Friday, 31 October 2008
Friday is my day for hanging out with Pirate Jim. As regular readers would know, sometimes it's desperately trying and exhausting, but many days, it's good fun and exhausting. Today was Good Fun. We made lanterns and monsters from empty toilet rolls, went scuba diving in the lounge room. When the Princess and I got tired we could sit on the couch-beach with PJ told about all the under-sea things he could see. We did some other secret-squirrel crafting for an imminent birthday that I will show you later, we had a stress-free trip to the shops (shame about all the boofheads and morons who were also at the shops), we watched Playschool, which has thankfully overtaken the Wiggles as PJ's favourite viewing and we read stories.
It was a fun Friday.
I love Friday because I'm going to cast on something new tonight after finishing the birthday jumper. I've no idea what, but it will be something that's not a pink-striped jumper!
And I love Friday because today is the end of Blogtoberfest - and I made it! I didn't think I would there for a while, but here we are, 31st of October and 31 posts!
I haven't got to visit nearly as many blogs as I would have liked - I'm barely keeping up with my regular reads - but I have discovered some fabulous new blogs that I will be dropping in on regularly (in an ideal world!).
I also feel like I've got some of my blogging mojo back, after a dire few months where I felt all dried up and without inspiration. I almost certainly wont be blogging every day from here, but I've got some momentum and feel like I can find the blogginess in the everyday once again.
I must extend a huge thankyou to Bigcat for dreaming up and hosting Blogtoberfest, she's done a brilliant job. Thanks too, to others who have held my hand for part or all of the way.
Now, if it's OK with you, I may just not blog for a couple of days, and knit instead!
Thursday, 30 October 2008
It's bad form to blog a gift FO before it's gifted, but I'm low on blog-fodder. So K (M's mum), if you're reading, look away now!! It's in the mail tomorrow!
I'm feeling particularly brain-dead this evening, so will just give you the facts rather than any of my usual witty prose.
Pattern: I used the Tiny Top Down pattern #608 by Deb Gemmell from Cabin Fever. My version is based on the Club Pullover (#66) from the Bouton d'Or #11 pattern book.
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic in soft plum, musk, rosebud and magnolia
Sticks: Knitpicks Options 4mm for the body and standard 4mm dpns for the sleeves
Mods: Plenty. That's the joy of top-down construction. I had Little Miss M's measurements, and I just went from there. I muffed the stripe pattern early on - the dark in-between stripes are only supposed to be 2 rows wide, but I made the first lot 3 rows, so I just kept that up. I also added the rib polo-neck, by picking up the neck stitches and knitting the 2x2 rib up until it was long enough.
This was my first in-the-round top-down, and I'll do it again anytime. The pattern was straightforward and so easy to follow and modify. I know I moaned about it a while back when it seemed never-ending, but that's just because I want to knit so many other things! Really, it was fast and easy, and even all those bleedin' ends only took a couple of hours to sew in.
I'm a bit worried the sleeves will be a bit on the short side, but 4 year olds are into everything so I'm hoping slightly shorter sleeves wont get as wet/dirty/sandy/soapy/gooey.
Otherwise I'm really happy with it.
Finally, I can't go without wishing my gorgeous god-daughter M a very happy 4th birthday, with lots of fun. I wish I could be there to share in the fabulous cake I know K will have baked! Happy Birthday, M, from the Australian heiden-tante!
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
And I hit just such times this afternoon at swimming lessons.
Imagine the scene: PJ is happily in the pool and find a dry seat amongst all the other parents and take out my knitting (yay! 30 whole minutes knitting time!!).
I've got a pair of Fetchings on the go as pool knitting. Last week I had to cast on 4 times before I got a green-lighter (yarn issues), and that took most of the half hour. This week, I have one more plain row and then the cable row.
K4, P1 for one round.
I reach into my knitting bag........uh-oh.
No notions pouch.
No cable needle.
And 27 minutes of knitting time left!!
A mad scrabble around my handbag didn't even yield a pen. I resisted the urge to upend the bag on the pool deck, and to mug the woman next to me for the pencil she was flagrantly using to fill out a form, for heaven's sake. The only thing I could find was a (thankfully, large) safety pin.
Phew. Crisis averted.
What's the strangest thing you've ever used in a Desperate Crafting Situation?
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
The plan is (and there's always a plan!) that it will make shopping easier, make deciding what to cook every evening easier, mean I have all the necessary ingredients to hand, and reduce waste. I'm a shocker for buying things on a whim then letting them rot or go off in the fridge because I don't have a plan for them.
I've even got a dedicated notebook where I make the list, and then make a note of how the meal went afterwards. Beloved is always saying "That was great - we should have it again" and then I forget about it and we never do! So I hope this is a way of keeping track.
Each Sunday, I sit down with a couple of magazines or recipe books, and a cup of tea, and browse through them to choose a few recipes to try for the week. Then I add a few sure-fire favourites, and make sure there is a variation of "chicken and rice" included. This is PJ's favourite, so it's essential for household harmony.
Then I check the ingredient lists and add anything I need to the shopping list for Monday morning.
This week's list includes:
- Lemon baked chicken with couscous
- Vegetarian chili with brown rice
- Chicken stir-fry with rice
- BBQ - sausages, flat mushrooms and corn on the cob with salad
I'll report back on the success or otherwise of the new system!
I've been a bit slack with the Blogtoberfest Inspiration Word. The word for Wednesday, from page 1511, is opinion.
