31 October 2009

fin

The end of Blogtober! I think I missed three days in the whole month, so not too shabby.

It is also the end of Mystery Sock Number One. Behold.

One mystery sock complete

Number Two was cast on tonight and is progressing well thus far. The design details in this sock are typical of Kirsten's patterns - interesting to knit and beautifully thought out. There is a lovely little lace detail in the middle of the cuff, and the leaf or petal design finishes beautifully on the toe. I will definitely be signing up for any future mystery knit-alongs that Kirsten hosts.

In other news, I indulged in a smattering of stash enhancement today. A select tangle of knitting bloggers met up today at Morris & Sons (which happily was having a 30% - 80% off sale) and shamelessly encouraged each other in the exchange of large amounts of cash for some luxurious yarns.

I slipped and fell and accidentally ended up with two skeins of Debbie Bliss pure silk, to be dyed and knitted into a future shawl ...

silk

... and then put back the 10 pack of Cleckheaton Naturals in cornflower blue that I'd been lugging about and exchanged it for the far more expensive but satisfying 6 skeins of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed. I see some sort of blue cardigan in my future and have already spent far more time than is healthy perusing my Ravelry queue in search of the perfect pattern.

Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed

Fin.

PS. Do go back to yesterday's post and read the comment from pebble dash. It's worth it.

PPS. As it's the last of the month, I've updated my current favourite blogs of the moment, over there on the sidebar. My blogroll was getting out of control so I've decided to just highlight a rotating half dozen inspirational blogs each month. Please enjoy.

30 October 2009

Friday

light at the beginning of the tunnel
Completely unrelated random photograph

Recently I left a comment anecdote rather longwinded story on Grace's blog when she showed a picture of an insanely adorable little sausage dog wearing a red coat, appliqued onto a baby tee-shirt. Grace, who is as gracious as her name suggests, replied to my comment to tell me that she loved my little story and that it should be released to the world. So here it is. (Leslie might like it also, or at least Baxter might).

I am part of a carpool that operates between three families, a high school and a primary school. Thus, three mornings a week I have several grade four and two children in my car for a twenty minute journey. (Yes, I hear all sorts of things - good, bad and sad. But I digress).

During the journey the children always play some sort of hilarious game like inventing ludicrous translations for the acronyms of other cars' number plates, or counting car competitions etc. At the moment it's Hard Rubbish collection around our area and they are constantly badgering me to stop so they can pick up that "awesome" computer monitor/broken office chair/old bookcase/miscellaneous junk off the footpath and take it to their doting teacher or home to their longsuffering parents (I decline, usually).

Anyway, the most enduring game, and one that is generally played every single day even if other games are going on simultaneously, is Spot the Lucky Items. This game has evolved organically over the months and involves the spotting of a number of things that we regularly or semi-regularly see on our morning commute, and the gauging of how good the day is going to be according to the percentage of items crossed off the list. These items include, in order of appearance as we travel from east to west, a shiny yellow VW beetle (circa 2005) in the swimming pool carpark, a red Hummer (for heaven's sakes) pulling out of a particular side street, a rusty yellow VW beetle (circa 1976) parked in the railway station carpark, the 8.51am train (double points if it's going over the bridge as we pass underneath), the meeting of a bus on the one-lane bridge (double points if we have to reverse off the bridge), a vintage brown car parked outside its house, and the little girl walking to school accompanied by her mother who always wears head to toe purple (except for the days she's wearing head to toe red, or orange - is she a closet Hari Krishna I ponder to myself?).

By now, those of you who live near my way, and I know there are a couple of you, may be recognising things from this list.

However, by far the most exciting and important thing to spot is the Little Brown Dachschund in the Red Coat, being walked by his adult male owner and an assorted bunch of children, one or more of whom may or may not be on a Razor scooter. (For a while there in winter the Little Brown Dachschund sported a snazzy brown drizabone sheepskin-lined coat, which while understandable given the winter temperatures at 8.43am, was just not the same. Luckily now spring has sprung the red coat has returned). The Little Brown Dachschund is extra special because we only see him occasionally, perhaps only once a fortnight, and the children get so excited now that they've started winding down the windows and calling out. At first his owners were a bit startled and I suspect thought the children were being cheeky, but now they smile and graciously acknowledge the adoring cheers.

Everyone is agreed; it doesn't matter how few other items are spotted on a Dachschund Day, it is most definitely going to A Most Excellent Day.

PS. A Most Excellent Day to a gaggle of eight and ten year olds = double sport, gardening, library, free drawing and the eurythmy teacher's absence due to illness.

PPS. I promise I didn't leave a comment quite this long in someone's commentbox. Honest.

28 October 2009

19

I know, I know, I missed yesterday's Blogtober post. I have a good excuse though ...

heads down bums up

... we were very busy celebrating our wedding anniversary.

26 October 2009

morning light

early morning sunlight

Each morning as I struggle to drag myself out of bed, I think to myself Tonight I will go to bed early.

And every night I think to myself Oh, just one more row ... (page, blog, etc).

25 October 2009

Inkish

Ishbel

Cobwebby ... ethereal ... delicious.

Ravelled.

24 October 2009

saturday sunrise snaps

merry merry king of the bush is he

early morning sunlight

early morning sunlight

early morning sunrise

The morning light has been sublime lately.

Thanks for all your sweet words for Son #3 yesterday. Today's he's less vomitty but still fragile and now with a bonus headache, which I have as well. So he and I had a lovely quiet day today at home while the others went to the school spring fair. The kookaburras cackled all around us and our resident echidna toddled about blissfully ignoring us.

