (and sometimes, late,) rehearsals. The concentration on one child, has meant the other child asserting rights to attention by being a right little snot. On various occasions I have comforted myself with thoughts of infanticide, child slavery or sale or return. Then they are nice, and totally disarm me!

8. On one of the nice occasions, the Princess (who spent some of her birthday money on a cookbook) decided to make breakfast, lunch and dinner. She did a wonderful job. She made pancakes, turkish bread pizzas and Tagliatelle Carbonara. Grownups did the stirring things on the gas stove, and the putting into and getting out of the oven, she did the rest. She also made little pink biscuits. I did the washing up. This behaviour is being highly encouraged. I have fantasies of never have to cook through her teenage years.

10. School holidays start today. Next week we will have a few days away, visiting Hobart (and seeing the Knightly Knitter), Port Arthur and Coles Bay. This may help with the cabin fever.

Will try a more organised post (possibly with illustrations!) soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to the Plague House

Yes. It is still winter, and around here that means lurgy time.

I have been ill. I have been aching all over, unable to swallow, running a fever of 39 degrees (that's 102.2 for Fahrenheit users) ill. I have been exhausted, dropping asleep in chairs ill. And let's not mention almost nodding off while driving the car yesterday, shall we?

It's been two weeks since I posted. I have been alive (just) and have organised 2 further birthday parties since we last spoke. On the weekend between the children's birthday, we have the grandparents to a party for both of them, so they don't have to travel twice in two weeks.

Then we had the seven kids from kindergarten for a PJ party after school on Monday. We had fairy bread, sausage rolls and little red sausages. We had pass the parcel and musical cushions. We had a supervised trip to the top of the tower and a birthday cake with bright blue icing and sparklers. It was lots of fun, and I was totally knackered afterwards.

You really can't have a party without fairy bread. In case there are people reading who don't know the glories of fairy bread, I'll explain.

You take really good quality, really really fresh white bread, spread it with butter or margarine.

Then you tip 100s and 1000s (a type of multicoloured, tiny, round sprinkle) into a plate and press the spread side of the bread into it. Then you cut it into 4 triangles and stack onto plates. Every self respecting Aussie kid loves fairy bread. I've been at a 40th birthday party where the crowd demolished 4 loaves worth of fairy bread at 1.30 in the morning - and asked for more.

I've even had a couple of days when I was too sick to knit - despite being home alone. Now that's sick. I have also been a very bad parent, and stuck on a 150 minute Spongebob DVD and instructed Destructoboy to watch it while I dozed in the chair. A very poor mother indeed.

I've also been avoiding buying yarn. I counted my indie sock yarn stash and what I discovered made me put my head between my knees and breathe very deeply for several minutes. In fact, the next project ready for my needles is the Vine Yoke Cardigan from the latest Twist Collective, and the yarn was shopped from stash (it's green Naturally Sensation - a merino/angora mix I bought while on holiday for $2.50 a skein).

That's the next project though. Before that I need to finish the second sleeve on my Tempest, do the bands and sew in a million ends.

Other than the plague (or 'tonsilitis' as the medical profession call it), the most exciting thing to enter the house has been this:
The first fibre and yarn sampler pack from Ewe Beaut. Lots of pretties in there for a convalescent to play with.

I'll get back to more regular posting soon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Status Report

Sorry - haven't been blogging - there have been one or two other things on my plate (metaphorically speaking).

Some of you probably already know that with the support and encouragment of several bloggers (including Ms KissMyFrog, The Knitting Revolutionary and the KnightlyKnitter) I have been attending Weightwatchers since the end of April. This follows the fact that I have now been attending a gym for over a year, and at that point had managed to lose a measly 300gr - although I had gone down a clothing size.

Although I was fitter, stronger faster and all that, I really did want to shed several tens of kilos which had somehow managed to stick to me over the last decade or so. So with some encuragement and trepidation off to WW I trotted.

