Monday, May 31, 2010

The Day After the Weekend Before

I won’t lie and suggest there wasn’t an amount of stretching of the comfort zone boundaries in the lead up. It’s not every weekend I zip off to spend 48 hours with eight other women I have barely, or never met, or only somewhat bloggily know. It’s not every weekend I do this, only partly because the sole parenting Mr has collapsed on the floor, doing heavy paper bag breathing at the merest sniff of a suggestion.

It was a fabulous weekend with a whole lot of scrappy, random quilting action...

Beautiful, detailed, the more-you-look-the-more-you-see loveliness from Di:

I’ve-never-made-a-quilt-before-so-let’s-start-by-making-two-and-staying-up-until-the-birds-do-dawn-chorus-in-order-to-achieve-this, Maria. (Maria, oh interweb-phobic one, I apologise if I have just COMPLETELY FREAKED YOU OUT by typing your name twice in a blog post. Maria, Maria, Maria).

And mine:

Inspired by Gina’s scrappy quilt and a recent cushion experiment, I nabbed anything red/black/somewhere inbetween from the stash. Including Auntie Cookie, Pippijoe, Spin Spin, Ink & Spindle, Yardage Design, Kristen Doran, Ikea, a load of stuff from heaven knows where and a Myrtle&Eunice tea towel found lurking in the linen closet.

(Nearly single bed, sort of snuggle on the couch size).

There were the sweetest dolls from Ellen:

3 x Ric Rac elephant parts from me:

Some serious creating going on from a woman who really knows how to craft a weekend, Sooz:

And Nikki, who makes a mean lapel, as well as soup.

There was beautiful, structural, painstaking making from one talented lady, as well as a whole lot of knitty/reading/mooching action happening in front of a cosy fire.

Finally, that frosty looking (ibis?) bird-type personality at the top of the post, kept cawing (or whatever ibis-bird-types do). Certainly making louder demands than the incredibly spiky cactus. Always a sucker for a frosty ibis, a pair of woolly leg warmers were installed before my weekend was through.

I had a ball. Nothing like continuous crafting, wonderful food, belly-laugh-inducing company and a stay-up-too-late partner in crime to prompt a log-like slumber last night. Thanks for letting me come and play.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Creative Space: A Last Ditched Attempt at Clothing the Kid

The smallest has thus far waltzed through the majority of Autumn almost entirely naked. Certainly without sleeves. Whenever there are inevitable scenarios requiring clad arms and legs, it is necessary to factor in an additional half hour for ‘getting dressed’ negotiation. This is not because I am an always negotiating, walkover parent. This is because this child is as wilful as I. This is because this Houdini-kid could escape a fleece-lined straitjacket.

I have had enough experience as a parent of very smalls, to fathom that life runs smoother when you choose your battles. This battle ain’t worth it. So the toddler chooses what she wears and it’s usually all entirely ghastly and aimed at a heatwave and when (if) she finally declares herself chilly, I pull out the the mobile back-up wardrobe.

On Mondays, the small goes to child care, wearing clothing of her choice, with back up warmth stashed in the bag. Upon pick up, last Monday, I immediately noticed the kid was wearing sleeves. No legs, but sleeves at least. I congratulated the fill-in carer person on the sleeve victory and received a small lecture on control and who’s the one wearing the pants in the house anyway? (quite obviously, not the toddler).

The words of the lecturing carer wafted in one ear and quicksticks out the other – but may well have planted a small seed on the way through. The next day I peeked into an op shop looking for a fish tank. Ours has sprung a sneaky leak and any minute now there threatens another ghastly fish death scenario. The ghastly fish death scenario is increasingly probable, because I flatly refuse to buy anything other than secondhand for a fish who suddenly turned on his comrades and ate them for breakfast. Naturally, not an op shop fish tank to be found – not even a plausible punch bowl – but there was a soft, warm, mauve, size 16, ladies jumper. With sparkles.

It took longer to pull out the sewing machine, than to morph the (pre-felted) sparkly jumper into a toddler dress. There was none of that ironing of seams, no finishing of sleeve cuffs, no decorative bizzo – not until toddler wearing and proof of approval.

Two hours of continuous wear later, the kid was deemed won over and I took the dress back, to spend ten minutes finishing the seams and turning the original cuffs into pockets and talking myself out of accidentally removing all the sparkly stuff and remaining focused on the big warm and fuzzy toddler picture.

