Monday, March 30, 2009

’Art



This house is full of 'art'. So is the backyard. Although that's a whole other story about how Mr Myrtleandeunice, the sculptor of the family, is working from out of his shed and there seems to be a HECK OF A LOT OF LARGE-SCALE WORK WITH EXTREMELY LONG DISTANCE DEADLINES of late.

The kid art is equally prolific. The rhythm of most days is punctuated with spontaneous drawing sessions and our not-nearly two year old wants in on the action. Not for her, the gorgeous soy crayon rocks from the Stubby Pencil Studio, designed to 'encourage the use of the tripod grip to develop fine motor skills'. No, no. Her medium is the stuff of grown-ups: washable (thank goodness for small mercies) markers.

A few mornings ago, she toddled over to me, proudly bearing her page of painstaking scribblets, pointing and pronouncing ‘Art! Art!’. It took no less than four full minutes and eighty-seven ‘Art!’ repetitions, for me to realise my mistake. What Child Number Three was really drawing was a whole lot of ‘Heart!’. Of course.

The Chickummyjig



You can now download the free Chickummyjig pattern and tutorial right here. Consider it my (slightly-manic-like-he's-eaten-too-many-eggs) Easter gift to you.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Words and Pictures: Little Things



It has been a slow moving, curving ball, coming out of left field. And I should have seen it sooner. Distracted by the tunnel vision of a busy life, I have only recently opened my eyes to the stuff of growing old.

As I watch, my lovely Granny grapples with momentous change. To some, these changes are dismissed as little things. But then imagine the forfeiture of your drivers license and how indignant the loss of independence. The physical ailments and aches are the ultimate betrayal, as your body fails to keep up with your mind or stand up with your will. The loss of the little things knocks confidence; plants a seed of doubt. Less certain of your convictions, how tiring it is to stand up to the barrage of everyone's version of 'what's best'.

'Little Things' is this week's 'Words and Pictures' theme organised by Meet Me At Mikes. Take a peek here for more stories (you'll be needing a serious cup of tea).

The Singing Rainbow* continues: The Quest For Purple



I feel like I should be awarded the hand of a fair maiden, or at the very least, office of Lord of a Few Rings, after my efforts. It's taken me a good week to give up and accept: purple doesn't register on my rainbow radar.

I perked up a bit when I realised there was the button bowl to fall back on. The kids and I always enjoy a bit of a rummage around in there. However, I failed to factor in the early morningness, the kid under the weatherness and a Developmental Milestone or seven. Apparently, Child Number Three now has, way and beyond, the fine motor skills, eagle eye and do-it-myself required to single handedly sort the purple from the chaff. These shots are taken at the table. There are a great many others taken from the floor.

And what of the injustice of purple? The stuff doesn't even photograph true - what's with the too blue or too brown? While I could go off and colour tweak, frankly, I think it's smarter to take a breath and move on. Next stop: glorious orange.



PS. For those new to this blog and with the inclination to get to the bottom of all that above, go to here, here, here and here.

* The Singing Rainbow is based on the song "I can sing a Rainbow", by Arthur (I've-Got-A-Lot-To-Answer-For) Hamilton. The colours of the rainbow as they appear in this song are: red, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange and blue. Those who grew up with the correct colours of the rainbow, know them as dictated by the Roy G Biv rule: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Birth Day

Last night I took a punt. The planned arrival of Niece or Nephew Number 366 was scheduled for this morning and I was getting a last minute boy vibe. I tracked down some sweet little shell buttons, took a deep breath and FINISHED the Manly Baby Vest. Way too manly for little Cleo.

Fortunately, Mamma Bear softie caught my eye. I hadn't realised when I crafted her a year ago that she had been made for this little one all along. Clever, aren't I?



Of course, it's also Niece or Nephew Number 107's birthday and she is the recipient of a Lazy Days Skirt. Love that pattern. Since this niece isn't wildly into cartwheeling ("not swingy-out enough, Mum!"), hopefully she digs it too.