I have now lost the first 10kg (pauses for applause, wolf whistles and wild ovation), and truth to tell, I'm feeling a bit full of myself. I still go to the gym at least 3 times a week, but I have added in some walking and sorta running. This makes me feel virtuous - and very puffed and sweaty.

I have also become somewhat boring in the food and cooking department. But not this weekend - this weekend I have been...



Fighting against junkfood, commercialism and Barbie and Bratz dolls, ignoring housework and contributing badly to climate disruption as I zoom round doing errands.

In other words, it was the Princess's birthday. She turned 7 on Sunday and we had an almost grown-up out to dinner at a restaurant for her a some friends - heavens to Betsy! They didn't get home till nearly 8 pm on Saturday night.

So while you were enjoying your weekends I had somehow managed to do this:

And this:

But best of all, I managed this:

I have been missing animals around the house. I think it is good for children to have an animal - they learn so many things from pets. This is Harriet Cuddles (no, I have no idea where the name came from either), a longish haired and very cute young guinea pig. She is much cuddled and loved. She is fed and played with.

She has been the reason for certain children waking up early on schooldays, racing downstairs, getting dressed and eating breakfast and being entirely ready for school at least 45 minutes early. Just so they can cuddle a small black guinea pig.

This is obviously the best present ever.

There has been some knitting too, but let's leave that till next time.

Happy Birthday, Princess. And welcome Harriet, long may you stay cuddly!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bendi - the hangover.

Well, I'm home, the washing is done, the case is unpacked and most of the patting and fondling of yarn has ceased (mostly).

It's that awful feeling a week after you get home from a great holiday. That feeling that it almost never happened. You know you went. You had a great time. You finally got to meet some of your bestest-ever blogbuddies. You were child- and husby-free for 2 nights and most of 3 glorious days.
You were one of the Kewl Kids in the Hustler Street Posse.

And now you're home. And the washing-up didn't get done while you were away and neither did the washing. The floor crunches underfoot - in the patches were it doesn't stick to the soles of your shoes. Your family ate fish and chips from the local takeaway one night, and pikelets the other night.

My week has been normal. Went to the gym, did my monthly stint in the school canteen (it's only open one day a week, and the school only has 150 students, so it's not terribly onerous), sorted out a birthday party and present. Then the kids got sick. Both of them. Same symptoms. Sore stomach, headache, fever (Princess was 38.1 and Destructoboy was running at over 39). This meant Friday was all about high level mothering - which is something between pedeatric nursing and being a general dogsbody - one who prays under their breath ' please don't vomit - please don't vomit'.

Saturday was convalescence day and they are still not 100%. I know this because they have not fought, screamed at one another, hit, wrestled or had tantrums for 3 days. So today we made dried berry and orange brownies.

The goreousness in my suitcase -there have been one or two questions?

The butter yellow big balls?(How obscene does that sound?) That is 4 x 200gr balls of Bendigo Woollen Mills Cameo (angora/wool mix) 10 ply. From the fabled Back Room of the woollen mill is also some denim coloured Rustic in 12 ply, some marled Rustic in 8 ply, a ball of red luxury, and courtesy of the Divine Mandie at Ewe Give me the Knits, some Bendigo Woollen Mills fibre to practice spinning. There is also 700gr of red merino top for spinning and somehow I ended up with one of SpinningWoodie's drop spindles, made of maple and sassafras.

Also from EGMTK there is some dyed fibre and 3 skeins of sock yarn, from Charlie at Ixchel some cashmere merino laceweight, some camel/bunny, some angora bunny fibre and a bunny bling batt (this is wrapped up as the bling kept escaping and attching itself to everything and everyone in sight.

A couple of skeins of Pear Tree red 4 ply snuck in there too, and some of the gorgeous silk/optim from Shiloh wool. There's also some silk/Polworth from Wendy Dennis and the gorgeous Tom, some Lara Downs pure cashmere and some of their luxury cashmere/angora bunny/merino. There's some of Donyale's utterly gorgeous baby alpaca in Sir Walter, 2 skeins of Jitterbug and I'm almost sure there are other yummies I've not named.