The kid loves it. She says it’s ‘BEWDIFUL’. She carries it around and snuggles it in bed. She never, ever, not ever, (not even when hell freezes over), wants to wear it again.

You might want to invest in an urn for continuous tea drinking sustenance on Thursdays. There are enough Creative Spaces to be found via Kirsty’s to keep you going all day and into the night...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sticks Are Smokin’...

...leaving a haze of powder blue knitwear. Three Boyfriends done and dusted over the weekend (that would be the hat variety, thank you for asking) and a bit before that, the completion of another Destroyed Cowl for the lovely Ms Tinnie.

I’m utterly sold on this whole cowl concept bizzo. After all that scarf production, I have belatedly realised that cowls are the no fuss, no bits hanging about or dangling into your tea, take on neck warmth. And with this pattern, it’s entirely possible to keep up with a televisual Friday Night Crime plot – at least until you get to the ‘destroyed’ bit where you drop and unravel a few stitches and even if it’s the second time you’ve done this, still has you connipting all over the place and entirely missing the WHODUNNIT.


PS. For anyone who was wondering, Angus has reported in.

PPS. The Destroyed Cowl pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry

Monday, May 24, 2010

Angus in Northcote, I Believe You Were Wanting a Hat?

Since the 19th March 2009, when I posted on the knitting of the Mr’s Boyfriend (Only Way More Over His Head Than That) Hat, Angus in Northcote has been leaving comments on this blog. Sometimes they pick me up on punctuation, grammatical errors; the use of ‘And’ and ‘But’ at the beginning of sentences. Often there is proffered left-field advice, sage words of wisdom or occasional lateral, ‘red herring’, chuckle-inducing commentary. More often than not, there is the continued request for a hat like the Mr’s in pale or duck-egg blue. Angus in Northcote, you have finally worn me down. Angus in Northcote, I have knit you your own Stephanie Nicole (free pattern) Boyfriend Hat three times this weekend.


Using a Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed, this version did not work. Too floppy too stretchy too something.* The middle kid, happening by at the time, said he would quite like to have it – but could I make it shrink? Why, yes, as long as you don’t mind a felted-to-within-an-inch-of-it’s-hatness hat, kid. Middle was very chuffed and yelled ‘THANKS FOR MY SATURDAY HAT, MUM!’ After questioning, I can clarify that the kid is too embarrassed to wear the hat to school but more than happy to wear it on Saturdays, providing there are no scheduled playdates and it is cold enough to see your breath.


‘Tinked’, (excellent term borrowed from Suse for reverse knitting, frogging, unravelling the thing), within a minute of completion. I had even knit an extra two inches to accommodate a ‘turnover’, cast off and THEN decided that a 100 stitch cast on in an (unlabelled stash) cotton was way too much even for my Mr’s large head.


Knit to the Mr’s specifications, which does not involve a turnover (so last season, apparently) and with an 80 stitch cast on (I was betting on stretch). My Mr thinks it’s fabulous. I’m only glad the specifications were not for skin colour beige, think it would look fabulous on a small child and completely give up. Angus in Northcote, this here is your hat. Try the damned thing on and we’ll take it from there.

* Those missing commas are entirely purposeful. But you will notice I did not begin a single sentence with ‘And’.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Steel Yourself...

...for unexpected news.

I, of the long and drawn out, attention deficient, one hit wonder* crafting, finished Thursday’s cushion beginning, TWO SEASONS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

Needless to suggest, it was necessary to have a cup of tea and a quiet, knitty test-sit, in order to recover.

There isn’t any sleight of hand photography, either. There is also a cushion ‘back’:

I’d envisaged summery-balmy-light-breeze-languishing, in my roadside find rocking chair but today is too glorious for holding back. Dappled sun, warmish but sorta crispy at the same time.

Autumn, you are just too many kinds of wonderful today.

* There is no guarantee there will ever be a second cushion.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Creative Space: Take One Roadside Find...

(Oh, how the Mr recoiled in horror at the appearance of this shabby-whimsy, outdoor* furniture find, but that’s the price you pay for working on Sunday AND requesting the smalls are kept amused far away from high pressure sculpting-type scenarios in the shed AND what do you expect me to do? Not spend the day belting out renditions of Supercalifragilisticespialidoceous while cruising the streets AND ignoring veritable treasure for the roadside taking?)

Take one weirdly-named, nudey cushion begging for cover...

Take one dollop of bits-in-strips Ric Rac keyring inspiration...