PS. Mamma Bear is a Nest Studio creation and can be found within the pages of Softies: 22 Friends For You to Sew, Knit and Crochet. You're a better man (not difficult) than me, if you can find that available anywhere online. Here's an ISBN (0670070823) to work with.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Thunder of Tiny Feet (I fully intend to knit the matching pair)



There isn't any gentle 'pattering' going on in my part of the world. As far as I can tell, anyone I have ever met is actively involved in having a baby. While this could be deemed a minor exaggeration, the first to arrive will be, excitingly, tomorrow, and this small, sweet bundle won't even be able to lay claim to his or her own birthday. There are now so many grandchildren in this family (it feels like 365 at the Christmas table) we are having to share around a few important dates.

A while ago, I experienced a moment of conscientious preparation and lined up the first of the baby gift projects. Everything has since fallen apart. Apparently, I am allergic to finishing. While I am concerned a theme may be developing, (as she glances to her left at the yellowing insurance documents, requiring but a witnessed signature), I may have the beginnings of an explanation.

When I make, I think a lot about the recipient. Endless consideration goes into the subtlety of colour and the perfect button. Of course, I always factor in the risk that I have read things appallingly and am about to gift something more vile than the birthday present from Aunt Hattie, in 1983. As I haven't the foggiest as to the flavour of any of these wee ones, it's all proving way too tricky. And then I have always been a sucker for pushing a deadline.

So here's where things stand. The Mary Jane Bootie above, which is supposed to be a 'left' but is looking disturbingly like a 'right', is after a tiny shiny red button and a bit of end-weaving in. Oh, and it's partner. You can find the pattern here.

Below, is the Manly Baby Vest, apparently intended for a very boy-flavoured wee one and wanting some small wooden buttons down the side and at one shoulder. Loved that it was all crafted in one, without any of that joining lark.



Then there is the excellent Baby Yoda pattern (with a 6-12 month version courtesy of Sooz, here). A great knit, because the wraparound style, (assuming the i-cords eventuate), means that it fits a bit longer.



Now for the procrastination and diversion. I ended up enjoying this knit so much, that I'm back for round two.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble



How do you blog about a smell? How can you do justice to a spicy, gutsy, textural, all-pervading, it's-going-to-be-in-our-clothes-for-a-week sort of stench? Luckily, it's a glorious perfume and it's one that marks the passing of another year. This is the season that Mr Myrtleandeunice makes chutney. It's a fruity, zingy concoction, so irritatingly without recipe, let alone rhyme or reason and with only one constant: tomatoes. Tenacious, creeping, wild tomato vines are our inheritance from the previous owner of our house. That and the slightly concerning 'something', wrapped in black plastic, that I came across once, when digging in the garden.* Nope, tomatoes are just fine by me. Strangely, (think no rhyme, no reason here), these two escaped the pot:



I tried to come over all helpful and dug out a lovely French preserving jar. But Mr starts these things with a very clear gameplan in mind and apparently a preserving jar would be the very last thing he would want for containing homemade chutney.**



It seems this year's crop was greatly affected by the blistering heat of our summer and some truly crafty birdlife. There isn't quite as much chutney to go around as in previous years...



...and apparently I am on rations.




* I am able to confirm that the wrapped in black pastic 'something' is not a we're-so-rich-we-need-never-work-again sort of inheritance.

** Not that I have the slightest inkling about preserving anything. Yet.

PS. Grandad Myrtleandeunice, who initially introduced Mr Myrtleandeunice to the joys of this annual culinary creation, swears that this is the original recipe, and therefore a sound base for a startlingly good chutney experience. Mr Myrtleandeunice concurs, claiming "It sounds about right".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Innie and an Outie



Spur of the moment silly is my favourite kind. During one particularly giggly evening, our family was surmising that none of our tummy buttons looked even remotely related. Without further ado, Mr Myrtleandeunice emerged from his shed with empty yoghurt containers and mould-making paraphernalia. A couple of tickly tummies posed to make their mark.

It was late in the night when the plaster moulds were unveiled and the following morning when the kids ooh-ed and aah-ed over their creations. With bemusement I overheard my son ask his sister: "which one is mine?"

Note: I was going to describe how you could Make Your Own Plaster Tummy Button Moulds. Then I decided that was just plain weird.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I love:

My boy



His imagination



(Raspberry jam, rolled oats, dried cranberries on wholemeal).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Green



Based on the Singing Rainbow* we ALL now know that my rainbow of colours is wrong, wrong, wrong - so here goes green. Should you require further explanation of the wrong, wrong, wrongness, refer back to here, here and here and the drama, as it unfolded, will be revealed. After all that going to the end of the rainbow and back, you may well be wondering when to expect delivery of your pot of gold.

