Friday, December 31, 2010

End



Is it just me, or is the end of a year always tinged with a smidgeon of melancholy? I always find it to be a funny old time. 2010 has proven itself to be a little on the tricky side for this Myrtleandeunice. There’s been a bit of standing in grown-up shoes to be done. There’s a waft or two of regret and sadness. Overwhelmingly, though, I am mindful that it has been a year blessed with great fortune: family, love, health.



I’ve been sitting indulgently at the computer, doing an inventory of the stuff I made this year. That’s one truckload of crafty therapy. I am delighted to reflect on quite some making of mischief, winging-it moments, mistakes and twenty bazillion learning curves.



Above all, there’s a tonne of heart and soul thrown in to all this lot. I look at each and every image and there’s an attached recollection surrounding a happening or a holiday or a celebration or an I-remember-where-I-was-stitching-that! All of this making represents little spring boards for memories of ordinary and not-so ordinary moments that have filled this year and make up another 365 days of a life lived.



I reckon I’m ready now. For a 2011 packed with inevitable ups and downs and roundabouts and loved ones and joys and hopes and tears and, well, living. Wishing the happiest of New Years to you, lovely peeps. May it be filled with all of your nicest dreams.



I’m off to play with my family and bask in the summer. I’ll see you on the flip side. Let’s see if we can’t get a little 2011 crafty mischief happening, eh?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Where Moby (and Grandma) (and Teamwork) Saves The Day



It was a scream with edge. Not one tinged with irritation or anger. A scream of the purest kind, crystal sharp and without end. A child’s scream that has two parents move from sleep to sprinting in less time than it takes to blink open a waking eye.

There is our boy child, outside on the back patio, toes curled, arms flailing, mouth expressing an all-consuming agony. Finger? Toe? There’s Stripe, the guinea pig. What’s he doing sitting on the outside sofa? Head? Look, there’s blood. In wide splatters. From where? WHERE IS THE BLOOD COMING FROM?

We have our boy in the kitchen and we see. No need for jammed fingers under a cold tap. The guinea pig and rabbit hutch is groin height for a seven year old clad in his undies.

In that next second the damage control is focused. But both parents are forgetting to breathe amongst the application of pressure to a wound, to the calling of an ambulance, to the calming, to the relocation of Stripe to his hutch, to the calling for Grandma back up. I only come unstuck when the Mr is outside inspecting the hutch area and begins barking orders to know where the dog is, in case something is missing.

The Mr and I are not breathing because neither of us have forgotten the horror of trying to hold a tiny finger on to a small, writhing hand. I cannot believe that I cannot stop the tunnelling of my vision. With a calm, quiet urgency I hand over the holding of the sterile cloth to the oldest and I am appalled at myself. I am horizontal for the few seconds required to save me from falling over an edge.

Through the flurry of activity, I can see that the Mr who is is now holding our boy with one arm, is valiantly fighting to grip the edge of his own precipice. One exchanged look and we have swapped roles. The ambulance arrives and there is pain relief and attempted inspections and Grandma is here and the kids are finding the things we need. The thing we need most is Moby. The middle holds his bear tight.

An hour later we finally know what the situation is. It’s one hell of a bruise. It’s a cut. BUT ALL THAT BLOOD? Because it’s vascular. Turns out things really, really, really bleed, down there.

The Mr arrives at the hospital and my eldest has packed me a random ball of woolly therapy and two knitting needles, because she is amazing. The middle demands a garment for Moby and since now, unbelievably, all we are doing is waiting for the kid to wee before we can go home, I cast on a strange little Moby cardigan.



As I type, the little man and his little man are thinking themselves mighty lucky and doing wonderfully. I’m lucky, I have a blog and I can write a cathartic post and then get back to the weirdy cardigan knittery. The Mr is thanking his lucky stars and is brainstorming an alternative hutch closure solution and will probably need one very good glass of red this evening. The girl kids are just feeling so very lucky that they are, well, girls.

.........................

Moby was made by Jess for my kid and was found under our Christmas tree. Jess is a star of the super kind. Moby is super l.o.v.e.d.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ho Ho Ho (and He He He)



I confess, I wasn’t feeling Christmassy. An accumulated decade of European Christmases has spoiled me with the smells of mulled wine and clementines and roasting chestnuts. My first white Christmas, my first-ever experience of snow, was spent with a gorgeous Dutch pal and I can still remember the sound of it: such a breathtaking quiet. An early morning still, splintered by squeals of pure, exhilarated, snowballed delight.

Yesterday, I was one of those first determined souls at a shopping centre purchasing Christmassy music and since then, Bing and Doris and Frank and the Myrtleandeunice’s have been serenading the long-suffering neighbours, singing about white Christmases in far off lands.

The Middle explained to the youngest, the story of the birth of Jesus, while all three kids selected fabrics for their Christmas stockings. The youngest was so inspired by the Middle’s story, she was prompted to use fabric pens to draw a crowd of people at the cinema.

???



By the time we’d belted out Good King Wenceslas, this Mum had decided she’d bitten off more than she could sew but hung in there through dodgy machine tension and three broken needles and considered putting a real sewing machine on her Christmas list. Then decided, actually, she really just wants to knit.

All three stockings were prompted and loosely based on Denyse Schmidt’s free pattern. They were easy peasy to throw together but with three barracking kids, I was keen to finish. The quality of workmanship is, frankly, appalling. At one point I was standing up and sewing in order to achieve simultaneous bias binding production. Yep, you read that correctly. Only once have I achieved a more impressive multi-tasking feat, back in the days of breastfeeding.



This morning I woke to this sort of scene.



Turns out the quilted stockings make a wonderful half alternative to a pair of slippers.