Take complete, anal colour/pattern/fabric selection boredom with my entirely anal when it comes to colour/pattern/fabric selection self...

And dare self to get with the spontaneity programme, cut up 4cm x vaguely 55cm strips of fabric and sew ’em together all random like – or as random as anal self allows.

There’s a whiff of a blue/orange colour scheme I admit – but only because not even the new anally spontaneous self could be bothered donning the thermal gear to find greater randomness from frigid studio.

Besides, I reckon I’m subconsciously crafting for warmer weather. This means I have a couple of seasons to source a zip and angst over the backing, but I can see it now: cushioned-in-summer-colour rocking chair, warm, breezy afternoons spent tackling another long and drawn out project. (Those circle-in-a-square grannies don’t appear to be making any conjoined appearance plans for this winter, either).

* I KNOW I am the biggest weather wimp. But use your outdoor imaginations - it’s frosty out there.

Go see the Hostess with the Mostess for this weeks creative space-style offerings...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Setting a Good(ish?) Example

Whatever time you are reading this, someone, somewhere in the world is eating breakfast. But it’s not me. Except after today, it probably always is, because now I have this recipe. This stuff is fabulous for lunch and afternoon tea and undoubtedly a midnight snack and everything inbetween – including that hour or so after a thrown-together dinner of scrambled eggs and toast, when you realise that one breakfast does not a dinner make, but two breakfasts do.

I know this, because I won a Bountifully giveaway and existed solely on Tracey’s homecrafted Almond and Cranberry Muesli for two days. So while I am a terrible breakfast at breakfast time person, soon I am going to be an excellent breakfast at every time person. Finally setting a good sort of Breakfast-is-the-Most-Important-Meal-of-the-Day example for the kids. Only getting things all a bit skewiff, as usual.

I also received a lovely cottony dishcloth. Except there’s never much to clean up after that scrape-the-bowl-clean muesli stuff.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Curse of the ‘Yeah, But...’

The weekend that was, was a rocky affair. And not just because the middle kid refused to sit down when the whole family went for a row, (in lots of circles), on the Yarra River at Studley Park on Sunday. In between that and the crafty Sew It Together-ing* on Saturday, there was much persuasion of the migration kind going on in my household.

On a positive note, it seems the Mr and I have made some healthy steps toward conflict resolution. Throw us in the same situation five years ago and things would have been a whole heck more stormy, feisty, rock-the-boat. As it was, there was a whole lot of ‘it’ll-be-wonderful’ (from the Mr) and a whole truck load of ‘Yeah, but...’ (from me).

The eldest of four, I was always going to be the one doing the ‘responsible’. Eldest-responsible was boring growing up, same as it is now. The Mr sees moving to the country and fresh air and space and workshops and the idyllic thing. I see changing schools and leaving a community and isolation and bush fires and expenses and second cars (and fresh air and space and workshops and studios and the idyllic thing) but actually, I'm just not really sure. I am aware that I often tread a fine line: doing the responsible versus forsaking the chutzpah.

A telling sign that my chutzpah is off on it’s own little world cruise, is that the camera did not come with me into the row boat. Which I regret. Sometimes you take a teensy risk and you get some fab pics of fun first-ever kid rows. Sometimes you take a much bigger risk and wonder WHAT THE HELL TOOK YOU SO LONG.


* I’m leaving the excellent Sew It Together reportage in the capable hands of others, except to admit that I probably managed a concerted thirty minutes crafting over the entire day. It was never that much about the craft, right? I did want to direct my hearty thanks to the SIT sponsors for those fabulous goodie bags and giveaways and to Sheridan for the supreme organisation and her own SHEER CHUTZPAH IN DREAMING THE WHOLE THING UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week End

If you zoom in on that pic you will see there are goosebumps. The kid looks freezing (blue-ish), sounds freezing (talks with the distinct chatter of teeth) and is freezing (a veritable ice block to the touch). Yet these are the most clothes she has worn throughout the entire week of sub zero (give or take a degree) and only for half an hour to celebrate the gloriousness of new shoes.

Straight back to tropical climate attire for a spot of ant patting (R.I.P. ant)...

...while I peel off seventeen layers to better photograph Mum’s new Porom beret, which will string Mothers Day out for a week by the time it is gifted. As lovely and snuggly and glorious as the Pear Tree Yarn is, I am not smiling but wincing against the chill. I am also way too chicken to block this one since the last attempt resulted in a Porom as large as the Starship Enterprise.