This evening they're all at the soccer match in town (Son #3 dosed up with paracetamol and a chuckbag close to hand), I've got Ishbel blocking on the floor beside me and I'm about to have a cup of tea and indulge in a movie.

23 October 2009

Gastro: a tale bullet points

• the littlest fella spent a couple of hours in Sick Bay today until I could get to school to pick him up

• we are not generally a vomitty family so we are not coping well

• oh the laundry!

• and the smell that permeates the house

• the pitiful moaning, the wan, pinched little face

• the feverish little body lies on the couch, swathed in a snuggly handmade blue and green quilt, (so I guess it's not all bad)

22 October 2009

A leaf and a couple more answers

gift from the middle child

Son #2 walks his dog every morning and usually returns with a little treasure for me. Often a leaf, sometimes a seedpod or a nicely shaped stone.

Ok, continuing the blogfodder answers.

Linda de-lurked to ask ...

guilty pleasures? (the kind you can talk about, of course)
Buying these lollies and hiding them in my car so I don't have to share.

if money and time didn't come into it, would you prefer to travel by train, plane or ship?
I love the cliched romance of train travel. When I was 12 my family travelled from Melbourne to Perth by train (wait, have I answered this already on the blog, or did I merely compose this answer in my head? gah!). Anyway, I loved that trip - four days on a train, sleeping in those impossibly tiny cabins where everything folds away into the walls during the day, and magically reappears in the evening while you are in the Dining Car (Second Sitting). My brother and I spent hours roaming the carriages, up and down the winding corridors (yes, train corridors wind as the sleeping cabins are on opposite sides of the carriage), and played cards and board games and pianola in the Club Car every afternoon.

Ever since then I've been mildly besotted with long haul train journeys and have researched and dreamt about all the famous trips - the Iron Rooster (thank you Paul Theroux), the Ghan, and of course The Orient Express (thank you Agatha Christie). The Hogwarts Express looks pretty cool too.

best advice you have ever been given?
My mum always said do a touch typing course because you'll never be out of a job. I always resisted it, believing I'd be forever stuck in a secretarial job, but then I went to London to work as a 'temp' for a few months to fund my backpack-around-Europe-trip and the range of jobs available to someone who couldn't type, was limited to say the least. Upon return to Australia I caved and did a typing course and lucky I did or I would be even more crap at WordTwist, a less verbose blogger, and not to mention much slower at my job. Lots of my work colleagues are typists of the hunt n' peck breed and I just know they look enviously upon my superior skills. Shut up, they do.

did you follow it?
Oops. See above.

ETA: Yes the Trans Siberian Railway too.

20 October 2009

Blogtober 20: running out of post titles

custom dye job for sheepsclothing

Over the last couple of weekends I squeezed in another custom dye job for Stacey at Sheeps Clothing.

custom dye job for sheepsclothing

I can't wait to see what she does with it.

And a few more answers:
White chocolate Tim Tams? I've not noticed those on the supermarket shelves! I imagine they would only be good in small doses though. (Four biscuits in one sitting rather than seven). (KIDDING).

The shoes? From Colorado, purchased in March of this year so you might still be able to get them. They were my birthday present from the mister. Actually they weren't - he originally bought me a pair of totally hideous unsuitable sandals so I returned them and got these. Also the shop was having a buy one item and get the second item half price so I came home with a black merino-cashmere jumper too. Oops.

Oh and the baby girl names? I was reminded by Kim, another blogger who also never got to utilise her girlchild names, that Matilda was on my list also, with Tilly for short. And that in turn reminded me that a name I really really loved for a girl was Milly. However, combined with the surname that my husband and children have, it sounds like a medication, or a little fairy creature that might live at the bottom of your garden. So, that was out. The couple of you who know my childrens' surname (it's different to mine, yes to both parts of my hyphenated surname) will be chuckling at that and the rest of you will just have to scroll back to the top of the post and enjoy the yarn.

Sorry.

19 October 2009

reason #957 why I love the internet

Do you remember this photograph, taken in the depths of winter this year?

along the road

Soon after I put it up on flickr, a friend asked if she could paint it. (I said yes, very hurriedly).

Bringing the new day

My friend the artist (I love saying that) painted it, and then it went in an exhibition! You know, in a real gallery. With other paintings and pieces of glorious artworks, both by Michelle and other artists.

Yesterday I went to visit the painting and see it in the flesh, so to speak. It was quite thrilling to see it up on the wall - familiar, and yet not. *

My travelling companion (Son #1) had piked an hour before lift off so I had a rare day to myself. Quite lovely. I even went to the beach, which was cool and silvery and soft on this Spring day, with gentle plooshing waves instead of the blazing blue skies and crash and blast of summer.

sand in my shoes

It was quiet except for a few fishermen trying their luck.

tea tree blossom

Apparently when the tea tree is blossoming, the snapper will be biting, I overheard a fisherman tell his young son.

tea tree

I love tea trees and their twisted, gnarled ways. They remind me of the beachside suburb where I grew up - we used to make cubbies and hideouts in the tea tree between the road and beach and have all sorts of daring adventures. Until a local perve put paid to our innocent fun and we were banned from going there.

overlap

I watched the overlapping waves for a while and marvelled at how they reminded me of [knitted] lace. (Everything reminds me of lace at the moment. I even dreamt about silk lace the other night).

blown

* If you want to catch this beautiful exhibition before it closes next Sunday, you can find it at Gallery 775 in Red Hill.