In addition, I had presents. Donyale gave me Norah Gaughan Volume 5, Knightly Knitter passed on a birthday present of Mason Dixon Knitting, Zephyrama gave me Feminie Knits and I have no idea how Knitting Ganseys ended up there. After a while it became a euphoric haze.....

And yes, I did manage to get clothes in there too. In fact, I bought 2 tops and a knitted cotton dress. i thought the tops were cotton rayon stuff until after I had put one through the washing machine (on cold luckily) and discovered that this shiny silkiness was in fact - wool.

So thank you to the amazing blogpals, the awesome organisers, the remarkable Ravellers and ecstatic enablers. I have already booked the husbeast for childminding for next year. I am so ready.

I don't even mind the post-Bendi hangover, as long as it means I can do it all again next year!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


It followed me home, Mum. Can I keep it?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Sleeps To Go!

It's Wednesday. It's winter. We had floods at the weekend. This meant I was the meanest mother on record, because I had promised to take my children to a lantern festival and fireworks disply.

The past weekend was our town's annual Chocolate Winterfest. We have a Belgian chocolate maker and his factory and restaurant nearby, and their chocolate festival merged to become our Chocolate Winterfest. One of the highlights is a lantern walk and fireworks display. But it rained, and rained, and rained.

And the river rose and rose.

The river burst its banks on Saturday afternoon and kept rising. This is a fairly regular event; local paddocks flood, creeks run through every slight gully and everything gets a tiny bit worse when there's a high tide (we live near an estuary).

The fireworks were postponed till Sunday night, but by then, the entire park and surrounding area where all this was going to happen was under about a metre of water. Fireworks and associated fun stuff all cancelled.

Luckily, I had left myself a caveat. "We can go to the lanterns and fireworks if it's not raining," I had said. Smart mother. Didn't stop the kids saying I was mean.

It's only 2 sleeps until I fly over to the Bendigo Wool and Sheep show, sans husband and children. This will be the first night I have ever spent apart from both my children - and I am really excited. I am even more excited to be meeting up with some internet friends, blog buddies and fellow Ravellers! It will be the first time I've met most of them in real life.

Next time I blog I will be tired, broke and home again.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I am certainly going to!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Votes are IN!

Today is like glass.

It is like crystal - ready to shatter if you shout. The air is so clear and crisp it acts like a telescope - you can look at distant hills and feel almost that you could put your hand out and touch the trees and rocks. The sky is a pale winter blue, without a cloud. The grass is so green it almost makes your eyes hurt, and breathing the air makes you feel alive and full of energy.

This of course means that last night was so cold and the frost so hard, the pipes froze and it took ages to get water to run at all, let alone heat up for a shower. I really don't mind the frost, because it means that the days are so beautiful.

Thank you for all the lovely comments on the new look. I'm not sure that it makes me look 23 (but thank you anyway, Madmad), but it is cleaner and fresher. After blogging for however long (I really can't remember - although I have a feeling it may be two years), the place needed a spruce up.

In addition, knitting is going well. Kim (the jumper) is finished in the divine Fleece Artist River (an alpaca/silk/wool mix). I swear, I was tempted to knit myself sheets from this, as it felt so soft and gorgeous. Instead, I chose to knit Kim, a knitted-in-one-piece-but-folded-like-origami number. It is not quite a cardigan and not quite a jumper, joined at the crossover, but nowhere else. It is warm and gorgeous and I like it very much.

I am hoping to have the red Flair finished before Bendigo (which is only next week! Squee!) as I suddenly feel that I have no warm clothes at all. Stop sniggering, you down the back.

The wonderful Taphophile sent me a parcel of fleecy comfort, because I was practicing my spinning and ran out of prepared fleece to keep practicing. There were also other goodies in the box - some lovely fibre for when I get better, some books for the children and some cards - but they seem to have scattered quickly to the four winds before I could take a photo. Thank you, Taph.