In a moment of panic I made a mad dash to Sunspun for wool for who knows what. An entire day for crafting at Sew It Together tomorrow and it suddenly dawned on me that I might actually need to DO something (but really?) at some point or other.

In the meantime, I am unnerved at the amount of solo parenting brownie points the Mr seems to be accumulating – and all in suspiciously good humour. He had reason to be in the Castlemaine area earlier in the week, although I am now doubtful as to whether that reason is work or migration related. I keep walking into the kitchen to make a nice soothing cup of tea and find the bench miraculously cleared and a sketch of a floorplan placed nonchalently to the left. I also caught him looking up markets in the local area. That would be the carrot to get the wife in the car, to happen by the house that has caught his eye, on the ‘way’ to the market fifty or so kilometres in the opposite direction.

Here’s to good weekends in every direction.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Creative Space: Cosy

On Monday, as predicted, there was undie trouble. The eldest girl-kid went to school in middle boy-kid jocks and the middle boy-kid wore his bathers. The week began with general disgruntlement from the two aforementioned and poorly hidden bemusement from moi. Meanwhile, the weather has plummeted to frigid sub zero-ness, (give or take a degree) and the undie supply has been a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants, day-to-day proposition. This is because I have ventured out to the clothesline (or anywhere) on a need-only basis. I appear to be hibernating. Certainly not laundering.

I did wander unnecessarily into the world once – in response to a spontaneous and pressing woolly blanket need. Four op/thrift/charity shops and 35 minutes later and I’m entirely ignoring the dirty-undie-etc pile and machine washing my finds to within an inch of their blanketness.

Utterly stage struck by Kate’s blanket dress, my original kid tunic plans morphed logically into a hot water bottle cover. This time of year, seventy per cent of of our house has a default setting for south of Antarctica. Hot water bottles ensure everyone keeps their extremities.

While I am thoroughly chuffed with the ‘cosy’ factor and beside myself with shock that I managed to pull this off during kid waking hours, (simultaneous with bead necklace threading, book reading complete with convincing character voices and finger knitting – but no laundry), there is a small design fault. I could do with a hands free version. Backpack style straps for easy portability.

Next up, cosy blanket undies.

You know where to go for that My Creative Space place.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ordinary Happy

The first time it happened was I don’t know how long ago – but I was hanging washing, on a crispy, autumn, Sunday afternoon, knowing that the bright sun was all show, no action. The washing would be as damp by sundown and damper still in the morning. One kid was asleep, one pottering in the sandpit, one not even the faintest twinkle in an eye. The Mr squinted against the slanting bright light, finally finding time for a Saturday newspaper. Somewhere the planets aligned and there was a bit of quiet and a bit of space and I thought, I am happy.

I was a bit caught out. Are you supposed to find happy in the mundane? Aren’t you supposed to win Tattslotto, or at a bare minimum, a world cruise, or become a reality TV show winner, or own a multi-bazillion dollar business? Newly arrived back in Melbourne, finding our feet, looking for work, small anklebiters, hiccups and setbacks and comedy-of-error days – an ordinary life no worse than most and certainly infinitely luckier than a kazillion others inhabiting this planet and, that day, pegging wet odd socks on the line: happy. Grateful.

Most of the time, I play catch up. Family stuff, friend stuff, household stuff, work stuff, stuff-stuff. There isn’t usually much leftover head space to contemplate where things are at, where I am at. I’ve had a lovely three days filled with a Stitches & Craft Show and putting faces to bloggy names, a Saturday evening soirée, a family trip to the Camberwell Market today, then over to Mum’s to celebrate a few generations of women. Away from usual routines, I found some think space. As well as ordinary, sneak-up-on-you happy. Covered in a layer of Monday morning stuff in a matter of minutes, (no one has any clean underwear for tomorrow), it’s a happy that isn’t twee or smug, although I imagine this is precisely how it sounds. The reason it isn’t, is because I am clangingly aware how the flap of a butterfly wing, or a tiny twist of fate, can turn someone’s world on its head.

This weekend I didn’t photograph places or events or people but I did take a photo of some ordinary, spent flowers rescued from a garden tidy, that make beautiful shadows on my wall at 4pm, the mossy seat furniture offering in our gnarled and magic apple tree – and lemons. Because when life gives you lemons, make lemon curd. Ordinary, everyone-lick-the-bowl, happy.