Monday, 27 October 2008
Sunday, 26 October 2008
No, this is my current nemesis, the millstone around my neck, my albatross:
The deadline-knit birthday jumper for my goddaughter-niece, Little Miss M. I am so ready for it to be over, because there are about a hundred other things I want to cast on right now, and I can't until I Get. This. Done. It feels like it just keeps going and going and going....
The body is done. The sleeves are done. Even though I looked at PJ siting in the back of the car while we were driving yesterday, to see he had TWO dpns in his hands. Two dpns of course means that one has come from holding live stitches, which it clearly wasn't when he was using it as a drumstick. But the stitches were saved. (I am rubbish at picking up dropped stitches, hence the angst. Luckily I was about to be surrounded by several other knitters, so it was only momentary). Note to self: don't leave knitting within his reach in the car.
I'm currently picking up the neck. So a few dozen rows of 1x1 rib.
Then I just have to sew in the ends of all those stripes. Just thinking about it makes me want to weep for all the other things I could be knitting.
And the fascinating results of yesterday's poll have option A, paper over, out in front by a country mile.
Which is my preferred - nay, essential - option. I'm with quiltingmick, I'll change the rolls at work if they don't go over, or other people's houses.
No compromise, no surrender!
And I'm behind on Blotoberfest Inspiration Words. How about nemesis? What's yours?
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Friday, 24 October 2008
Today, it was finding this little guy before the home-grown lettuce leaves made it on to our dinner plates.
And watching PJ watching him-her (because snails are hermaphrodites) cruise over his hand and a clear plastic lid before releasing her-him back to the wild.
OK, so that's two good things. Bonus.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
It was fun to knit, it's made from custom-dyed yarn from a local yarnie, so it's one-of-a-kind, I love to wear it and it looks so glam, and I always get compliments on it.
It dead-heats in the favourite stakes with....
2. PJ's Little Star Sweater
It seems I never blogged it as an FO, but it's from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits for Tots. It was my first crack at intarsia, and my first time knitting with cotton, and it came out a treat. And PJ just looks so darn cute in it! Of course it no longer fits - this was last winter. Maybe if I stopped feeding him, he might stop growing....
I always wanted to do him another one, in red, white and blue, but when he announced at the start of this winter that he wasn't going to wear jumpers, I thought I wouldn't waste my time. Maybe next year.
So those are my two fave FOs.
The Blogtoberfest Inspiration Word for Friday is participation. Thanks Rosered!
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
1. Today was week 2 of Swimming Class. PJ was once again brilliant - engaged and responsive, and happy to be there. I remembered to take knitting, so got and extra 45 minutes of knitting time today. Given that I usually get about 1 to 1.5 hours a day right now, this is Worth Noting.
2. The Princess has started waking up at 5am. Before that sometimes. Anything with a 4 as the first number does not count as morning in my book. That's still Middle of the Night. And not going back to sleep after a feed. So we are taking long morning walks so the rest of the house can sleep. Although I know these walks are good for me, and it's really lovely to watch the sunrise, and the Princess certainly enjoys them....well, I do rather wish she'd go back to sleeping until 6 am. But given that she has been sleeping through the night, from 730 pm til 5 am, for the last 6 weeks, I really can't complain. Not many babies start sleeping through at 8 weeks old.
3. I had to take the Princess for some blood tests yesterday. I have a thyroid condition, and it needs to followed up with her in case she develops the same thing. PJ had to have bloods done at 3 and 6 months too. It is one of the most awful things I have ever done, holding my baby down while a stranger sticks a needle in her arm. But the techs were great and got a vein first go, and she stopped screaming a short while later. I was still shaky a couple of hours later though.
4. We had a lovely weekend, with two couples, who are very old friends, from Kangaroo Island visiting. Lots of eating, a fabulous day at the National Botanic Gardens with a picnic lunch, eating on the deck in the sunshine, going for walks. One of the women, S, is a keen quilter and sometime knitter, so we had lots to talk about, much to everyone else's amusement. I love such visits and miss the friends very much - we would see each other several times a week when we all lived in Darwin. I think a holiday to Kangaroo Island is on the cards for next year.
5. I have been trying to be more organised by making a list of meals for the coming week and writing my shopping list to make sure I have everything on hand to make said meals. Not rocket science, and I've done it before, but fell out of the habit. So far it's working well. On the menu for this week are such culinary delights as chicken schnitzels and steamed vegies, lamb filo scrolls, tuna and corn fritters with fresh salsa, butter chicken with rice and farfelle with bacon and peas. I'm even keeping the lists in a bound notebook so I can look over meals from previous weeks and see what was good (and tantrum-free). See - organised!
6. My knitting continues apace (albeit a snail's pace) on the deadline gift knit that should have been finished last week. One sleeve and the neck to do, and the sewing in of about a trillion ends (it's stripey and I'm stupid for choosing that pattern!). I will post pics and details once it has been gifted. And then there's the Back-to-School vest to finish off (I'm up to splitting the front and back) and some lace to get started on! Not to mention entries for the Canberra Show in February next year. I'm determined to enter several items, and at least one of crochet. Oh yes, I've started crocheting again...but I'll save that for another post I think.
I'm afraid that's as thrilling as it gets around here right now. I'm retiring to the couch to get a decent whack of sleeve #2 of the deadline gift knit done.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
D'you think this could be why?