18 October 2009

Sunny Sunday

Clue 2, complete

Clues number 2 and 3 of the Through the Loops Mystery Sock Knit-along complete in my sunny yolk-yellow dyed sock yarn ...

yellow lilies

and these little stunners, brightening up the family room.

17 October 2009

floral

floral

A couple of people asked quite soul searching and/or challenging questions so I am taking a break in order to do them justice.

In other news, this year I am intent on having flowers in my house at all times.

16 October 2009

and yet more answers

Heat of the summer or cool of the winter? Why?

Oh, can I wimp out and say I love autumn and spring best? Generally I love warm weather, but not stinking hot, and after last summer, the prospect of another one is filling me with fear and trepidation. Having said that, I don’t do extreme cold well either – I can’t bear the permanently cold hands and nose and the scurrying from room to room and back to the fireplace. Gee I miss central heating, although I do like snuggling up by the fire with a book or my knitting.

Tim tams are OK, but what do you think about the other ones with mint (called mint slices)?

Yep, they are mint slices and I adore them, although rarely buy them because I have absolutely no will power. However if pressed to choose which I’d take to my desert island, I couldn’t go past Tim Tams.

If you didn't live in Victoria, where would you live?

Are we talking realistically, or in my fantasy so things like needing to work don’t come into it?

Realistically, there are lots of places I would possibly live. Most likely of them all would be nearer my parents in Queensland. I could perhaps live in Brisbane in one of those suburbs that has those fabulous old Queenslander houses – all wood and shutters and up on stilts and with huge wide wrap around verandahs and decorative fretwork and ceiling fans and frangipani in the gardens. I believe Red Hill and Paddington are the two suburbs I’m thinking of. Years ago when my parents moved to Queensland they tried to talk us into following them (although they live on the Cold Ghost and we would have to live in Brisbane in order to survive stay sane). We did a tour of the Brisbane suburbs and got half-heartedly enthused about moving there, but in the end the combination of two facts defeated us (friends and humidity) and the move never happened.

Fantasy? Venice for half of the year and a sustainable house in a remote lush green valley somewhere warm for the other half. But not hot. Or humid.

How long have you ever left the household detritus just pile up and spill over while you indulged in a book, some sewing or some knitting. Days? Weeks? Hours? or never?

Oh my, you haven’t seen my house have you? I have whole areas of my house that are permanently like that. The study, for example. And the storage room. And the filing pile that lives in a basket on the kitchen bench but which I recently dealt with (yay me!) after THREE YEARS of inaction. I felt six kilos lighter that day.

How have the recent bushfires affected the way you feel about living in the bush? Do you still love it? Do you feel safe? Do you feel stronger as a community, or more vulnerable?

An interesting question that I suspect a lot of relatively new-to-the-bush people like us are grappling with this year. I do still love it, and it has certainly brought the community together in many ways, such as the re-establishment of neglected Community Fireguard Groups and so on. Our street has got its Group up and running again and had several meetings and a street walk with the CFA, and although there is much anxiety and hard work, the street suddenly feels like a neighbourly and coherent community. We make our fire plans in conjunction with each other (ie. there's a phone tree, and notations of who plans to stay and who to go, and if there's no warning and we all have to stay, which house everyone gathers in with the children and animals and the adults protect that house, etc. Plans B, C and D).

I know that for the first time since we moved here, the community fire information meetings are packed, and every weekend the buzz of chainsaws echoes around the hills as people clear undergrowth and fallen branches. And Bunnings has run out of gutter plugs.

However I don't feel safe. Who could, after 7th February? Our plan is to evacuate (sorry, 'relocate' as per the new terminology) but what if that's not possible? It's scary.

And Steiner schools... do you think it has made a difference to your kids and the way they see themselves and the world? How much do you think kids are influenced by schooling as opposed to home life?

That first one's a hard one, because I don't know what my children would be like if they hadn't had a Steiner education. I can guess, but it would be just that.

I do believe they have a deep sense of belonging to a community in the true sense of the word. The children stay with each other and the same teacher for so many years and the bonds are incredibly strong. They learn true social responsibility; there is a very powerful group dynamic in each of my boys' classes. I hope when they're adults functioning in other communities such as their workplaces or families, they will appreciate the grounding that their schooling gave them and the tools with which it has [hopefully] equipped them.

They learn so many practical life skills too, that they can't help but gain confidence and a belief that they can turn their hand to anything. They grow vegetables, cook, camp, build, carve, knit, play musical instruments, sew, perform in a play every year, camp, write poems, you name it, they do it. Yesterday Son #1 came home and said Oh by the way Mum, we're making hoodies in craft at the moment. Hoodies, as in sweatshirts with hoods. They just do it, and I reckon that's a huge gift to give children in a society which encourages them to consume, not create. It's got to have an impact on the way they see themselves and their place in the world, right?

As for how much kids are influenced by schooling as opposed to home life, I would say it works out roughly equally. In the primary school years probably home life is the greater influence, but later is balanced out in the teenage years where their peers and school environment are everything. So, both but to different extents at different stages of the child's life. That said, we try to keep the messages and strategic directions (sorry, I've been at work writing reports all day today, can't think of more appropriate term but you get what I mean?) at home broadly coherent with those at school. Broadly.

Phew. You people are making me work.

Favourite Elvis Costello song? Comparison to your choice of (a) Paul Kelly and/or (b) Nick Cave?

Ah, a trivial interlude. Thank heavens.

