Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two Revelations

I had a big Moment of Clarity this week. One of those who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are-kidding, (certainly not yourself), get-a-grip-on-reality revelations.

PFFFFT! Just like that, I am breathing easier. Just like that, I am present in the conversation with the middle kid, over what it really means to be poikilothermic (look it up, I had to). I’ve also rescued overdue school permission forms from bottoms of bags, called siblings about Dad’s birthday, hung out with my Granny, washed the fairy costume. I even, almost, had a bright idea while in the think tank (shower), for the first time in forever, although that was interrupted by a potty training someone for reasons best not described.

There is no beating about the bush: I am a WIMP, I am a WUSS. I have backed out on a commitment. As I sidle away, the relief is palpable – and so is the word PANSY stamped across my forehead. I, mover of heaven and earth to achieve the deadline, have gone SOFT.

So there’s that, and there’s also the moment a few weeks ago, when the smallest kidlet had a first ‘practise’ at the childcare centre. As I walked away, I was hit with another revelation: Holy heck! I am accountable – to myself!

Even though the Mr and I juggle an irritatingly unpredictable work/parenting schedule, handing my youngest, my last baby, over to others for care, I finally, really and truly, ‘got’ my separateness from my kids. Does that come within spitting distance of any sort of sense? With space to see from the sidelines, momentarily unembroiled in the day to day juggle, I understood that as well as being everything for my family, I also have my own shoes to stand in. Really stand in. Not just token, lip-service, going through the motions standing in. I want to be walking into that room of mirrors, proud and as tall as 153cm allows, while I stand in my shoes: mum, wife, individual.

Slow on the uptake, I still view my professional capacities, the same as I did before kids. I still secretly think that I can pull it all out of the bag. I still privately reckon that determination and tenacity and making your luck and four in the morning brainwaves will push me over the line.

They probably will, but the price is a hell of a lot higher these days. All nighters in your mid twenties are a whole ’nother kettle of fish when you’re nearly in your forties. That’s the least of it. There are the other curve balls that pass by a distracted me. Clocking that a kid needs help with reading and another more sleep and a bigger hug at bedtime and if the fairy dress doesn’t get washed and ready for morning then a small world will fall apart, especially since it was promised for TODAY. That it’s much nicer to crawl into bed at the same time as the Mr, muse over the days events, rather than detect the faint whiff of too-late-to-bed-again disapproval in his turned away. That my Granny needs her family. That I need my pals. That I’m not the same as fifteen years ago and currently off on some kid-rearing sabbatical. That I’m a work in progress.

After all that previous exhilaration at the notion of a big challenge, I am no longer part of the Melbourne Stitches and Craft Show. Except for that part where I am there with bells on, cheering wildly for everyone else.

Meanwhile, this weekend, my eye drifts often to this screen. Secret swap stuff. Waiting for a Monday opportunity. I’m beside-myself-DESPERATE to get printing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Creative Space

Right off the bat, the creative space is a whole big lot of Kate’s fault, because she gorgeously sent me two servings of Noro Silk Garden. With nary a backward glance at the three quarters finished scarf or the two thirds finished scarf (even when this is such a delicious knit), I'm flirting about on Ravelry, purchasing further Noro reinforcement and casting on number three...

What I’m doing, is scarfing around the issue. I love neck knitwear but I don’t do torso well. Long ago, my brothers would exclaim at the smallness of my feet. Apparently, this was explained by the lack of sunlight my toes received due to the shadow cast by my well endowed-ness. Gotta love ’em. The brothers I mean. Therein lies the curse of this curvy, vertically-challenged knitter. So many other non-yarn things just look so much more flattering.

So my Noro scarf, cobbled together after cruising around Ravelry is an interchanging two ball of yarn, two row, 29 stitch, single rib with a purlwise slipped stitch at the beginning and end of each second row. Four balls in total. Perfect to haul along to a grade one school info night, (nothing like a Steiner school for getting away with the crafty), not drop a stitch and still take in which day fruit chopping duties fall.

Not that this isn’t an entirely unhair-raising experience. I didn’t know what I was getting into with Noro. I thought I had purchased relatively sedate colourways, as close as possible to those from Kate. Pah! The randomness of the colour combinations elicit frequent screeches of horror. Followed by bemusement from this usually uber-anal colour chooser-er.

In other rivoting news, the rowing is going well. I hate it slightly less. Nine kilometres of staring at the same spot on the gym wall, slowly turning the shade of the ripest tomato last night. Nine kilometres of what I only now, at time of typing, realise is the sporty equivalent of the old schoolgirl adage: I must, I must, I must increase my bust.