In other happy postal news, on Monday I received these fun things. Finally, two pattern books I have been craving for ages - Heartfelt and Thrown Together, and some Fleece Artist Somoko from the lovely Ladies at Knitting inspirations. This colour is called Forest Fairy, and is utterly delectable.

There was also a case of Sangiovese. I am very happy. I am off to enjoy some more of the day, before we return to our regularly scheduled winter weather programming, which involves grey skies, wind, fog and drizzle.


Monday, June 29, 2009

New Look (What do you think?)

You may have noticed that the blog has had a bit of a makeover.

I decided that I needed a new look - well, yes, I need a new look, take that as read - maybe six feet tall, slim, pale and masses of flaming red curls - no, sorry, that's Nicole Kidman. Sigh.

No, I decided the blog needed a new look. So when I tidied it up, I did a bit of a paint job.

I may play with it some more. We'll see. I like the colours though.

Breaking news.

Our wild social life has included a birthday party for a one year old, and having the in-laws and the lovely but blogless Jill over for lunch. Other than that, life has proceeded as usual, with the added excitement of winter and the on-going lure of hibernation.

The most exciting thing which has happened is my discovery of The Dresden Dolls - check out this film clip of one of their performances. They describe themselves as Brechtian Punk Cabaret and I have been loving their stuff. I am further investigating Amanda Palmer's solo catalogue. I love finding new and interesting music. This dark burlesque genre has passed me by until now.

Finished the Kim jumper last night, still needs to block, and the day is grey and rainy, so photos later. Today is the end of the financial year, so it seems I will need to update stash honesty. As months go, it hasn't been too bad.

Four sock club packages (Four! Count 'em! What was I thinking?) All came in June. That's 5 skeins of sock yarn, or 600gr.
A slight lapse at a wool shop sale - 10 x 50gr Grinasco Tango, 2 x 50gr Kaffe Fassett Regia. I blame Rose Red for these. If she hadn't put me on to the Grinasco, and made the Kaffe socks....
Total from there 600 gr

Total in: 1.2kg

As I don't count things unless they are actually finished I can't include half a clappy or half a pair of socks. Drat.
Kim - 5 x 125 gr - 625 gr.

1.6kg re-homed to Ravellers

One large bag of not-terribly-good yarns sent off to school for finger/French knitting - say 750gr


In - 1.2kg
Out: 2.975kg

I'm afraid next month may not look quite so good, but I hope to have more finished objects, so I can count more....or some tidying up may lead to further re-homing. We'll see.

Happy New Financial Year to you all - may your assets ever exceed your liabilities!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Again!

Thanks so much for your lovely comments - I'm back to my usual happy self now!

I will admit, though, that despite it looking terrible and chipped, I still have not been able to bring myself to remove my holiday nail varnish - because that would mean I was back to real life, where there is no point in wearing nail varnish because after a couple hours of normal wear and tear it looks awful.

A while ago, Bells posted a lovely, laughing wedding photo. So I thought (always being original) that I would do the same. The Accountant and I have been together for more than twenty years, and in a few weeks will have been living together for 20 years, but we only married in 2001.

We sort of eloped, in that we told noone, except the Accountant's sister, that we were getting married, just invited out parents (and step parents) for lunch, and after the main course, sprang on them the fact that the celebrant was due in 10 minutes, and we needed to get changed. We married in May, in the garden, under the oak tree. Our dog was there. A horse looked over the fence. It was informal and fun and cheap. Then we drank sparkling shiraz and ate cheesecake.

It also got us out of all the to-ing and fro-ing about who should be involved in the wedding and flower girls and bridesmaids and so on. I did buy a new outfit, since worn to other weddings. It was a lovely day, and one of the last photos of my Dad (He's the one laughing next to me.) The Accountant's sister was best person - she held the rings and bouquets and so on, and took some photos.

Knitting has been happening. The new jumper is up to the armholes, and I am loving the yarn and pattern and looking forward to wearing it. Children are back at school, life is happening in spite of me, and on Tuesday I finally got to see the third episode of Cranford and knitted while they were at school.