My favourite would have to be Shipbuilding although I also adore Alison and Veronica and Watching the Detectives. I've had that wonderfully descriptive line She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake in my head all week. I was never a Nick Cave girl I'm afraid, he just was too dark and brooding for me, but Paul Kelly, oh yes. Paul Kelly is a poet in every sense of the word and it's impossible to choose one favourite, there are so many.

The other day I opened a news website and a picture of Paul Kelly flashed up and my first shocked thought was OMG he's died (glass half full, not, etc). It was just an ad, not a news item but I was quite jolted and realised that if it had been true, I would have wept there and then. It gave me a whole new insight into celebrity and our emotional investment in it, as well as a fresh understanding of all those people who cried when Princess Diana died (I was shocked, but I didn't shed tears), or John Lennon (shocked but not the least bit personally affected).

Robert Downey Jr. versus Alan Rickman. Discuss.

Ok so you all laughed the other day when I said I got Paul Newman and Paul McCartney mixed up. Well, I also used to get Ben Mendelson and Russell Crowe mixed up until they reached their 30s and Crowe became hairier and more aggressive, and I also get Robert Downey Jr. and Rob Lowe mixed up. Stop it, I do. So there I was thinking Hmmm, Snape or Sam from West Wing? And then I got all twitchy and Googled which of course immediately set me straight and there is no discussion possible. Alan Rickman it is, all.the.way.baby.

Is there anything you'd never knit again or a yarn you'd never recommend to a friend?
Novelty yarn, and the Zokni sock. (And most certainly never together).

the dreaded Zokni

That is the Zokni sock and it is destined to be a single lonely sock, because I sure as heck am never knitting this again. I'm not even sure I'll ever finish it, and yet look how close it is!

I'm gagging for a cup of tea so ... let's do this again on the weekend. Said the bishop to the actress.

ps. Oh joy, my 15 year old self sufficient Steiner educated child just offered to make me the cup of tea. He is such a gift to the world with his practical skills.

15 October 2009

Installment III: Penni's questions

Penni asked two questions:

What sort of cake, biscuit or other would you make if you had hazelnut meal in the house?

If you had a girl baby, what would you call her?


And so I can reveal the following.

I would make Coffee Hazelnut Gateau, which sounds posher than it really is.

1/2 cup of sugar
4 eggs
100g hazelnut meal
6 tablespoons of plain flour (I use 3 white and 3 wholemeal)
1 tablespoon of coffee powder/granules
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the sugar and eggs together, adding the eggs one at a time. Fold in the nuts, then the cinnamon, flour and coffee.
Mix and pour into a shallow cake tin and bake on moderate heat for 15 minutes (so unbelievably quick). It makes a dryish, low rise cake which you can then ice with coffee flavoured icing, dust with icing sugar, or leave plain. It's a lovely cake with a cup of tea or coffee, and my youngest absolutely adores a small square of it in his lunchbox.

I found the recipe on the back of the Lucky Ground Hazelnuts years ago, but it's not there any more.

Rosie, Alice, Hannah or Jemima. Sigh ...

14 October 2009

The Answers: installment II

A couple more answers tonight ...

What surprising thing made you smile this week?
This is a great question, which is why I didn't want to just stick it on the end of last night's post. My first thought was ugh, nothing made me smile this week (glass half full I am not right now), but then I pulled myself together and it became a rewarding and worthy exercise. Kind of like that choosing joy attitude. So, some surprising things that made me smile recently:

• An email exchange with my boss (not my immediate boss of whom I have spoken fondly on the blog before, but our bigger boss). I tend to be quite formal with the big boss, and I had politely requested some information, to which he replied he and his colleague would wrestle for it, which made me smile. I responded "Thumb wrestle?" and one replied "No mud!" while the other said "Jelly, thanks". His next email even included a smiley emoticon. Gosh, they're human after all.

• Clue no. 2 of the Through the Loops Mystery Sock turned out beautifully, not that I expected any less. It's pleasingly similar to the Artichokes socks I am still plodding along with three times a week during my work lunch hour.

• Son #3 announcing that he thought instead of Celebrity MasterChef (with which he and I have become slightly obsessed), they should hold a Celebrity MasterDoc in which famous doctors battle it out in front of Ministers for Health (ok I came up with that last bit). Ladies and gentlemen, you have one and a half hours to cure this patient; your time begins ... NOW. [...] Tick tick tick, etc. Bzzzzz! Step away from the slab. Sorry Karl, your patient carked it, and Cindy yours is scarred for life but Fiona! You go through to the next round!

• The sunrises this week. Silver and blue and soft apricot, with ribbons of mist in the valleys.

Spring morn

• The totem tennis spiral thingie that always manages to show up in the photos I take of our view, but which I never notice until they're already uploaded (hint: bottom right of shot).

There were several other lovely things that made me smile I know, because I was mulling this over on my drive home last night and I remember that I thought of a plethora of smile-inducing moments. However they're gone from my head.

Anyway, I might try and do this on a regular basis. As I said, it's an exercise that deserves a regular airing.


What's your next big knitting project you're longing to get started on?
That one's easy. I am hanging out, yet simultaneously terrified, to cast on for a Gail (aka Nightsongs) Shawl (Ravelry link).

13 October 2009

The Answers: installment I

Lots of lovely questions. Thank you! The blog lives another day!

What's your fave thing to knit?
These days, shawls and socks.

What do you do as a career? besides knit?
I work at a university, in the governance and policy secretariat. Once upon a time I was a writer in an advertising agency.