Pop over to see the embroidering, post ‘dusk shoot’ Kirsty for more Creative ‘Spacers’...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Skip in Your Step, Smile on Your Dial

It is no secret that I live under a rock. It is, therefore, extremely unlikely that you will ever, not ever, come across any finger on any pulse anything, should you happen by here.

This post is for one person. The one person who lives under a rock, inside a cave, perched atop a pyramid-shaped island close to Bermuda, awaiting a half moon for a sporadic-at-best dial-up connection. To the one person who has never, ever, not ever, seen anything to do with The Fun Theory, this is for you. Put a skip in your step. Make your heart sing.

And for you seasoned lot with the skippy feet and soprano heart rates, put another smile on your dial.

More The Fun Theory right here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Weekend Wrap

Is there a protocol regarding the late summer consumption of figs? If there is and it involves anything to do with moderation, I’m in a spot of bother.

It’s been a hot, late summer, water play in the Gardens, friend catch-up, surely-the-decent-thing-would-be-to-eat-ice-cream-with-those-figs, sort of weekend. Somewhere in there, we squeezed a visit to the Sustainable Living Festival. Lots to be inspired by. ’Course it was all the old, discarded cigarette lighters collected from the banks of the Yarra River that caught my attention most.

Just goes to show you can find the beauty in anything if you colour code enough.

There was all-you-can-carry chip packet craft:

Finger on the Brangelina-pulse recycled magazine bowls:

The general doing-the-kid-thing (usually in three different directions):

Inadvertent face paint napping (literally) by the Too Many Fish To Fry Kid (rest is for the weak):

All up, it was a pretty great weekend.

Up to half an hour ago. Too much out in the sun, too many happenings, too little sleep: everything ending in the tired and fractious. Three grumpy kids in bed. Two grumpy parents – although one has completely forgotten everything that ever happened this weekend (hopefully including the figs he didn’t eat) because he’s busy watching the demise of the Doctor. I wouldn’t say no to a tardis going spare. A half hour time travel here and there could sometimes come in mighty handy...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Creative Space: Show and Not Telling

“A grapefruit is a lemon that had a chance and took advantage of it.”
Oscar Wilde

There are five swap partners who, in the first week of March, will NOT be receiving a tea towel emblazoned with the above quote. Partly, because none of them live with citrus-flavoured kitchen walls or co-ordinates. Mostly, because every time I read it, I do a snort-out-chortle-chuckle thing and this rings alarm bells: my instinct seems to be off AWOL, having it’s own little Hawaiian shirt, pina colada-style holiday.

So, I’ve been working on something altogether different: something possibly, sort of, maybe, kid-interesting, but with a dash of mild intrigue to entertain the older-than-kids – at least insofar as it is possible to be mildly intrigued when dish drying is involved. Oh, and along the way, I’ve stumbled upon one or two visual gags which made me grin, (because I do like a bit o’ wit), which made up for missing out on further snort-out-chortle-chuckling when Mr Wilde was sadly shelved.

This is what I’m tinkering with...

...only less blurrily.

There are not five, but fifty linen tea towel blanks in waiting, because once in every second blue moon, I am startlingly intelligent:

1. The Screenprinting Gods may not deign to shine.
2. Regardless of divine intervention there will be the disaster involving ink.
3. Toasty brown burning of linen will happen to varying degrees during heat setting.
4. I live in hope that a couple make it to the spare pressie box.
5. Fifty attempts is the number it takes me to become so sick of the sight of ’em (just like these). After that, I can clean my screen and make way for other matters of urgency – just as soon as ‘His Nibs’ (the instinct) returns from Hawaii, with a bag full of dirty laundry and a cocktail umbrella stuck jauntily behind the ear.

Pop over to Kirsty’s for lots more ‘creative space’ telling AND showing...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When The Small Doormat Becomes a Handbag

I KNEW I was taking things too far, but it made me grin and I didn’t want to stop, so that officially makes this Irony Craft, which means I get to hold on to the vestige of dignity.

Hang on! Who am I kidding? Any dignity vestige or remaining street cred scrap, fled over the horizon the moment I smuggled the crochet hook in to the chic bar. In my defence, the pals were typically late. And I’m just not talented at the ‘waiting gaze’ (indifferent but sultry but offhand but intelligent stare into middle distance).

’Course the experimental, big string, knitting-without-looking, can easily revert to doormat – or better yet, to doing what string does best (tying stuff). I have pondered popping along to some dance club for a boogie* and throwing my knitted number into the middle of one of those girls-dancing-in-a-circle-phenomenon things – just to see if it holds it’s own in Bagworld. There are some tiny holes drilled into the handles/knitting needles to avoid dropped stitchery and the points are sanded right back to avoid eye gougery. So, you know, it’s somewhat feasible.

