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!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Indian Summer

The lovely Kate at Kiss My Frog gave me this award a little while ago (and it's not that I forgot, I just kept getting distrac....look - a bunny!) Sorry - and I was very happy to get such a nice award. Now I have to pass it on. Kate has already mentioned some of the people I would have named, so in order to spread the love a bit I thought I'd try and link you up with some new names.

Miss Cindy2paw and her gorgeous labby friends is an obvious one - crafty, friendly and always something wonderful in her blog
QuiltingMick - Crochet liberationist, crafter and enabler - always one to watch
Zephyrama - not posting as much these days, but always interesting when she does
Yarning to Write - with Amy you always get something unexpected - bits of a new book, children, cuteness and cussing - all in one great package
A Little Bit Crafty - can you believe someone can knit THAT small!
MadmadHousewife - the glories of yarn, wine and children (not necessarily in that order)
Last but definitely not least, Julie the Samurai Knitter - I never come away from reading her blog without having learned something surprising!

I even have an FO to blog

Here is the Raglan Jacket
Adapted from the topdown raglan cardigan recipe (but turned into a swing jacket)
7 skeins of Manos del Uruguay wool I scored in a Ravelry de-stash
The 5 buttons were 5 cents each in one of those button bargain tins in haberdashery shops where you trawl through to try and find some that match

Love it - lovely and warm and gorgeous selection og colours.

Obviously, monogamous knitting on Wips, instead of Knitlottotm means you actually get things finished.
Next stop - Cherie Amour and the last sleeve and a half

In other news, by the end of tomorrow I will be unemployed and I'm quite looking forward to it. I'm excited and already thinking of all the things I will be able to do.

This weekend quinces will be becoming both jelly and paste (a great recipe which boils the quinces and then turns the liquid into jelly and the pulp into paste - and the paste takes ages and needs welders gloves because it spits sugar and quince which sticks to your skin and burns the way toffee does.) Paste takes around 3 hours.

I will also pick walnuts - we usually end up with between 35 and 50kgs of walnuts - we have 21 mature trees - and pick over the apples and think about making another batch of roasted tomato sauce. I'm not sure if I have squirrel (hoard hoard hoard for winter) or bear (eat store eat) tendencies at this time of the year. Probably squirrel - I'm too much of an insomniac to be a bear. I use the harvest to feed us and try and capture autumn and summer in the depths of winter.

So far, we are having an indian summer. It is balmy and gently breezy and the breeze is warm. I know that there is only 1 month till winter officially begins. I must think about knitting......

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Golden Apples of the Sun

In honour of Amy and her wonderful blogging of a poem a day, I thought I would share one of my favourites, by W B Yeats.

I love Yeats' work and visited his grave when we were in Ireland - forcing the Accountant to drive miles out of our way so I could go there.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Of course, the `golden apples' of mythology were thought to be quinces, which came from possibly Persia, and perhaps even further afield. The picture above is of our quinces, just now ready for picking. In fact, just after I took this, I picked them and baked them with port, white wine, a cinnamon stick and some honey (and a little water) and we ate them with clotted cream. Yum!

I decided to give the Knitlotto tm a miss for a few days after I finished the Lighthouse Gansey socks (and told Anne Hanson of Knitspot how much I liked them - she says she may be coming up with some more gansey type sock patterns) and monogamously knitted on these.

These took 6 days - can you believe it! They are BlackRose socks from, and inspired by how gorgeous Bells' were, I cast on some Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR in Thraven. The bottom pic shows the colour better, I think. These were such fun to knit and grew so fast because I would be waiting for something or standing still for a few minutes and think`Oh, I could do a quick pattern repeat'' and I would. It was also Easter and not much was going on, so I could actually knit a bit during the day!

They were a lovely knit, perfectly matched to the yarn and I may make some more because I loved them so much!

In other news, I have organised my flights and accommodation to the Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show, so I now, with Zephyrama, the Knightly Knitter and Donyale, form part of the Hustler Street Posse (Hustler St is the address of our house in Bendi). So exciting!

This morning there was a mammoth storm, with wind gusts of up to 114kmh (that's 70mph in the old money) and much lightning and thunder. And rain. Lot and lots of rain. This is the first decent rain for a long time and the first thunderstorm. There are likely to be one or two more before winter.

We have had Easter and I did eat some chocloate, but was reasonably restrained. We took the kids to the nearby National Park, Narawntapu, and visited the bird hide which is usually on a lagoon, but there is no lagoon. Hopefully, some reasonable winter rain will bring back the lagoon and swamps. Currently, kangaroos are grazing where the lagoon usually is.

We were lucky enough to be there for a snake demonstration and talk. Tasmania has only three types of snake, all venomous and occasionally difficult to tell from each other. In fact, if you are close enough to undertake accurate identification of species (from a single scale between the eyes) you are almost cetainly too close.

The Tiger snake is the 4th most venomous snake in the world and the Copperhead the 10th, but the White lipped snake is small (and just as venomous). Tasmanian snakes should be treated with great respect. They are also protected, but killed nontheless.

It is only 10 days now until I finish work. I have lots of plans, and am quite looking forward to my approaching unemployment. I have decided to try and have spinning and sewing days once a week, and to do some small moves towards further decluttering, and making the house look less like a bomb site and more like a place where people can actually live, and find their possessions!

Off to play snap with Destructoboy, and attempt to wrangle him into some clothes....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hoppy Easter!

Another FO! There has been knitting happening - instead of the lucky dip system, I actually became monogamous, and these gorgeous socks were finished.

Pattern: Lighthouse Gansey Socks by Anne Hanson (on
Yarn: Yoyo String and Fluff in Crankyberry
Sticks - 2.75mm dpns
Time - from March 3 until April 6 - in a non-monogamous fashion.

Lots of fun and an easy and satisfying knit. I may make these for the Accountant's somewhat larger feet!

In other news, as soon as daylight saving ended it got cold - I understand there was snow in the mountains, and it was necessary to wear a cardigan. Winter is not far away, and for knitters and spinners and fibre fiends in general that can mean only one thing - Bendigo wool and sheep show.

And this year, I will be going.

I have bitten the bullet and booked accommodation and one or two blogpals may be there as well.

I have put the Accountant on notice that he will be the responsible adult in the house on July 17, 18 and most of 19.

I cannot describe how much I am looking forward to this. Wool, fibre, blogpals, Ravellers and knitting - all in one place. Squeeeeeeee!

Other stuff.

I have been trying very hard to be good. And apart from a small slip off the wagon involving the very tail end of a Wollmeise update, I have been pretty good.

I have decluttered another 3 bags for Lifeline and got rid of some more - stuff - like boxes and bags and so on that have been sitting around forever. I have been doing lots of work, because my inner quality controller and work ethic will let me do no less than my best, job or no job after April 23.

I am still knitting on the ongoing projects, but when I finished the gansey socks, I cast on Blackrose (another pattern in BMFA Raven clan, Thraven) I did the ribbing and first pattern repeat last night and it looks gorgeous. Can't wait to do some more on it.

Easter is coming, and I am fairly sure the Easter Bunny will be visiting us. I hope he visits you all too! Happy Easter! (and for pun-lovers - Hoppy Easter!)