I think "shambles" is generously understating the reality of my desk. I long to be organised and inspired, to have a desk like other people. I'm organised on the inside, but sadly it never seems to manifest on the outside.
PJ likes to come and play while I'm on the computer, and he's as bad at cleaning up after himself as I am. The last few days my desk has been his construction site, and you can see his roller, bulldozer, trucks, racing car and workmen. Oh, and a forklift.
There's also my diaries - yes, two, one for the desk and one for the handbag - Bendy shadecards (I may have bought some yarn recently - wanna make something of it?), the cutest owly quilt pattern I bought the other day, 4 different USB cables and three separate piles of filing. No one can call me unorganised when I've got three piles for my filing.
There's also a notebook where I've started jotting down important stuff, like phone calls with government agencies, lists of things to do and what patterns I intend to make with yarn purchases. I was writing those on scrap paper, but for some reason I kept misplacing them.
Turn 90 degrees to the left and this is what's beside my desk.
Beloved allocated me a whole bookcase for what he very nicely calls "my things", but what is really all my crap, so I don't leave it in piles throughout the rest of the house. I'm still getting used to that system.
There are numerous bags of yarn - the most recent purchases - and fabric, my pattern folders, and a box of...wait...oh, look, more yarn! No, this is not the stash, this is just the customs lounge where new arrivals await processing.
Today I finally got jack of the whole debacle and spent 2 hours tidying my desk. A generous contribution to the recycling bin was made, and I even did some filing. I'm down to one pile, yay me!
Tomorrow I will tackle the bookcase.
And then Thursday - the WORLD! Mwhahahha....
********************************************The Blogtoberfest Inspiration Word for Wednesday is habit. I'm starting to wonder if PJ can actually read....
Monday, 20 October 2008
And, I really must admit, I'm a teeny tiny bit scared of it. Not so much the charts and the complexity, but the fineness of laceweight yarn and the un-tink-ability of it. All those yarn overs and knit-together stitches - once it's knit, it's knit. So it's a bit scary. I'd rather not start than muff it up.
My first lace experience was very positive and completely enjoyable, but I just haven't gotten around to more. And it was in 8ply, so avoiding the fineness issue.
However, we must grow as knitters and crocheters, and I will evade the issue no longer. I have decided to join Bells in the Long Lacy Summer.
I've got a few different yarn options in the stash (oh, shut UP already!); a couple of 2plys, lots of 4plys. For the most part, I haven't gotten as far as matching patterns with yarns yet, but do have a bit of a wish list.
This malabrigo laceweight is slated for a Lace Ribbon Scarf.
I would love to tackle a Branching Out, Leisel has caught my eye and I'm quite partial to the Monteverde Scarf. The Woodland Shawl is on my list, as is the Haruha scarf, the Waltz and Travelling Vines.
Hmmm, I can see a pattern here - these are all scarves or stoles! Maybe its the full-blown triangular shawl I'm afraid of.....
So I hereby challenge myself to knit a triangular shawl this summer. Maybe a Forest Canopy? It's the only one in my Ravelry queue!
Are there any other suggestions for triangular shawls that you've loved knitting?
Sunday, 19 October 2008
And so my favourite film is really not terribly exciting. I'm clearly a child of my generation.
But Harrison Ford circa 1977.....
Yup, Star Wars. I could watch it over and over. I'm not a sci-fan, far, far from it (sorry, little Star Wars pun there). But it's got everything: an unassuming hero with an unknown past, an epic plot, a mission to save a world, a mentor, mercenary made good, scary bad guys, the little people up against a seemingly all-powerful force, and big hair. And Han Solo. I've seen it dozens and dozens of times.
My only advice is this. If you take part in a Star Wars drinking game, try to avoid having to drink on R2D2's lines. You'll probably pass out before you get to see Han.
The Blogtoberfest Inspiration Word for Tuesday is evade. Thanks to PJ for picking this page.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
I've been trying to get more sewing done in the last few months; the cloth nappies for the Princess were the start, but I've got heaps of things on my "must-try" list.
Reverse applique was one thing on my list. I'm not a huge regular applique fan, but do like the funky look of reverse applique.
So when I found this fabulous tutorial, I had to give it a whirl.
This is just a cheapy all-in-one suit (or onesie, if you prefer) from the local department store, a scrap of pretty fabric and a very easy design.
Sweet, don't you think? And very, very easy (Yes, Amy, you could certainly do it!!). Please excuse the crap-O-rama photo, it's late.
I see lots more of these in my future. Like in about 15 years when I have more time.....
And I forgot yesterday, but the Blogtoberfest Inspiration Word for Sunday is chain. Thanks Sean via Bells!
Friday, 17 October 2008
We have guests all weekend; I'm going to try really hard to blog every day, but....
Anyway, I saw this this morning somewhere a little unexpected (can't recall where. I'm lucky to remember to put my undies underneath my jeans these days, so give me a break). I don't get across all the big knitting blogs - heck, I'm not across any blogs right now - so I may be the last person on the planet to have seen this offering from the Mason-Dixon knitting girls.
But I laughed.
So even if you have seen it, do yourself a favour and go have another look.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Tante Mia from Weidenbruek (we have 4 Tante Mias in our life, so we have to differentiate geographically!) sent the Princess some money and asked us to buy her something special.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Today was the first day of Pirate Jim's swimming lessons. He's been having them since he was 5 months old, but we've been having a hiatus since about April this year.