Life is full of small joys!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Post-Holiday Blahs

We're back, and I have a severe case of the post holiday blahs.

We arrived back late on Wednesday night, and the house-sitter had done her usual wonderful job. The first day back was a beautiful sunny winter day, just right for all the post holiday washing.

But since then it has been cold and grey and drizzly. The kids are in quarantine because we passed through the swine flu capital of the universe (Melbourne Airport) and after running around on a sub-tropical island, have a severe case of cabin fever.

The holiday itself was grand. We spent a week on the Gold Coast, where the children sampled the delights of the theme parks and the Princess adored Rollercoasters and the Giant drop. She made the 120cm height restriction by 2cms - and then insisted on repeating the experience. Destructoboy preferred merry-go-rounds, although he did like river rides and flume rides and the associated wetness.

Club Med Lindemen Island was lovely - although the swimming pools were freezing, even for a Tasmanian! The kids club was next to the circus school, so they had high trapeze (yes, both the 4 and 6 year old loved this), bungy bounce, their own swimming pools, and enormous climbing fort, tennis, archery, putt-putt golf, beach stuff and lots of other activities, including starring spots in the nightly shows.

I put the cocktail list to the test, was hugely active in order to be able to eat a reasonable sampling of the food which someone else had cooked - and which other people were going to wash up after. Other people cooking, washing up, cleaning and tidying up is a mothers' dream holiday!

But since we've been home I've had a severe case of blahness. There is no real reason for this, except perhaps the winter weather and its greyness. So I have been catching up on blog reading (but not commenting much, my apologies). I have cast on another jumper (of course) and pecked at the holiday socks (one done and most of one to go). I haven't done much more on the half done holiday Clapotis.

But currently it's all about the colours of a tropical sea. All my current knitting is blues, greens and turquoise. The socks are in Fleece Artist Trail Socks in Angel Fish, the Clapotis in Touch Yarn in gorgeous turquoise washed with greens and blues and the Jumper is Fleece Artist River in Nova Scotia. So maybe it's about the Fleece Artist, too.

I had all four sock club packages get into my hands either the day we left or the day we arrived back, and they are all lovely, but now I have to wait at least 2 more months for the next packages. Sigh.

It's a good thing that I have the thought of Bendi to sustain me - and the thought of my lovely kids being able to see their friends at school on Tuesday when their quarantine ends. No Hamthrax so far!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's all about the knitting, folks!

Despite my best resolution, life (and knitting) intervened.

I did think about popping in a post last week which said `Can't blog - knitting.', but decided I needed to knit more than I needed to blog. Here is the result of my labour:


The Placed Cable Aran, from Interweave knits, in 10 ply Luxury from Bendigo Woollen Mills, in the Leaf colourway. This should also qualify me for Lynne's Textured KAL.

This absolutely flew off the needles, and set a new record by being finished in 11 days. I can't believe I actually knitted a jumper in 11 days, but here's the proof. Cast on May 13, cast off May 24. The only mods I made were too make it slightly longer (could have been even longer) and to convert the sleeves, so I picked up stitches and knitted them from the top down to eliminate seaming - Oh and I knitted the body in the round to the armholes, so the only seams are at the shoulders. Took 3.25 balls of Bendi, so a bit over 1000m.

I am thrilled with it, love the pattern, the yarn, the colour and the finished product.

I also thought, although it isn't the end of the month, I'd get stash honesty out of the way. We're off on holiday on Wednesday and I don't anticipate any arrivals of squooshy parcels between now and then, so we might as well do it now.

8 balls of Tango and 5 balls of Superior (both of which I blame Rosered for): 525gr
5 balls of Bendi Luxury (see above FO): 1 kg
6 skeins of River: 600gr
2 skeins of BFL 2/8: 500gr

Total In: 2.625kg

650gr Luxury (placed cable)
600gr Allegro (gathered sweater)
100gr socks
150gr Jet (Princess's jacket from Zeph)

Total knitted:
1.5 kg

In other words, almost twice as much has come in as was knitted - despite a knitting frenzy. Sigh.