Any chance you might come to Ohio, USA? Barring that, how would you feel about a very long distance swap?
I think I can safely say it is extremely unlikely I will experience the joys of Ohio in this lifetime. However I have a modest selection of hand dyed yarns that could feasibly participate in some kind of swap. Have your people talk to my people and we'll commence negotiations.

(Someone was greedy and asked ten questions. Good thing she's a pal, eh?)
1. What's your favorite breakfast cereal?

Porridge. Although that fancy pants toasted muesli that comes in "clusters" and costs about $6 for a tiny 500g box is pretty fine. Unrealistic, but fine.

2. How do you drink your coffee?
You haven't been paying attention lovey. I don't drink coffee; haven't done for years. Tea all the way, with a hot chocolate occasionally if I'm feeling decadent.

3. Caramel TimTams vs. Original TimTams: Is it possible to neatly slam a caramel TimTam? Does the resulting mess even matter compared to slamming a regular TT? Discuss.
It is not possible. Yes it matters. No discussion entered into. One only slams with Classics.

4. Can we talk about candy bars? You guys have Cherry Ripes - I could eat those ALL DAY LONG. Why don't Americans have better coconut candy bars? What are your most/least favs?(I guess that's all several questions...)
Yes it is. Yes we can (we call them chocolate bars though). I have no idea why Americans don't have better coconut candy bars - perhaps you should direct your question to an American. Maybe Americans aren't overly fond of the coconut flavour? Do you have Bounty Bars? I do note that Americans thoroughly enjoy peanut butter as a flavour, while (warning! generalisation ahead!) Australians and English generally don't. I mean, we will eat the occasional piece of toast with peanut butter slathered on it, but the idea of peanut butter mixed with chocolate and consumed as a sweet is not overly popular. (I've tried those peanut butter cup things sent over by a friend, and nearly gagged, as did my children). Also, that peanut butter and jam sandwich thing you lot do? Not done here. Ick. Yeah, Cherry Ripes are ok, except for that whole fake cherry flavour thing. My favourite chocolate bar? Currently the Twix is a favourite, but I also love Picnics and Chokitos. If we're talking blocks of chocolate, I love Lindt milk chocolate, good old Cadbury Fruit n Nut, and the rarely spotted but highly prized dark chocolate and raspberry blend. (Those of you who ask what's a tim tam, what's a chokito, what's a cherry ripe? Remember, Google is your friend). My least favourite - American peanut butter flavoured chocolate.

Do you have a fail safe quick supper when everyone's tired and hungry .... and you're the tiredest and hungriest of them all?
We had this exact situation tonight as today we were all at work and school and there were no leftovers in the fridge. The absolute quickest and easiest is a simple pasta. Put the water on and while it's coming to the boil, chop an onion and throw it in a saucepan with some olive oil and garlic. Open a tin of tomatoes or roughly chop the last of the tomatoes in your fruit bowl, and together with a splodge of tomato paste, add to the saucepan. Add some chopped silverbeet or spinach and a handful of whatever herb you have in your garden (tonight it was parsley but in summer it would be basil) and stir until the pasta is cooked. Serve with lots of parmesan. The whole process takes 10 minutes and honestly it is sooo much nicer than a jar of pasta sauce, even the good ones by those five brothers or Mr Newman.

[slight digression.]

Speaking of Mr Newman, on the way home from the Elvis Costello concert the mister and I had a dispute over whether Paul McCartney was dead or not. I was convinced he was, and googled the minute we got home, only to find him alive and kicking. I always get him mixed up with Paul Newman. (For the record, despite hating to be wrong, I am thrilled that the McCartney Paul is thriving). (Also for the record, vale Paul Newman).

[/end digression./]


Jeans or skirts?
Both these days. However I went through a phase when I was about 19 or 20 when I gave up jeans and trousers of all sorts and only wore skirts for a year or two. I eventually went back to pants. Over the last few years, until relatively recently I didn't own a pair of denim jeans, only corduroy jeans. Then I found a black denim pair that are really comfortable and I wear them all the time. You can see them in some of the shawl modelling shots. The back pockets curl up so my t-shirts don't sit neatly, but they're comfortable so I don't care. (God it's wonderful not being 18 any more and caring about that sort of thing. The other night in Lygon St when a friend and I saw Mao's Last Dancer we came out of the cinema to find it witches' tit freezing. Real coat and scarf weather. And there on the footpath were two teenage girls in teetering heels, shoestring strap tops and skirts so short you could almost see what they'd had for lunch. My friend turned to me and said My lord aren't you thrilled we're not that age any more?)

And that was a much longer answer than you were after I suspect.

More tomorrow.

ps. Janet, natch is naturally.

12 October 2009

q&a: II

In an effort to keep going with this blogtober thing a bit longer before I admit defeat, I'm going to repeat the q&a session I did over two years ago (only with different questions, natch).

Ask me a question, any question, and I'll see what I can do.

Son #1's handiwork

That wooden bowl was Son #1's Fathers Day present to his dad. He carved it out of a block of wood at school. It's quite beautiful, and smooth as a baby's bum.

11 October 2009

sadly there was no shipbuilding

Dear Blog,

I could not visit you last night because I was at a very excellent concert. The elegant, erudite, enduring, Elvis Costello.

inky ishbel

I've also been working on my Ishbel. First four rows of the lace patten complete.

I promise to try and visit you again tomorrow.

Best,
Suse

9 October 2009

Sneaking it in before the witching hour

Gosh you people have strong opinions regarding squirrels don't you? No we don't have squirrels, but we have Enid Blyton books in which cheerful youngsters have pet squirrels who do not bite, no, they scamper up to sit on their young masters' shoulders, nattering endearingly in their little red furry squirrelly ways.