The pool where we used to go, very nearby, had a change of management at the start of the year, and all their good, experienced swimming teachers left. It took 5 weeks (that's half the term) before they had a permanent instructor for his class, and although I'm sure she was fully qualified, and probably really good with older kids, she wasn't very experienced, and didn't know how to handle a grumpy 2 year old.
She and PJ never clicked, and he hated going to lessons. I was determined to see the term through, but he howled every time the lesson started, refused to do as he was asked and often I had to physically force him to sit on the side of the pool for the 30 minute duration of the class.
The instructor just didn't know how to deal with his behaviour. The other kids in the class were a little older, and advanced more quickly, than PJ, and as the term wore on, she didn't seem to be able to tailor any of the drills to PJ's lower standard.
He hated it, I hated it, and I don't think the instructor much liked it either. It was terribly demoralising when he would leap up as soon as the class was over and dash for the toddler pool, where he would happily splash about for as long as I'd let him. He just hated the classes.
So we took a break over the winter terms.
I did some research and talked to other parents, and decided to enrol PJ this term at a pool about 15 minutes drive away.
This afternoon was his his first class.
I was pretty apprehensive, I have to admit. I went along fully prepared to bribe him into the water with anything (up to and including a pony), and even took my own bathers in case it took me getting into the water as well to make him stick it out.
I had been talking it up all week, and PJ was actually quite keen. We talked about all the other kids having lessons as we walked into the pool, and he was thrilled to see there was shallow toddler pool there. We got changed and he asked if he could go into the small pool.
"Yes", I said, "but only if you come out straight away when your class begins." He agreed, and when the whistle blew at 5:00 to signal the class change-over, I asked to come out. He did. First hurdle!
There were two other little girls in the class, and a very young-looking instructor. I've nothing against young at all, but after last time, I was worried that it would equate to "unable to handle toddlers".
But I needn't have worried. Another two instructors appeared, so there was one for each child. Within a few minutes PJ's instructor had him happily being towed around, although he was keeping a weather-eye on me sitting on the sidelines. But in less than 10 minutes, he had PJ totally focused on the exercises, and when they took the kids out of my line-of-sight, PJ didn't even notice.
After 20 minutes, I could see PJ leaping, unaided, from the side of the pool.
I was so proud of PJ today. He was clearly a little nervous about the new big people he had to deal with, but he was calm and (eventually) focused. And he obviously enjoyed it! After all, that's the main goal.
H came tearing up to me when the 30 minutes were up, and wanted to go back into the toddler pool. I explained that no, we had to go home to Papa and the Princess, and then he couldn't wait to get dressed and home to tell them all about it.
And now I think he's actually gone to sleep after only 10 minutes.
Good Parenting Day, I tell you.
Remind me of this when next I'm on the look-out for gypsies, will you?
edited to add: The Word for Friday is synchronise
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Quite simply, it's a chronicle of my day, on the 14th of the month. So here's my day....
3:10 am Pirate Jim crawls into bed with us and immediately falls deeply asleep
3:11 am - 5:45 am I get woken every 15 or 20 minutes by an elbow or hand to the head, or a foot to the kidneys. PJ is a restless, space-monopolising sleeper. I should have just gone into his bed.
5:45 am Princess Grace awakens for her morning feed. I listen to a podcast of In the National Interest, an in-depth public affairs program. No idea what it was about, I dozed through most of it.
6:30 am Dress the Princess and head out to the kitchen. Kettle on, first cup of tea and a chat with the Princess while I try to wake up properly.
6:45 am I turn on the computer and my suspicion that it is wirelessly linked to PJ's brain is heightened when the Windows boot-up tone and "Morning Mama" are heard simultaneously. I put porridge in the microwave for him, pour juice, dress the porridge with fruit, cinnamon and brown sugar, give him the porridge, fish out the pineapple, add banana, give him back the porridge. Tag with Beloved and I head to the shower.
7:00 - 7:15 am Alone time as I shower and dress - until there's a banging on the door because PJ needs to use the toilet.
7:15 - 8:15 am UN-level negotiations over day's attire for PJ, brushing of teeth, washing of face, combing of hair, putting of shoes and socks. I get to have a bowl of cereal in there too. PJ watches 15 minutes of ABC kids (including Sean the Sheep, which I watch too!) before we leave for childcare.
8:45 am Return from childcare drop-off. The Princess is dozing in her rocker, so I scan the newspaper online and check my email, getting time for one or two few-lines replies before she wakes up for morning tea.
9:00 am Morning tea feed for the Princess. And West Wing time for me; second last ep of the second series. I love this show!
9:45 am Change the Princess and have a play, tidying the lounge room and kitchen, make phone calls to try and see if I can find a swimsuit for PJ, who starts swimming lessons tomorrow afternoon.
10:15 am The Princess is getting cranky so I put her down for a nap and open my email.
10:40 am The Princess is finally asleep so I can finally answer an email or two and do some online searching for a birthday gift. I've been trying to do some sewing these last few weeks, so I get out the patterns and fabric and lay out and cut out a little dress for the Princess. I sit down at the machine but realise I don't have the right colour thread for this fabric. Lay out another fabric instead. She needs a few of these dresses this summer.
11:30 The Princess wakes up, so I grab her and then tidy up the sewing stuff. She has another feed and I watch the final ep of West Wing for series 2. It all gets a bit over done in the last minutes, but is moving and compelling nonetheless. I'm sad because I don't have series 3 yet, and Christmas is a very, very long time away.