June should be better, mainly because I won't be in a position to buy any yarn, so although some sock club yarn (ahem) may arrive in my post office box, I should also be able to be about square, knitting wise.

In other news, the birdie appears to have settled in with the resident population of Little Wattle Birds, the schools holidays are much too long (this is the first day - they are tooooooo long!) and life rolls along.

We are still warm and although somewhat damp here, have been spared the utter downpours of Queensland and Northern NSW. However, with our usual perfect timing, we are about to holiday in the epicentre of this weeks floods. What fun!

If I don't get back here before we leave, have a love fortnight or so, and I'll see you in mid June!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Birds, Beasts and Relatives (with apologies to Gerald Durrell)

The strangest thing happened yesterday.

I was in the garden, picking off the last of the apples on the tree, and a bird came up and sat on the branches quite close to me. I chatted to it, as you do, told him he was brave and so on, when he flew on to my shoulder.

Now this didn't quite freak me out - I am an animal person, I can deal with most things, but a wild bird? Landing on my shoulder? Last I knew, I was not Snow White or Cinderella or one of the Disney cartoon princesses who regularly go into forests and have assorted livestock land on their heads.

This guy was a juvenile Little Wattle Bird (about 12 inches or 30cm long), and has a long beak. I would say he was a teenager - a young adult with some of his juvenile plumage still. He landed on my window sill a few days ago and just sat there when I tapped on the window. Now he is landing on my head or shoulder and is more than happy to perch on my finger.

My children are rather amazed. Obviously Mummy has supernatural powers over animals. Here he is, letting me get very close to take his picture. When I rang a friend in the local animal rescue service, her theory was that these birds are quite easy to hand rear, but in the very high winds we have had recently, he may have been blown away from home. He's probably a bit dependant on humans, and wants to be fed.

I wouldn't mind, but now he has taken to stalking me - following me from window to window and trying to sit on me when we are outside. Weird.

If you have lost a Little Wattle Bird, please feel free to contact me.

There has been knitting happening.

Here it the finished Gathered Pullover 2, in Bendi Allegro in Scarlet. I really like the feel of the fabric this makes. It was just a bit splitty to knit with, which I had expected, but is lovely. Great stitch definition. I made the neck higher and the shoulders wider. It took a while because it was the carry along mindless stoicking stitch for ages. Strangely, when I fnally paid some attention to it, it was finished very quickly.

I also finished the 2 parts Zephyrama, 1 part Tink jacket for the Princess. Zeph had sent me the mostly finished child's One Piece Ribby Jacket, in Jet, along with the extra to finish it off, due to the fact she had started it for her daughter and said daughter had grown out of it before it was finished. I think it will fit the Princess for a while. She likes it. The buttons are clear, with pink and black butterflies. She chose them.

Just because you need some proof of knitting, here is Ms Rosered, ensconced in our very messy family room, helping the Princess with her knitting. You might recognise the Pearl Buck Jacket.

Of course, much of this weekend has been taken up with the festival of bad taste and excreable music which is Eurovision. While Norway was both cute and a reasonable song, my favourites were Moldova (great boots and costume, funked up folk song and folk dancing), Portugal (once again, the folk song and costume), the Ukraine (those boots, those Trojans!), Turkey (yay, Dum Tek Tek), Estonia (gorgeous singer and song, Arwen with a fringe), Bosnia Herzegovina (who doesn't love some nice performance art?) and Armenia (great costumes).

Greece was rather up himself, the Azerbaijan entry was tediously ordinary, Iceland sounded like Celine Dion and most of the others were forgettable. The hosts were hysterical. While Barbie was cute, her co-host was a sleaze who kept peering down her dress and squeezing her. I kept thinking of the Fast Forward comedy duo, doing the Russian TV presenters "Viktor, you are very unattractive man''. If you missed out, you can watch it here.

I will try to be a better blogger, at least until we go on holiday. The stretch of glorious late autumn weather continues, with cold nights and lovely days - but winter is breathing down our necks, rather like the Russian Eurovision host.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is it May yet?