There is something so essential about green that a raucous, flirty red or a mellow, watery blue just doesn't do. I can only imagine that many fellow Victorians returning to communities devastated by recent bushfires must ache for the show of green. There is hope in green. Green is regeneration, resilience, the beginning of new life, a new season, a something.

Over Christmas and New Year last year, I made this wreath for our door. There was nearby festive fairylight involvement, but it was the simplicity of a scrap of fabric and a bundle of (at the time) green vines, that appealed. I took great pleasure arriving home to this bird's welcome. The inevitable deep breaths required to sail through the tail end of a year were a lot less panicked when standing at my front door. By the time a whole new year was in sight, this bird signalled the beginnings of summer holiday ice creams, days at the beach and a child's first day at school.

The bird is one of way too many I have made from the free pattern available from Spool Sewing. If you don't quite think you are up to the eight hands and tenacity required to create the gorgeous bird mobile, then you can always do what we did: drill a hole in the hall wall, stick in a tree branch and await a flock of birds.



* The Singing Rainbow is based on the song "I can sing a Rainbow", by Arthur (I've-Got-A-Lot-To-Answer-For) Hamilton. The colours of the rainbow as they appear in this song are: red, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange and blue.

The correct colours of the rainbow, as dictated by the Roy G Biv rule are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

The Roy G Biv rainbow makers are:
• Michelle at Green Kitchen
• Suse at Pea Soup
• Patrice at Making Peace
• Jo at The Cart Before the Horse

Amazing Invention: Number One



As far as this craft bizzo goes, I am more than happy to admit that I am winging it. Two years ago, I was Googling for information on how to cast on knitting stitches. It took me no less than one and a quarter hours to thread my newly acquired, purchased-on-a-whim sewing machine, though winding thread on to the bobbin was a relatively efficient twenty minutes. Naturally, all the above was performed badly and wrongly and through all my mistakes and the interference of a perfectionist gene, I have became a veritable professional - at getting ready to start.

The craft bug took its own sweet time to be diagnosed. Now nary a day goes by without making. Creating things is an essential part of my late-into-the-night. To join this bandwagon, all you need is to invest some time poking around on the web and blogs, making mistakes and being prepared to ask utterly ridiculous questions of lovely old ladies in wool shops.

Which brings me to Amazing Invention Number One. NOT that the lovely ladies at Sunspun are anything even CLOSE to old. They are just excellent. And extremely patient. It was when bemoaning my inability to verify the sizes of unmarked, hand-me-down knitting needles, that I was tactfully introduced to, (cue: drum roll) The Needlesizer. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to discover that simply by poking a needle into a hole, your whole world can become clear. There's even a magnifying bit for lovely old ladies or those just wanting to count stitches and check tension.

My follow up: "So, is there anything else I need to know?" revealed an entire display devoted to doohickeys and whatsits. Hold on to your hats. Future rivoting Amazing Invention unveilings to come.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Boyfriend (Only Way More Over His Head Than That) Hat



The 'Boyfriend Hat' sounds so fanciful, so free, and somehow so twenty year old, so that bit isn't working for me. Let's try 'Over a Certain Age, Mortgage Owner, Husband to Opinonated Lady, Father to Three Kids, Plus Dog, Plus Worm Farm Hat'. Any takers?

Mr MyrtleandEunice isn't arguing. It's the first bit of relatively non-scary craft his Mrs has created for him. All with the help of the free pattern donated by Stephanie Nicole.



I suspect Mr has a largish head. Instead of knitting 5.5" before decreasing, I kept going to 8.5". This caters for the requested 'turnover' but doesn't explain three whole inches extra. The wool is a Rowan Pure Wool Aran 100g skein, the needles 4.5mm circulars followed by the double pointed versions.



A good, therapeutic knit hit, that hat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pink (or) Singing Rainbows* (or) The Day My World Was Rocked

Red and yellow and
Pink and green
Purple and orange and blue
I can sing a rainbow
Sing a rainbow
Sing a rainbow too.