12:30 We pack ourselves up and head to the Plaza to check out a large sporting goods store for that elusive swimsuit, pay a bit off my laybys and see if I can find the thread I need. I didn't score on one and three, but did find a nice little short-sleeved cardi for a bargain. It's a lovely red, yay! Wes top at the post office on the way home to try and locate a missing parcel. No joy there either.
2:00 I put the Princess down for another nap and finish cutting out the second little dress. Time for a couple of quick emails and to do an order for some yarn I promised someone.
2:45 pm. The Princess wakes up, another feed, this time watching the first ep of season 3 of Veronica Mars. I loved seasons 1 and 2, but this first ep didn't do it for me. I'll give it a couple more eps, otherwise I may just have to buy myself an early Christmas gift.
3:30 pm Change the Princess, have a play, tidy the kitchen, start preparing dinner. Tonight its salmon and leek tart from the July issue of Super Food Ideas (not online yet, sorry!).
4:30 pm. Put her down for a nap. Check email and start blog post.
4:45 pm She's still awake
4: 55 pm Go and get Princess and go for a stroll in the garden to look at the flowers and pat the dog.
5:15 pm The boys arrive home, PJ clutching a small pink rosebud for me. He presents it to me and promptly clonks his head on the edge of the buffet in the hall. Ow. After the tears are dried, he helps me finish the dinner prep.
5:30 pm Sit down to feed the Princess. Read a book with PJ and discuss his day at the same time. Watch him empty the sand out of his shoes all over the rug.
6:10 pm Put the veggies on to steam, set the table, finish getting dinner ready. UN-level negotiations take place once we are at the table as PJ is unhappy that he doesn't have a "big piece" of the tart like Papa.
6:45 pm Last mouthful is successfully negotiated in, tantrums are averted (for a change), the table is cleared and the bath drawn. Beloved cleans up the kitchen while I undress the Princess and get her and PJ into the bath.
7:15 pm The Princess is dressed and back in the lounge with Papa and I get PJ out, dried and into his jammies. I swap kids with Beloved and give Grace her supper feed and put her down to sleep. That's the last I'll see of her until 6am. PJ on the other hand.....
7:45 pm After a couple of stories, I take PJ to brush his teeth and tuck him into bed. Beloved is making a cup of tea in the kitchen and I come in to the study to blog.....
8:45 pm PJ is still awake and calling out. I've finished this post and my cup of tea, Beloved is talking on the phone and I'm about to hit "publish", go and make another cup of tea and hit the couch with my knitting.
Today was a fairly quiet day by general standards: no lunch dates or other sppointments, no real errands to do, PJ was fairly balanced - trying but at least no real tanties - and the Princess was happy and playful. I'm pretty tired, but it's all good. No major failures of parenting today, always a bonus.
He's still awake. Do you happen to know any gypsies who are looking for a child to buy??
Monday, 13 October 2008
Now that my reading time is severely curtailed, and is usually about 20 minutes in bed before lights out (much to Beloved's disgruntlement), I usually only have one book on the go at once, although the queue is always long. Bed-time reading is essential to me though; I simply cant get into bed and turn out the light. I need to quieten my brain with some words on the page.
I also have a a pile of mags each month too, usually food ones, that I have in the living room to leaf through whenever there's a spare few minutes (preferably with a cup of tea and a nice biscuit or two!).
So here's the list, top to bottom:
Things I Learned from Knitting and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off, both by Stephanie Pear-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot. Bells was kind enough to lend me both these books, and I dip into them every few days for a page or two.
The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde. Also lent to me by a friend. I love Fforde's unique and quirky fiction; he comes up with completely left-field characters and plots, and draws in dozens of obscure literary references. This is the second book in the Nursery Crimes series, and I'm not quite so enamoured of this series as I am of his first, the Thursday Next series. This is mu current read.
Carpentaria, by Alexis Wright. It won the 2007 Miles Franklin literary award. Also lent to me by a friend. Haven't started it yet; my friend says it's hard going by worthwhile. Might save it for when I'm not so tired.
The Messenger and The English Assasin, both by Daniel Silva. My read of choice these days is crime fiction, and Silva is my latest find. I quite like reading a series from start to finish, watching how the lead character develops. In these books, Gabriel Allon is an Israeli spy, who is supposed to be retired and living in Venice as an art restorer. He of course keeps getting called back into service. So kind of thriller-intrigue. Good switching-off reads, but the Jewish history component is quite compelling. These two are next off the rank once The Fourth Bear is done.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I loved Bryson's early travel works, although once he hit the Big Time they became less appalling - more kind of "trash the locals" than quirkily observant. Another one lent by a friend, I dip into this now and then as I'm not so much of a non-fiction reader these days.
Finally, my mags for the month: Australian Good Taste, BBC Good Food, Super Food Ideas and Interweave Knits. Yes, I do love reading about food (there is often a cookbook beside my bed but I took the most recent back to the library on the weekend). I cook maybe a half-a-dozen recipes from each mag each month, and many of them go into rotation. I have an extensive library these days and they're constantly being dragged out to find past recipes. Although I do tend to go to Taste in the first instance since this is where most of the recipes reside online.
The Blogtoberfest Word for Wednesday is pilgrimage. Have fun with that one!