Son #1 is home, showered and proclaiming the camp awesome. When I asked if he had been warm enough he replied brightly "Almost!"

Also, it did not rain, hail or thunder once. That's what happens when you live in a state that is as large as many of the world's countries - the north of the state has a completely different climate. It was sunny and dry and get this, they swam in the Murray every day. Teenagers are tough.

I just saw Mao's Last Dancer at the cinema with a friend (Son #1 was whisked away by his father and brothers to a very important soccer match so I felt no maternal guilt at going out tonight, on this, his first night home). The film was rather beautiful to look at, the dancing was absolutely magnificent and there was a thoroughly cathartic weep towards the end, but oh there were some cringeworthy scenes and dialogue. But it's a true story (must read book now) and did you know Li Cunxin is now a stockbroker, living in Kew (suburb of Melbourne)? How about that. We played spot the Australian actor - Penne Hackforth-Jones (nearly didn't get that one as she was not wearing a bonnet or kneading bread in an early settler kitchen), Jack Thompson under a large beard, etc. And the pumpkin risotto at Trotters was up to its usual standard so all up it was a good night.

Tired now. Bed.


8 October 2009

what's hot + what's not

Bandwagon, jump, etc.

Hot

• New dishcloth, as our old ones are kind of scuzzy these days. Easy moss stitch border with a basketweave patten inner.

new dishcloth

• Clue number two of the mystery socks was released today. This evening saw two rounds of the pattern completed and looking good.

• Sitting by the fire in the evenings, me knitting, Mr Soup and the children reading.

• Reading in bed before sleep. Current book is Tuesdays with Morrie which I am finding overly sentimental and not terribly well written. I'll probably get lynched for that - I know it was a huuuge bestseller.

• Picking up The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir at the library tonight on my way home from work. Loved her first novel Innocent Traitor so have high hopes for this one. At least you know the historical research will be spot on when it's a novel written by an eminent historian.

• Son #3's recent obsession with the idea of having a pet squirrel (never mind that there are no squirrels in Australia, this will not deter him). He makes me giggle.

The view from our windows, especially the last two mornings. Today I didn't have time for breakfast before leaving for school drop off and work because the minute I got up I simply had to grab my camera and spend 15 minutes photographing first the view and then a kookaburra.

• Birds in the birdfeeder every day. Rosellas one day, cockies the next. This morning a kookaburra was hanging around hoping for tidbits of sausage that we keep in the freezer but refusing to pose photogenically.

parrot

• Spring flowers. The cistus is blooming and two bearded iris are waving their frilly heads about. My two red single climbing roses are covered with buds.

• Ishbel. First four rows of the lace pattern complete.

Not

• Haven't seen the baby magpie for a few days. Hope he's ok.

• Huge clean up still to do in preparation for bushfire season.

• Bushfire season.

• Stupid long days at work.

• Ongoing worry and distraction while Son #1 is away.

• Vacuuming.

• Son #3's inevitable disappointment on Christmas morning when he realises he will not be getting a pet squirrel.

7 October 2009

spring into ... autumn?

Let's break it up with a little hand dyed goodness.

Leaf Litter

Because really, this posting every day is a bit wearing, isn't it?

Introducing 'Leaf Litter', a fingering weight wool dyed by yours truly in an attempt to capture the feel of an autumnal forest. (I know it's spring here, but that means it's autumn somewhere in the world I'm sure). This is a 100g skein of sock yarn, non superwash (ie. handwash only) and is therefore destined for a shawl. Or the etsy shop, depending on whether I cave into my current craving for a skein of fingering weight Sea Silk, and therefore need to top up my pretend money Paypal account. I'm somehow obsessed with the idea of knitting with a product made of silk and seaweed.

Leaf Litter

So many yarns, so little time.

6 October 2009

not quite as quick and dirty as it was meant to be

What a day. Back to work after a wee break and found my day was lined up with three meetings, along with the gazillion emails and phone messages awaiting me, and the usual gumpf. I didn't even have time to stop for lunch, let alone anything else. And now I have a throbbing headache and blah blah blah tired, moody, grim and worried about Son #1 who left at 6.30am on the latest of his school camps.

Son #1, the vague 15 year old who starred in my previous post, is in Class 9, which in Steiner schools (here at least) is the year where they keep 'em busy by taking them on camp after camp after camp. And these camps are not the sort of camp where one sleeps in a bunk bed in a cabin, with a shower and toilet block nearby, and a canteen serving mediocre meals three times a day. Oh nooo. The first camp (of six) this year featured tents (buddy up with a partner and bring your own tent, camp stove, food etc), but after that they just slept on tarps out in the open, and if it looked like rain, well they pegged the tarps in a kind of triangular shape so one end gave them some shelter.

So we thought he was pretty well equipped with a really good sleeping bag that cost almost as much as a small car, a few tent pegs and a tarp, a decent backpack (last year's Christmas present), and one of those tiny Trangia camping stoves that runs on the whiff of a rag dipped in metho. Over the months we've got the hang of packing lightweight but easy to cook food, enough for five days or so and he has learnt to enjoy couscous and tolerate powdered milk and mountain bread wraps. Hey, we thought, we have become experts at this, and thank goodness because there are two more children coming along behind him who will go on the same expeditions.