By Arthur Hamilton

Arthur is in big trouble. Suse over at Pea Soup has pointed out to me that Noni Hazelhurst has also done me oh-so-wrong singing that song. That just goes to show the perils of television - even PlaySchool. Not only has Noni committed the ultimate betrayal but an entire education as a graphic designer and FIFTEEN years masquerading as one such designery type, has failed to reveal the truth about rainbows. I am a picture of devastation.

THE TRUTH ABOUT RAINBOWS ACCORDING TO THE ROY G BIV RULE:
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

In response, I have decided to flog a dead horse, though I'll be corresponding with Arthur, Noni and Kevin (surely our Prime Minister can do something?). In the spirit of inclusion and for all those led astray (since Googling the song and difficulty locating real rainbow info, I realise there have to be millions), I shall continue to present to you the WRONG rainbow.

And so to pink. What self-respecting seven year old hosting an Under The Sea party and suffering Pink Syndrome, wouldn't deny their mother a headache or two creating a formed doll? You'll notice I delightedly opted out on legs and may have gone overboard on mermaid hair. But for a kid with very slow growing, curly tresses (we're talking two trips to the hairdresser to date, both times involving a completely unnoticeable trim), all those plait-able locks have great potential.



For an inexperienced formed doll maker, I found the kit and instructions I sourced from here a goodie, however, I now know that others exist. For those local to my neck of the woods you can also try here, here and here for kits and supplies.

* A Singing Rainbow is based on fictitious colour and combination. Scroll down for previous wrong rainbow postings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yellow



Without further ado - and only the second rainbow colour in, (here's the first), I'm breaking my one self-imposed parameter and embracing the No Rules Policy. Partly because there isn't a whole heap of yellow around here. But mostly, because quite some heart and soul went into this bit of rainbow.

Nurtured from seed at school, Child Number One trundled home with an uninspired-looking plantling at the end of last year. Surviving drought, abandonment over a two week holiday, an enthusiastic dog with ball and now horizontal rain, this plant is a stayer. It has the sort of resilience you'd want for your kids, even though the flashy, see-how-tall-I-am-today, homegrown alfalfa has since stolen the show.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Softie Love



There's nothing like the skip in the heart when something you make finds its way into some kids' hands and they love it. Which is why I faff about forever weighing up the odds on compatibility, commitment and attraction. This softie was whipped up on a whim (because I couldn't leave that Aunty Cookie fabric alone anymore) and presented itself at a two year olds birthday. It has a high squishability factor, given my almost-scientifically-proven theory that small persons dig toys that multipurpose as pillows.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nope. THIS is a Big Day Out.



It's been one huge week and a bit. Disappointingly, my life isn't usually quite this action-packed. Usually I'm knitting. In fact, I haven't been to a rock concert for five, er, ten, er, seventeen years. Mr and I are mighty proud of ourselves staying the distance over the entire Sound Relief concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. A charity event to aid survivors of the Victorian bushfires, we were two of 81,000 screaming, singing (we went to sleep with our ears ringing) fans - and we weren't even the oldest ones (or the only ones with picnic blankets). But let me just detail for you the unimaginable impressiveness of this achievement:

• 9.5 hours of rock concert
• 8.25 hours of standing and mostly boogie-ing
• 1.25 hours collapsed on aforementioned rubber-backed picnic rug
• 3 x no less than 7 minute, torrential downpours (less boogie-ing here)
• 8.75 hours of utter sodden-ness from thigh down (think a quick, fully-clothed dip in the nearest river)
• 8.75 hours of damp everywhere else
• 8.75 hours of Very Bad Hair Day

We had a ball. Loved almost every performance and I surprised myself silly moshing away to Wolfmother.

This is where things are at today.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Red

Michelle over at Green Kitchen is doing rainbows. Pea Soup is also joining in. An exercise in photography of each of the seven colours and with a No Rules Policy. That latter bit appeals, as does starting out with red. I can really do red - we'll worry about the yellow later. I'm thinking five of each colour but have that NRP up my sleeve. Already I'm noticing the way it's opening my sleep-deprived eyeballs (toddler waking issues around here) to the world, er, home around me. Wish it was a bit tidier.

Red typography is fetishist delight in these here parts:



If only they came in my size:



You can't get redder than an acquired-in-England post box:



If you are already sick of this bit of linen in the background of many of my shots, hold tight. Photography is a super speedy affair without the need for the cleaning off of breakfast evilness first.