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Bells lamented it, Kylie is suffering, other Blogtoberfest goers are wondering what they got themselves in for and even Blogtoberfest SuperMama, BigCat, is feeling the squeeze. Rosered helped out with a list for Bells, that she very generously shared, and will get many people (including me!) out of a tight spot, I'm sure.
Well, I can't do anything about the lack of time (but oh, how I wish), but just to add to the inspiration mix, Bells, Kylie and I have concocted another little scheme to kick start the brain cells on those slow-blogging days. Bells mentioned it in her post yesterday.
If you check out all our posts from yesterday, you'll see they all feature the word or theme transform. That's because it's the word I chose from the page of my Macquarie Dictionary that Pirate Jim picked yesterday afternoon. We thought we might do this every second day, so that there is some inspiration sitting there if we need it over the course of the month.
If you're feeling stuck for inspiration, pop on over and at the bottom of each day's post, I'll give you the Word of the Day for the second next day (that means two days away). A word randomly selected from a page in my Macquarie Dictionary, third edition, once Kylie or Bells give me a page number (up to 2478).
You might choose to make this your post theme, or just to try and get it in the text somehow.
This is just a way of sparking something off in your brain, and providing extra fodder for Blogtoberfest!
Also, I am very honoured to have received a Blogtoberfest Spirit Award from BigCat. Thanks! I'll wear it with pride!
Saturday, 11 October 2008
My mum taught me to knit when I was about 4 or 5, and I knit in exactly the same style as her. Until recently, this was pretty absolute; I used standard Australian patterns from ACS, almost exclusively their yarns, and I knit garments the same way as my Mum (whom I should add is a brilliant knitter who test-knit for ACS in the 70s). That is, in pieces - back, front(s), sleeves, sew up seams and pick up stitches for neckbands, button bands etc.
I thought that's how one knit.
I never thought I'd say this, but I reckon Donald Rumsfeld may have been onto something when he postulated that not only were the "known unknowns", but there were also "unknown unknowns".
I had no idea that my knitting would be so transformed by my exploration of the knitting community via the web and blogging. There were (and still are) indeed unknown unknowns.
The knowledge that has transformed my knitting, probably more than any other thing I have learned recently, is that garments can be knit in one piece, from the top down, or bottom up. One piece. No seaming.
Although this isn't anything new to, oh probably a goodly 99% of the knitting world, it was news to me a few months back when I figured it out.
One piece. No seaming. Wow.
It has changed the way I look at garment construction. I now understand how things go together to make a garment and if I see a pattern knit in pieces, I immediately want to know if it is essential to construct it that way, and if not, how I could make it in one piece. Without seams.
Although my first top-down one-piece was a wrap (so it was straight, really), my current deadline WIP is a roll-neck jumper that I've done in this style, in the round. I can't show it to you right now, because it's a gift, but let me tell you I am totally chuffed with how it is working out. I reckon it might even fit the intended recipient!
Now that I've got the top-down seamless by the short-and-curlies (to borrow a very elegant phrase from my mother), I am really looking forward to the next "a-ha" moment that transforms the way I craft.
What was your ephiphany?
p.s. the spellchecker in Blogger reckons Rumsfeld should be "misfield". Maybe someone should have spell-checked his name back in, say, 2001, and taken the hint.
Friday, 10 October 2008
I wanted to thank everyone who shared their favourite lullabies and songs in the comments; I hope everyone who read them enjoyed them as much as I did. It seems to be one of those things that is so individual and personal and memory laden. I hope that I'm giving my kids some deeply connected memories with the songs we sing and the traditions we start while they're still young. Those are precious things.
There has been some dribs and drabs of stash enhancement going on over the last weeks and months; I'm not brave enough to document it a la Rosered, but almost all of it has a plan (some people seem to think this is important!), once the current deadline WIPs are done. I thought tonight I might lay some of those plans out - perhaps it will shame me into actually doing some of them. But then again, perhaps not.
Sorry, no pics (cant be arsed, frankly! And most of it isn't photographed - it doesn't count as stash that way!), and all the patterns links are from Rav. And no particular order, either.
1. There was some Bendy purchased a few weeks back - mostly for a gift jumper (in progress), but one has to make up the free postage threshold!
- Waving Grass in Rustic 12 ply in Spiced Plum for the Princess for next winter;
- Little sister's dress in heather cotton for this summer;
- Avita in maritime blue cotton - but I'll modify the straps because I don't like the ties.
There was Bell's little Berry adventure that yielded some Cascade 220:
- 2 skeins of a gorgeous red (9404) that will become a Toddler Tunic;
- 2 skeins of teal (9455) that may just want to be a February baby sweater for next year.
Bells also arranged a small Knitpicks shipment:
- Wool of the Andes in two shades of purple for a Green Zebra
- Mainline cotton in red for a baby swing jacket
- 200g of Watermelon will become an Oriental Lily;
- I'm as yet undecided what 200g of Blueberry will be though.
There have been plenty of Spotties purchases as they cleared out their winter stock:
- some Mode Vera Torte will become a Boogie Vest for me;
- a few balls of Lion Brand cotton that will make many things including a Confection Baby Shrug, a Daisy and perhaps some longies
- Im not owning up to the rest just yet.
- Garnstudio Paris cotton for a 100-2 Jacket with Rib
- Garnstudio Alpaca that is just so nice to smoosh it doesn't need a plan
- Balmoral Tweed (green) that is now partly a U-Neck Back-to-school Vest;
- Patons Smoothie for a Wicked;
- more Balmoral Tweed (grey) for another vest, or maybe a Tree Jacket.