But then the notice came home for this, the fifth (I think, I'm losing track) camp. The "healthy poverty", no technology camp. The four day camp for which they are instructed to bring no sleeping bag, no mat, no pack, no torch, no stove, no tent (duh) and no rainwear. Just one change of clothes (eeww), rolled up inside three woollen blankets and tied with a rope to be slung over one shoulder. Also, one dilly bag (to be home made over the holidays) to carry food, candles, matches and a billy. The school will provide each student with a sturdy rope and a large sheet of black plastic which will be their ground sheet, raingear, and protective layer around their swag. They will cook over an open fire using only their billies and water from the river.

And now my baby is out there in the wilderness with no shelter, sleeping in his clothes and three woollen blankets. Eating couscous and river water.

Today? It has rained and hailed and returned to winter.

The forecast for the rest of this week? Rain, showers, rain, cold, more rain.

*****************************************************************************

Thank you everyone for your wonderful book suggestions and offers. I haven't got a hope of getting back to everyone individually, especially as Blogger doesn't give me your email addresses, but please accept my thanks here. You are good good people.

Here, have a look at the worm Mr Soup found the other day. Ginormous.

ginormous worm

5 October 2009

a conversation with my 15 year old son tonight

Me (very tired): The frying pan has been soaking in the sink for a while now. Could you please wash it so I can make the frittata for dinner? Use the green scrubby, not the stainless steel scourer or you'll damage it, and gently clean it.

Him: Sure. (Pause) What do I do again?

Me (very tired): Wash the frying pan please. Use the green scrubby, not the steel scourer, and gently wash the pan.

Him: Ok. (Goes to sink). There's water in the sink. Do I let it out?

Me (very very tired): No. Just wash the frying pan in the water.

Him: Should I use the stainless steel scourer?

******************************************************************************************************

Please enjoy this photo. It is pleasantly distracting from the realities of life with teenage boys.

Mystery socks, clue 1 complete

See that leetle bit of sock? That is Clue Number One of the Through the Loops 2009 Mystery Sock Knit-Along, complete. Roll on Thursday!

The end.

4 October 2009

bookish, with cockatoos

cockies

It's the last day of the school holidays. Term 4 starts tomorrow, announced the littlest child this morning when he came and snuggled in bed with me. He wishes he could stay at home and read read read all day long, interspersed with the odd walk down to the river for ice cream and duck-watching, of course.

We can't keep up with Son #3's demand for books these days. He recently re-read the entire Harry Potter series, then moved on to re-reading all five Rowan of Rin books in two days flat. The mister took him to the library for some new reading material on one of my work days, and came home with four new books (names and authors forgotten, sorry) which he read the next day and then it was back to the library for more. The good thing about being the youngest child is that there are lots of books in the house ready for him to move onto, but honestly we just can't keep up so he's re-reading lots of his old favourites. He started re-reading the Lemony Snicket series, which he originally read a few years ago, but we don't have all thirteen books on our shelf so he came to a halt while we put the next few on hold at the library. In the meantime he picked up the Narnia series (which he also read a couple of years ago) and within two days has finished the first three. (He's 10. Is this normal?)

He started the fourth book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this morning, and is already a third of the way through. By happy coincidence, my parents, who live in Queensland, announced this morning during their regular Sunday morning phone call that there's a Narnia film being made very close to them right now, on the water, which Wikipedia later confirmed for us is indeed Dawn Treader. Son #3 is very pleased to hear this.

As for me, I've read some beauties these holidays. First up was thirdcat's book Black Dust Dancing which was as readers of her wonderful blog would expect, spare, thoughtful, elegant and simply lovely. Even though I've never "met" Tracy, I count her as a friend (which all of you will understand but people who don't read blogs do not) and it was lovely to be able to read something written by a friend, and know it to be beautiful and successful. Also just to hold the book as a physical object, see it in bookshops and libraries, and feel pride and pleasure for that friend - love it. Squee!

Moving on now because I'm getting a bit squishy am I not?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog was next. Apparently every bookgroup in Australia is currently reading this French book (translated into English only last year so still new on the circuit), and library waiting lists are up to the 70s. I bought it instead, thoroughly enjoyed it, and handed it straight to Mr Soup who started it last night. It's another thought-provoking book, and quite unusual, and I can recommend that you read it. You might cry at the end too. I did. It's touching and funny and any book that can combine Russian literature, philosophy, manga, kairos and music and make it flow seamlessly together in one elegant narrative has got to be worth $27.95.

Which brings me to a brief rant about how expensive books are here. On the way to the Pancake Parlour on Friday I dragged Son #3 sideways into Dymocks quickly to see if I could find a certain book mentioned earlier (I couldn't - it is obviously Only Available in All Good Bookshops) to send to a certain friend in the US because she can't get it there, and saw two new books I'd also love to buy - the new Philippa Gregory book which was only available in hardback at $35.00, and the new Sarah Dunant which was $32.95 in paperback! I don't know about you but I can't casually walk into a bookshop and drop nearly seventy bucks on two books. It makes me cross. Particularly as there is also the new A S Byatt to buy too, and the new Audrey Niffenegger although I didn't see either of those. Good thing too as I was wanty enough by then. Ok, [/ end rant] and thank heavens for public libraries.

And just quickly because really, is anybody still reading this ramble? I read Ann Patchett's Run this week and although slower to sink its hooks into me than her masterpiece Bel Canto, by the middle of the book I couldn't put it down. Patchett's characters always live right alongside me in my daily life when I am reading her books and this was no exception. I am eternally grateful to another dear friend whom I've never "met" but who I seriously think of as one of my closest pals these days, for putting me onto Ann Patchett (and many other amazing authors).