Oh dear.

Over a week since I blogged, and such a lot has happened.

First (and most importantly) a visit from the lovely Rosered! She escorted her mother to Tasmania, but slipped the leash for a couple of days and came to visit. So lovely to finally have a face to put with the shoes!

We knitted and drank coffee and champagne and ate some nice things - and she brought me a lovely darning mushroom! It was a lovely visit. I dragged her along to circus school, and pointed her towards the LYS and the nice shoe shop - and strangely, she came back with yarn and shoes, having found a hitherto unmined source of Grinasco Tango. And a pair of orange shoes. How unlike her!

This of course, meant I also had to do a quick dash to the LYS too, and grab some of the Tango, and somehow 5 balls of Superior (70 cashmere, 30 silk laceweight) slipped into the bag with the Tango. It probably wanted company.

It was a wonderful visit, and so lovely to meet her. I hope she comes back to visit again soon!

Friday was Agfest day. In keeping with tradition (well we did it last year and twice in a row must make it a tradition) a girlfriend and I consigned our respective children to the tender care of their fathers and did a dash to the delights of Agfest.

An utterly wonderful day, so sunny and hot we were out and about in t-shirts (the last gasp of the Indian Summer). There was a lot more fleecy and fibre-y stuff than last year - mainly alpaca, but a wool shop from Moonah (who also sell Ashford gear and knitpicks needles) had a stall. Overall I was very good and only bought 1 ball of alpaca - hand dyed, 2 little bags of tops and one ball of silk garden sock. Some plants, bulbs, soap and lovely hand cream etc came home with me though.

Which brings me to stash honesty. These purchases, having been made in May, do not count in April's total (heaves sigh of relief).

In: 800 grams

Knitted: (wait for it!) 100 gr - Black Rose socks
700gr - raglan cardi
100 gr - fish hat
100gr - Lighthouse gansey socks

Total - 1kg knitted - so I finally managed to knit more than came in! At last!

On a much sadder note, thank you so much for all your lovely thoughts on my poor little Hobson. And thank you for sharing your cat stories, too. It is awful to lose a fur friend, and I miss him dreadfully. Thank you.

And a big Happy Mother's Day, and to those who aren't yet, but will be - Happy Day to us all!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vale, Hobson.

This is just a very short post.

For the first time in more years than I care to remember, I have no animals.

Last night, my cat, Hobson, didn't come home. As the weather cools down, Hobson is always keen to be inside.

I acquired Hobson as a semi-feral teenage cat from our local RSPCA. Our cat, George, had been hit by a car, and our other cat and dog missed him. Hobson came into our lives. He loved the other cat, adored the elderly Labrador and loved me.

For many years, he'd have nothing to do with the Accountant, and generally gave the kids a wide berth. One of my friends, when seeing Hobson streak past her said, ``That's not a cat. It's a wabbit!''

Hobson seemed to be scared of most people, but was a mighty hunter of rabbits, rats and mice - and I'm ashamed to say, occasionally, birds.

He kept his white bits very white, and I loved him and he was hit by a car last night. I found him when I returned from the gym this morning out the front of our house.

We have buried him, and in keeping with our traditions, will plant a fruit tree over his grave (actually 2 - because I think he will look after the kiwi fruit vines for us, and you need a male and a female).

Goodbye Hobson. You have been my cat for over nine years. You were always as light as a feather. We joked that you had bird bones. But this morning you felt very very heavy.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just for Amy - and the end of poetry month

I wanted to include so many poems in this blog: Omar Kayyam

Awake! For morning in the bowl of night,
Has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight
And Lo! The hunter of the East has caught
The sultan's turret in a noose of light

and Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rage at close of day
Rage, Rage against the dying of the light

and D H Lawrence:
Not every man has gentians in his house
In soft September at slow sad Michaelmas

Bavarian Gentians, big and dark
Only dark
Darkening the daytime torchlike
With the smoking blueness of Pluto's gloom

All poems I love (along with a million others) and all typed from memory. I have so many fully, half and partly remembered poems sloshing around. I love Walt Whitman and Robert Frost, Yeats and Dylan Thomas, Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley, Marvell, Shakespeare, Donne, the war poets, Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, RL Stevenson, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and .... and

Love them. Love them all.