I would like it noted I have passed on numerous enhancement opportunities in the recent past, despite the temptation. I am strong, I tell you.
And I haven't listed anything I want to do for the Summer of Lace.
I expect that should keep me off the streets for a while.One last thing - I wanted to mention a new-ish blogger on the block who is an old friend from my Blue Mountains days. Liz runs the Button Bower (if you like vintage buttons you must go there)and also crafts beautiful jewelry and objects from buttons and other vintage thingies. And she's a scientist by day! Drop by and say hi; she's having a giveaway for Blogtoberfest too!
Now, if I dont get back to the couch and my knitting, this list will remain just that.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
If the Pirate was asleep at his usual time of 7:30, instead of still bouncing in and out of bed like a jack-in-the-box for the last 90 minutes, then maybe she could have come up with something interesting.
If the Princess hadn't had an hour-long screaming session that started at the precise moment dinner was placed in the table, then maybe she would be in a position to string a few words together.
If she hadn't spent most of the day walking around the Plaza with me, waiting while I tried on clothes, trying to get the self-serve checkout at the LargeLetter store to work, patiently following me around the supermarket, and taking me to the yarn store (ok, ok, I didn't say it was all hard work!!), she might be in some sort of state to sit upright at the computer.
If she hadn't been woken three times in the night by the Princess, then four times by the Pirate before he finally climbed into bed with her and then took 95% of the available space while she clung to the remaining 5% and shared it with the cat, perhaps she might be able to relate an interesting anecdote about her day.
And I haven't mentioned the other tantrums, tidying, bathing, cooking and wrangling that has taken place today. Or the six, 45-minute breastfeeds that she's delivered since 6am.
So I'd appreciate it if you excuse her for tonight. I'm sure she'll be back at her best tomorrow night.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
When I put the Princess to bed of an evening, I usually sing her a lullaby as she lays in her cot, swaddled up like a sausage and big eyes gazing up at me.
Sadly, I can't write music and so can only tell you the words, not the tune:
Moon, moon, shining and silver,
Moon, moon, silver and white,
Moon, moon, whisper to children,
Sleep through the silvery night.
Shine, shine, shine, shine,
Sleep through the silvery night.
I've heard it a few times on Playschool, but haven't been able to find anything more on it.
It's become a special quiet time for the Princess and I. She seems to like my singing - possibly the only person in the world who does, as Beloved snorts when I try to sing and even Pirate Jim says "Stop singing Mama!" if I try to sing along with Playschool!
Before PJ knew enough about music to know my how bad my singing is, our special song at bedtimes was "Twinkle twinkle little star". First time around I didn't have so much confidence, or Playschool, and my repertoire was very limited. He'll sometimes still let me sing it, and sings along now too, which I love.
It got me to thinking though - what's your favourite lullaby? The one you sing (sang) with the special wee ones in your life, or the one that was sung to you.
I'd love to hear about it!
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
In my mind, though, cloth nappies = the large terry squares that I was nappied in back in the 70s. That had to be folded, that leaked, that needed pins and horrid plastic pilchers and to be soaked in a stinky bucket of bleach, that had to be somehow dried in winter. All that water, detergent, power, time...it was not for me. I had my arguments sorted and I was quite adamant.
But every time I ditched one of those things in the bin, I felt just a little uneasy. Although I liked to think I was trying to tread lightly, since cotton is so intensive to grow, all that water and detergent and power, yadda yadda, I thought that there had to be a better way.
Luckily there are many, many way cleverer people in the world than me, and they had it sorted ages ago.
I stand here before you, admitting I was wrong, and shouting from the rooftops that there is a better way. I am a true believer!
In the months before the Princess was born, I became aware of this "new" thing: Modern Cloth Nappies, or MCNs as those of us in the know like to call them (Yes, as usual I'm light years behind. Stop laughing down the back).
I did some research, talked to some friends who were there before me, got myself a mentor (not a compulsory step, but when you're like me and need hand-holding for something new, it helps) and I was away.
Pockets are my nappy of choice, and I love them. They are easy to use and dry so quickly. I wont bore you with the details (I suspect I'm nearly the last person on the planet who knows about these anyway), but suffice to say I am sold. Love them.
I wasn't initially sure about what they looked like or how they worked (thank goodness for my very patient mentor!), so I bought my initial stash (yes, we MCNers have another sort of stash - another selling point if you were still wavering!!) from a respected seller who carried lots of different brands and types.
But then my mentor suggested building up the stash by sewing my own. I was astounded - I could do that?
Yep - and I did. Lots of free and purchased patterns are available online; I found one that I liked, bought in the supplies and had a bash.
Behold, nappy stash!
Aren't they groovy? And it's enormously satisfying - not only am I reducing all that waste but I made these myself. The first one (front centre) is a bit gumby, but it still does the job.
Bring on summer so the Princess can get out in her funky new bum wear!
And whats even better - shhh, don't tell Beloved - is that now I have the perfect excuse to maintain yet another stash: the nappy fabric one. Sometimes I am so sneaky I amaze even myself!
Monday, 6 October 2008
I love kitchen stuff. LOVE it. I love to cook (except lately, when it's become about getting folk fed before the regular evening meltdown happens), love to entertain, love browsing cookbooks - I have an entire bookcase for them - love food mags and I love all the stuff that goes with cooking and kitchen-ing. Put me in a kitchenware store and I wont be out for a week.