Alternatively, there is the low-key irony option: the Knitted Knitting Bag.

* An event that has not occurred since back when people said ‘boogie’.

PS. It weighs a tonne.

PPS. It also, inexplicably, smells like cow poo. Albeit in a pleasant, ‘don’t you love the smell of the country?’ fashion.

PPPS. For this reason, I am yet to tackle irony outings involving enclosed space.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How To Knit-Without-Looking

Take one ball of giant-ply linen string, knitting needles with muscle and a promise to clean the oven. Experimental knitting of what looks to be a small doormat seems a worthy source of oven-cleaning procrastination.

Big knitting is the craft equivalent of large print books. Fingers can easily ‘read’ string without eyeball intervention – I can even manage a simultaneous, more than reasonable impression of puzzles-with-kid or TV-plotline-following. The future is clear: with any aged decline in eyesight, I shall cut a fine, bespectacled figure, gadding about in knitted-without-looking, big string fashion.

Sadly, string experimentary hasn’t made any oven issues go away. Ten days ago, someone (me), stashed leftover dinner for ongoing toasty warmth should ‘seconds’ be required. They weren’t – but removal from oven slipped someone’s (my) mind. The weather promptly came over hot, humid and distinctly not for the oven-baked: salads and barbecues only. Every now and then (and weirdly at various locations within the house), I would catch a whiff of something strangely sweet and faintly unnerving. The whole while, the contents of the oven were quietly festering, moistly covering their dark den in the finest film of pungent-est, palest green, fur-growth-stuff. Someone (me), will be needing breathing apparatus. Someone (me) thinks moving house a thoroughly viable option.

PS. After much eco-friendly but heavy-duty oven cleaning research I am utterly confused. To ammonia-fumigate-closed-oven or not to ammonia-fumigate-closed-oven: that is the question. It all seems noxious and toxic and awful to me – even though the wee-like whiff does have a better than ten day old (in moist weather) Morrocan Chicken attraction. Any top tips, wise and knowledgeable readers?

PPS. Valentine’s Day is not happening chez Myrtleandeunice – for obvious reasons. None of that usual baking of sweet, heart treats. Because I love them all, so very much.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Creative Space: TV (Only Not) Craft

Is knitting-without-looking some sort of talent reserved for the genetically privileged? Just asking, cos while I have ‘watched’ whole seasons of Spooks and Grand Designs and even an occasional DVD, I can’t recall a single plotline. I’m too busy concentrating on the knittery thing. There is one obvious advantage: I can waft through an entire non-ratings season filled with televisual repetition and everything’s shiny new to me.

Last August, the Swiss Cheese Scarf, above, measured 119 centimetres. Six months later it measures 120. While it promises everything I could wish for in a scarf: soft, drapey, mildly interesting, (although gaping holes aren’t generally the prerequisite), the endless garter stitch has become challengingly unchallenging. I can’t distract myself with a television something, because sooner or later, stitches do large and impressive dive bombs off needles. In the meanwhile, Anna has been knitting up a lace scarf beauty and I haven’t forgotten the shawl glory produced by Sooz and Suse – though I suspect I would wear ‘shawl’ as unfortunately as I do ‘beret’.

Craft floozy that I am, Swiss Cheese Scarf has been thrust to the side and I have succumbed to lacy temptation. Time isn’t exactly going spare at the moment, but a few rows during an occasional late night news broadcast, (too busy pattern-learning, so no inkling of world events since Sunday) and things are starting to speed along...

By the end of Friday Night Crime, I reckon the Lace Ribbon Scarf could be half finished. Just don’t ask me whodunnit.

Freebie Lace Ribbon Scarf pattern available here, Swiss Cheese Scarf available here (my pattern modifications to avoid tiny holes either side of meant-to-be-there holes here).

Hop on over to Kirsty’s and check in on today’s Creative Spacers...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The ‘Zone’

I fell off the wagon. My name is Tania and today I ran for fifteen minutes.

Don’t tell the Mr.

The new-ish pair of trainers was the final straw. I’ve spent the last ten years being a Sooky La La – grumpily, doubtfully looking around for an alternative exercise high. Nothing beats running. Just ask this lady and this lady. They talk about that place you go once you find your rhythm: the zoning in to the thud of your stride, the beat of your drum; the zoning out – letting your mind run empty, the ideas come.

I’m three years overdue for the prescribed knee replacement and staying in old lady denial as long as possible. High impact, jarring exercise has been delegated to the distant days of youth (someone find me a violin).