But in the spirit of feminism, and because some readers may not be familiar with A D Hope's extraordinarily sensuous poetry, I thought I'd pop this one in.

Advice to young ladies

AUC 334: about this date
For a sexual misdemeanour, which she denied,
The vestal virgin Postumia was tried.
Livy records it among affairs of state.

They let her off: It seems she was perfectly pure;
The charge arose because some thought her talk
Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

The Pontifex Maximus, summing up the case,
Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
To wear less modish and more pious frocks
She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

What then? With her, the annalist is less
Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare!
I see Postumia in her dowdy dress,

Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down,
A vestal virgin who scandalised that town
Had fair trial, then they buried her alive.

Alive, bricked up in sufficating dark,
A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
Preserved the body they did not wish to die
Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
Spirited girls who would not know their place;
Talented girls who found that the disgrace
Of being a woman made genius a crime;

How many others who would not kiss the rod
Domestic bullying broke, or public shame?
Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
Husbands, St Paul declared, rank next to God.

Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
Tacitus, writing after both had died,
Showed that whole fabric rotten, through and through.

Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
From great defects of policy - perhaps
The cause is sometimes simpler than they think.

It may not seem so grave an act to break
Postumia's spirit as Galileo's, to gag
Hypatia as crush Socrates, or drag
Joan as Giordano Bruno to the stake.

Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
For having shackled the enquiring mind,
Than those who, in their folly, not less blind,
Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

So there you are, Amy.

One of my favourite poems, sneaking in before the end of the month. Thank you for making me re-visit so many of the words that have given me so much pleasure - and introducing me to new words and more pleasure!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Winter sneaks in on cat feet...


I have to admit that winter has arrived (either that or it's suddenly late autumn and winter is around the corner). We have had 2 frosts in a row, and it poured with rain all weekend. Drought breaking rain - we had 76mm of rain in 3 days. Farmers were dancing.

I have turned over the clothes, the children are in their winter uniforms for school and I have rediscovered my spencers and skivvies. I may have to do some knitting.

This is my first proper week of unemployment, and yesterday I went to the Sheffield spinners and weavers with my wheel and started to learn to spin. They were lovely and welcoming ladies, but strangely, most of them didn't knit (or crochet). I didn't actually ask them what they did with their handspun, but I will next time. I now have 3/4 of a bobbin of rather overspun alpaca and merino (90/10). Apparently the overspinning was only partly me. The tension on the wheel wouldn't stay set, so running repairs were carried out by a little old lady with fishing wire and a red Post Office rubber band. I also found I am a much better spinner if I don't look at what I am doing.

I spent the wet weekend teaching the Princess to sew, and we made this:

Here is the proud creator.

So, that is the wet Saturday. On Sunday, Princess made a chocolate cake, mainly by herself (under supervision), so she is inordinately pleased with herself (and I am very proud of her).

I have been cooking more exciting wintry type food too. Last night I attempted to recreate a lovely dish I had at Brown Brothers Epicure restaurant, chorizo, potato and tomato. I used the roasted tomato sauce (will it see out the winter, or should I try and make just one more batch?).

I fried off the sliced chorizo, and drained it. Cooked some dutch cream potatoes then fried them in a little olive oil with sweet paprika, smoked paprika and hot paprika. Returned the sliced chorizo to the pan, added the roasted tomato sauce, tasted it, added a little more seasoning - nom nom! Not a bad recreation - maybe a little more hot paprika next time!

It's nice to have a bit more time for cooking and meal planning.

I have almost finished the body of the gathered pullover, and hope to start the sleeves in a day or two. Still need to finish Cherie (just not feeling the lurve), and the plain toe-up socks. then I can get on to some more things. Winter is coming - we need to keep warm!