And to bookend this ramble, I bring you two photos of some of the seven cockatoos who flew in yesterday to lark about and raid the parrots' bird feeder and generally behave like larrikins for a while before conducting a similar search and destroy mission three doors up where the two great danes live.

cockies

3 October 2009

and their fish, cat and guinea pigs too

the chook pen was muddy this week

We've been feeding our neighbours' chooks these holidays while they've been away enjoying more tropical climes.

2 October 2009

alone with the littlest crouton

afternoon tea

I'm thinking if I do the Blogtoberfest thing, it might get me back into the habit of blogging. Shame yesterday's post was so long, I could have turned it into five separate posts probably. Anyway, we'll see how I go. My track record with these things isn't so hot, actually.

It's been a quiet but lovely couple of days with my littlest fella. The older two are away and the mister has been at work so it's just been Son #3 and I, pottering, chatting, reading, taking trips to the library and the Pancake Parlour. He's good company, more so when he doesn't have his brothers around. Of all our boys, he's been a mummy's boy right from the start.

My cuddly, loving, freckle-faced apple eater.

Ok, let's see if I can do three days in a row. See you tomorrow.


1 October 2009

ahoy there, anybody on board?

It appears I fell off my blog again.

Never mind, let's just jump on again shall we?

It's school holidays here which means a whirlwind of juggling work and children, tagteaming with the husband and lots of picnics in the park with friends, movies, and special treats. And knitting, always with the knitting.

I seem to have fallen into a few informal swaps lately - not the sort that bloggers seem to love whereby a gazillion people sign up and there are deadlines and expectations (too stressful by half). These are more spontaneous, and generally begin with a random comment on Twitter, like the shawl and quilt swap from last month. This time I was the recipient of some absolutely beautiful stitch markers from Fresh Tea in New Zealand, in exchange for some blue dyed laceweight yarn. Look at these little beauties. Aren't they exquisite? I might have let out a small squee when I opened the parcel.

stitch markers

Now maybe I'll be able to knit the February Lady Sweater, which has defeated me five times with two different yarns in the last year, all for the lack of decent markers (yes, I tried bits of coloured wool, and safety pins, and plastic split rings but none of them worked - clearly they were just not pretty enough).

Fresh Tea was generous enough to include a second set as well, as she thought I might need contrasting colours. And if I knit the Laminaria as I'm plotting to do, I will need all the help I can get.

stitch markers

This week the postman brought me a box from Canberra filled with fabulous home made chutney, two kinds of plum sauce (thick and thin, with instructions for their respective uses), and the most divine quince paste, from Zoe at crazybrave. (You might know her from the collaborative foodie blog Progressive Dinner Party). I haven't photographed these, just consumed them.

In return Zoe requested some large olive green fingerless gloves.

olive Fetchings for Zoe

I used the left over green I dyed for my first shawl, and made the famous Fetchings pattern which I've now knitted six times I think. I modified this pair by adding another section of rib in the diameter, an extra cable at the top, and leaving off the rather fussy picot cast off, which always curls annoyingly anyway. I'm pleased with the extra cable at the fingertips and will do it again when I knit Fetching in the future - one row of cabling just looks unfinished. I'm very happy with these gloves overall, and hope Zoe is too.

olive Fetchings for Zoe

That photo was taken before they were blocked, and I see they're curling a bit at the top. Hopefully the blocking, and the being squished into a Postpak for two days will have fixed that. Also I hope they fit Zoe better than they do me. I have slender wrists, and Zoe has, in her words, "huge paws".

I've indulged in some more dyeing these holidays too. First up was some sock yarn ...

from the dye pot this week

Clockwise from top left: Denim, Yolk, Ink, Fire.

The Ink is already halfway to becoming an Ishbel for my mum, and the Yolk is sitting at my feet as I type, amid a sea of tiny sock sized dpns and swatches, as I ponder whether it will be the yarn I use for my latest sock adventure - Kirsten's mystery sock knit-along. Is anyone else doing this? Kirsten from Through the Loops releases a bit of the pattern on her blog each Thursday in October, and people all over the world knit along. Details at Through the Loops if you want to join in. I'm rather excited about it.

As for the other skeins, the Denim screams shawl to me, although socks would be glorious too wouldn't they, and the Fire, well I just don't know. The long neglected etsy shop perhaps?

The next major dye session was today, so no photographic evidence yet; the skeins are still dripping on my clothesline. I'm custom dyeing four skeins in two separate colourways for Sheeps Clothing, and believe me, replicating previous colourways is a challenge when your dyeing style is slapdash um, spontaneous and innovative.

What else? I had a day's work in the city this week instead of my usual location and spent a happy lunch hour in Morris & Sons and a brief session in Cleggs (no link because when I googled all I found was a termite removal company) after work. Also, I took the train there and back, which meant nearly two hours of knitting time all up. That was fun. I could get used to working in the city again. There are changes going on at work and there's a possibility that I might end up working a day per week in the city. I'll certainly be pushing for it.

Yesterday Stomper and her boys and me (I?) and my boys all went tenpin bowling together. That was fun too. I forgot my camera despite making all sorts of mental notes to remember it, but Stomper faithfully recorded our awesome bowling action for your viewing pleasure. Son #2 thrashed us all soundly, Cherub came second, while Son #1 who is our family's resident bowling champ, came a dismal last.

And now Sons #1 and #2 have been whisked away to the seaside with friends for four days, so it's just the littlest and I pottering about together. I think a trip tomorrow to the Pancake Parlour might be called for.

ps. The dog just stood up, turned around five times, and lay down again right on top of the skein of Yolk. Worse than a cat, he is.