So how to choose my one, single, most favouritest thing?
Perhaps my KitchenAid stand mixer that I coveted for years before Beloved put one under the Christmas tree for me?
I adore it, but it's not my favourite.
My Microplane grater? Close, very, very close, but no cigar.
Lemon zester? Citrus reamer? Scanpan classic frying pan? Juicer?
Nope. It's this.
My stick mixer. The thing that makes it my absolute favourite is the mini-processor bit. Its the perfect size for mincing garlic, onions, ginger etc., chopping herbs, making pastes - all the things I use a processor for without having to haul out my Big Bertha processor. And it does it in a flash, then goes straight into the dishwasher.
When I'm in the cooking zone, I use this several times a week. The whisk is also really handy too, except I've lost the little sleeve off the end at some stage, tragically.
So there you have it - and if you dont, you should get one.
No startling car accident post-script from me; just a cuppa and knitting on the couch. Bis morgen.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Although it's bee finished for months, I've been too lazy to blog the item in question. So finally, here it is.
Princess Grace's Birthday Pi Blanky.
It is of course based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi Shawl. I'm such a dreadful copy cat that once I saw Bell's beautiful Pi Blanky I knew I had to make one of my own, and cast this on as a brainless knitting project when I was about 7 months pregnant.
Pattern: EZ's Pi Shawl, from Knitter's Almanac (Rav link)
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8 ply in Tuscan (200g) and a grey colour I'm not sure of (about 220g). I had the Tuscan in the Stash (yay) and Bells gave me the grey.
Needles: 5mm Knitpicks options
Mods: I guess one doesn't really modify and EZ pattern, does one? As you can see, it just did the eyelet rows on the increase rows in the red section, then about every 6th row in the grey. I did the ordinary garter stitch edging.
Here it is blocking:
And finally, here it is with the recipient. Shhhh.
Suits her, don't you think?
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Rain overnight, an early visit to the markets, friends whom we havent seen in about 5 years for a bbq lunch, kids tearing around the backyard (it stopped raining), cleaning up afterwards, leftovers for dinner and collapsing on the couch with a Hitchcock film on the teev, a cup of tea and knitting in my lap....
So, instead, just a quick piccie of the wee ones taken yesterday.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Yeah, thanks for that, Nana.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Today was a fabulous, lovely, shiny day - it was warm (26oC), sunny and lightly breezy. The Princess and I headed to our local plaza / mall to do some clothes shopping for me. It was a much more successful expedition than I've had in the recent past, and I was even fiscally responsible enough to lay-by everything instead of buying it straight up. Aren't I good?
Then after a lovely impromptu lunch with Kuka, who works very close by, we came home, threw the doors and windows open, and while Princess G slept, I finished off a little sewing project.
I've been trying to make a pair of these shoes for about two weeks, but kept getting stymied - first I didn't have the right interfacing, then I didn't have the right thread, then I didn't have the right elastic....
Anyway, today, I finally did the last 30 minutes work required, and was very satisfied with the result.
The pic is a little too blue; they're actually light and dark purple. And the sole pulls in a bit where the tops and heels join, but I think that's because the soles might be too thin to resist the elastic (just two layers of cotton, no interfacing or fleece).
I've got lots more of these planned. They use a teeny amount of fabric, and take only about an hour or maybe two to make, now I know how to do them.
Wow, two posts in less than 24 hours - whoda thunk it?
Since being at home on maternity leave with the Princess, I find if I sit down in front of the computer, hours just get sucked away, I do an email or two, read some blogs, do a little Ravelry-ing, and the whole day is gone.
I have lots of goals for my leave, not the least of which is to enjoy my special time with the Princess (but never doubt I have a massive, multi-layered list of Things to Do), and unfortunately being on the computer excludes every thing else. I don't think sitting on my lap watching the screen counts as suitable stimulation for a 3-month-old.
I have made a conscious effort to reduce my screen-time. I don't want to find whole days have been sucked out my week by faffing about the internets. I don't want to find it's January, I'm heading back to work, the Princess is 6 months old and I've done nothing of consequence with this very important time. I am very privileged to have significant maternity leave in a country where many women are forced to go back to work after just 6 weeks (and many don't even get any remuneration for those 6 weeks), and I feel obliged not to fritter it away on frivolous things.
It's spring here in Canberra, and I want to enjoy being outdoors with the Princess and Pirate Jim. I would like to achieve some long-standing goals around the home, such as decluttering and re-organising all the stuff we have. I want to have more than an hour a day to spend on knitting. I want to get back to sewing, and crocheting, and spinning, I cant do that from in front of the computer.
As a consequence I have dropped out of the blogging habit, and although I try and read them, I comment much less often on other blogs. I still read, but I just observe, don't participate as much. I have been an appalling correspondent of late, and am dreadfully behind in returning emails.
But I miss it. I have decided that, rather than feel guilty about my screen time, I need to be more disciplined, give myself discrete windows of usage time, and not stray from that.
So ironically, rather than step further back from blogging, I will step up instead, and take on a challenge. Blogtoberfest has started over on Big Cat's Emporium, and I'm signing up. There's no pressure, just the challenge of posting every day. I'm a day late, but better late than never, I say!
Bring it on! Now, I'm just off to check Rav, and my email, and the weather in Belgrade....