Some years back, I found an outdoor pool, lap-swimming almost-replacement, but had serious issues pulling off the chlorine-green hair look. Cycling is always too hunched over and strangely claustrophobic; walking or cross-trainers or steppers are all low impact ‘goodness’ but, to me, high on yawningly boring. Still, when it comes to going to the gym, rowing is the absolute PITS. It takes the big, fat, cake. I hate rowing.

Rowing may be the answer to my prayers. The challenge is to love it. Two weeks ago I could flail about for five minutes before my forearms exploded. Today I lasted twenty minutes. I caught the whiff of a ‘zone’.

’Course, within a swig of a water bottle, I was on the treadmill chasing down the real thing. I’m not even remotely within spitting distance fit of what I used to be but, (weirdly), running is like riding a bike. Same easy stride, same easy rhythm: fifteen minutes of heaven.

My knee is killing me. Don’t tell the Mr.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


A throat that is tight, a voice with an edge of shrill not usually there. The same as a year ago, watching the sky, feeling its hot, sticky weight, wary of something to come. Days glued to a radio, volume low so kids hear no detail. Nights glued to a radio, half sleep and warnings in my ear. Unable to watch television, sickened by the sensational, the insensitive, the cut to the sports report. Hear tales of luck, hope, devastation, despair – the horror of the roar of the fireball. Listen to the quiet now, wonder how it must be to survive that Saturday, to mark this day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

All Kinds of Evil

A confession.

Mwah ha ha h... Sorry. Straight face.

I have been evil. It was so good. Whichever clever lady we were listening to, the day ABC Radio were chatting long haul car journeying with kids, I’m high fiving in her general direction.

Instead of the large package of suggested chocolate frogs, we started our journey with the presentation of a bag of confectionary snakes. It was explained to the anklebiters that these were ALL – every single wriggly – FOR THEM (cue: widening eyes). To scoff in haste or at leisure, upon arrival home (cue: faintly worried check confirming Mum and Dad had entirely misplaced faculties). The catch? Every time anyone whinged, bickered or even shot the Evil Eye, a snake flew out the window. Mwah ha haa...ahem.

It worked a treat. Mostly because the therapeutic value to be had in snake-out-window tossing is empowering beyond measure. It means Mum can calmly crochet without so much as uttering a nagging word, while kids, aghast over snake cruelty, pull into rank and talk nicely to each other. A couple of times there were yells of protest. Another snake grew wings.

Upon arrival home, Mum and Dad still looked like they had been on holidays and each kid claimed their winnings. A measly one and a third snakes each. They ate them slowly. Discussed how next time, they would be SO good they would have the entire packet. Grin.

PS. I realise there are all kinds of evil at work here. For instance, are confectionary snakes biodegradable? Questionable. Is it unsafe to lob things from a moving car? Unquestionable (we were very careful). The solution I am working on here is sleight of hand. The Mr ate every snake the kids thought he threw out the window.

PPS. There is another option – another clever lady who rang up ABC Radio with her suggestion. As I remember things, she paid each of her three children ‘holiday’ money every half hour they behaved in the car. One child always went to sleep and to him she paid double. When the other kids complained that he wasn’t even trying because he was asleep she told them that if they nodded off they would get double too. Now she goes on holiday with one sleeping child in the back of the car and two pretending. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of evil to achieve a whole car load of good.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Creative Space: Patchy Warm(er)

Just in case anyone thought I had abandoned the granny square, I haven’t. It remains the staple PASSENGER SEAT car craft (nothing dashed off at red traffic lights) and from everyone’s perspective, a win-win. Much to the relief of all, the irritating back seat driving tendencies take, well, a back seat when I’m lost in trebles.

When last I bloggily checked in with my circle-in-a-square blanket, this was the state of play:

Three-ish months on, this is where things are at now:

Still a somewhat draughty blanket and with barely a loose end woven in (ugh), I’m 142 squares down with 56 squares yet to happen. I confess I’m experiencing the beginnings of ‘antsy’. I can crochet these squarelets blindfolded with both hands tied behind my back. I may have an impatient eye on that final push to the finish line (oh, how breezily I waft over all that end-weaving bizzo).

Not that I have a clue quite how to manage that finish line bit once I’m there. I don’t think I want a ridge where the squares join (do I want a ridge where the squares join?) and if I don’t, is my half lorry load of cream yarn enough (knew I should have stockpiled the entire lorry), to achieve some alternative fancy pants solution? All fancy pants solutions heartily welcomed...

Pop on over to Kirsty’s and see what the rest of the crafty blogosphere is up to. Then, if you’re after some highly commutable car craft, check out Tam’s Circle-in-a-Square pattern here.