I can confirm that these hooks are heavy duty stuff. I, Mistress of Smoke and Mirrors have removed the multitude of bags, hats, coats and cubby house-making paraphernalia and dumped them on the floor below. All in the name of red of course.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bad girl

Mr Myrtle&Eunice has, for the last two weeks, performed miraculous feats of simultaneous parenting, housekeeping (well, ok, let's be slightly real here), washing, meal preparation, and school taxiing with the minimum of angst and a commendable degree of humour. He has another two weeks before my current working-from-home commitments are over. But get this: today work granted me freedom and leaving the Mr to it, I SWANNED OFF TO THE STITCHES AND CRAFT SHOW. BY MYSELF. Footloose, fancy free AND with his blessing. What a guy. And, oh, how I'll pay.*

But I am bad-er than that. Quite an expensive day, if you factor in the forfeiture of the freelance work and then add the cost of a subscription to this:



plus the woolly goodness here:



and then the can't-live-without-'em-but-not-yet-sure-what-to-do-with-'em fabrics here:



throw in an inevitable button or six:



and then attend a workshop on the way out:



Bad. And so loving it.


* Payment Instalment One: He's at the movies, as I type.

Oh, and those delicious fabrics can be found here, here, and here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Learning to fly



I have a cuddly, giggly, daredevil, determined bundle in my house and this week she is learning to fly. Well, jump. But when you realise just how tricky it is to get both feet off the ground in a simultaneous sort of fashion and then to land without the intervention of a bottom, it might just as well be flying. I reckon she'll have it nailed by Saturday - at least from a level playing field. Launchings from great heights (yikes) and the safe landing of those, look like they might take quite some time longer.

Safe arrival



I was nervous that I had come over too graphic designer on the envelope. It was late at night, there was a long European address involved, the postcode was not located within spitting distance of the bottom right hand corner and the posties at either end had to be somewhat challenged (not to say irked). And this scarf had taken quite some time, love and angst in the making.

Available as a free Ravely download here the excellent Swiss Cheese Scarf does require a bit of fiddling. The small holes that happen either side of the really big (intentional) holes bothered me, although I know others don't seem to mind. About half way through I finally hit on my method of avoiding the holey-around-the-hole effect.

1. On the last two stitches before binding off for a hole, slip one, knit, pass slipped stitch over on to left needle and knit. This gives the 'anchor' point of the hole some extra strength.

2. Do the same after binding off 10 stitches (extra oomph for the other side).

3. When it comes to casting the hole bit back on, cast an extra stitch (so 11, not 10) then simply pass this stitch over the next stitch to be knit.

4. In the following row I did the slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over on to left needle and knit technique either side of each hole.

5. Phew.

Finally, I was chuffed to bits with the Eki Riva 100% Superbaby Alpaca 4ply I used on 3mm needles. The pattern allows for a really wiiiiiiiiiide scarf. Mine is a 74 stitch cast on version, and after blocking (er, excuse the unfortunate pic below), it was plenty wide enough and way long enough with a great slightly spiderwebby lacy look.




Just to confirm, EB, the true recipient, does not own whiskers. This tortured soul is the long-suffering, roped-in model.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Big Day Out



Blimey. Sensory overload. Hauling three small people along for the Moomba Festival ride could only be precisely that. Have I just become seriously old or has it always been SO NOISY YOU HAVE TO SHOUT TO HEAR YOURSELF THINK WHICH BY THE WAY IS TRICKY WHEN ATTEMPTING TO DISCREETLY DETERMINE THE NEED FOR YET ANOTHER POORLY-TIMED SMALL PERSON WEE STOP?

We managed to catch the tail end of the parade (requirement for fast walking as tail end marched into distance), found a relatively spacious vantage point for water-ski watching (spacious because this was where boats dropped skiers off upon completion of feats of jaw dropping bravery/skill) and enjoyed the dizzying heights of the ferris wheel (the kilometre-long queue a mere forty minute wait but joyously without toilet stop requirement).



A momentary time out meander into one of Melbourne's lovely arcades unveiled a shopette displaying Incredibly Small Things. Child Number Two nominated seven new items for his list of Things To Buy When I Grow Up.




I could kill a cup of tea.