And don’t you just love it when you gift a pressie that is so, so right? Don’t you just love it when you receive one? It’s tricky to photograph, but it’s one of Kirst’s brilliant baubles. Mine contains a tiny screenprinting squeegee made from felt. The ink is red, there are printed ‘t’s. He he he.



I’m off to mull some wine, to wrap a few pressies, to sing with Bing, plot our part of a feast, go take a peek at some Christmas lights and grin at the countdowns and excitement. I’m going to inhale it all and love that a Christmas downunder means family and backyard cricket and summer evenings and barbecues and the sound of cicadas. Because that’s what I missed when I lived in wintry Europe.

To all you lovelies who pop by for a visit, to those of you who let me know what you think, who make me laugh (and sometimes weep), to the kindred spirits who so unexpectedly have become my friends – to all of you – I wish you a safe holiday season, filled with every kind of joy and fabulous.

xxx

Monday, December 20, 2010

A One-Legged Chicken, a Runaway Dog and an (Almost) Inhaled Earwig



This is my ode to one-legged chickens.



I started a Christmas Beetle but it didn’t quite fit the mood. Too...hmn...finicky...or something.



But then when I’d finished with the embroidered representation of the side view of a chook, I realised I’d been (clumsily) channelling the glorious work of Diem Chau, something I’d been clucking over a few weeks ago. I’m a bit uncomfy about this. Though I did really enjoy that sketchy, not-perfect, entirely impractical, break-the-rules, embroidered bizzo.

This is my ode to runaway dogs.



I always barrack for them on the quiet. As long as they remember to look before they cross the road and get home safely before dark and don’t do weird things like gatecrash someone’s house and then wee on the almost-dry washing hanging on their line*.



I have not stitched an ode to an (almost) inhaled earwig. I just thought I’d mention it because even though it happened a few nights ago, it’s still making (almost) all, at chez Myrtleandeunice, chuckle. The Mr, who is a big, strong, hearty sort of fellow, is asthmatic. He usually takes a preventative puff on his inhaler before bed. On the night in question, I was two rooms away. I heard the inhale, followed by a teeny, delicate whimper. A minute later, a pale, stricken Mr appeared, to debrief a throaty and traumatic encounter with a wiggly, who upon its projectiled escape, scuttled away to see another earwiggy day.

.........................

PS. Yes. I should be Christmas pressie crafting.

* A whole ’nother story

Friday, December 17, 2010

Breathing in Christmas



When I open my front door there’s a heady waft of exquisite which smells like Christmas and I will never mind that I’ll still be finding the odd pine needle in February. I have eaten a mince pie with the crumbliest of pastry. I have beamed at those glorious Grade 2’s reciting 20 minutes of perfect poetry, regaling a story of St Francis and the wolf. I have tackled Christmas shopping purchasings in one three hour stint (until I remember what I have forgotten). I have a mostly manageable list of handmade which will, because it always does and I know how to push a deadline, have me scrambling into the wee small hours of December 25th. Today is the last half day of school.

And... EXHALE.



I bet you didn’t know toilet rolls could be mildly festive?



The Middle and I have been tackling a ‘together’ project which involves cut up loo rolls and pegs and twenty gallons of PVA glue and is inspired by this from this tipster. We’ve stalled, through want of PVA supplies but we imagine this little number could go on forever – thanks to the Small’s exuberant approach to loo paper and donations in the name of craft from this lover of mischief. Everytime the Middle and I work on it, the conversation is peppered with exclamations from both of us: AWESOME!!!



This is the fourth year we have purchased an advent stick from one of the school Mums. Parcels of tissue containing crafted and found loveliness that celebrate the festival of Advent: earth, light, animals, people.



Here is this year’s advent treasure collection in progress...



And finally, because I was itching to try some of the smooth! non-tangly! gorgeously coloured! Cosmos embroidery cotton (found at Amitié) and because I was coming over so festive and because I really am going to push that handcrafted pressie deadline, here is the beginnings of my Christmas Beetle...



Have a wonderful weekend lovelies.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thumbs Up



This is my small doing her version of her best-ever thumbs up. It’s this version because she thinks she does this REALLY well, whereas an actual thumbs up is apparently tough for a three year old to do.

She is doing a thumbs up because Kylie sent her a surprise package and while the small’s mother was bizzy with her own amazed jaw hitting the floor, the kid had beamed and donned her bag and whizzed off and declared she was even going to sleep in it!

The small and her hambag (because that's what a three year old’s handbag is) are inseparable. It contains treasures of significance, including fairy sparkles, half a dead beetle donated by her brother and a lolly wrapper salvaged from her sister’s birthday ‘do’.



Look, here’s another concentrated (cos it’s really quite tricky) Thumbs Up attempt:



And here’s that infinitely easier version:



Kylie, you’re all kinds of wonderful.



THANK YOU.

(last photograph snapped in three seconds flat, while unsuspecting kid was in bath, washing own hair, with eyes clenched tight against the suds - HA!).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best Just Humour Me...



I saw this yesterday and it made me grin. Broadly. Then it prompted me to turn around and drive home to fetch my camera, putting me squarely, but-dammit-who-cares, behind schedule. Even though I now* know that there’s some dark and sordid (urban myth?) ‘thing’ associated with shoes dangling by tied-up shoelaces and telegraph wires and dodgy drug dealers and whatnot (has anyone told the cops?), I’m sorry but I’m still grinning. Widely.



Anyway, no straight-thinking dealer type is likely to lurk and perch on top of the bridge where this was spotted. Nup. I’m thinking schoolies. I’m thinking exam results. I’m thinking the exhilaration of exam result celebration and growing wings and a gloriously-long summer holiday stretching all the way over to the horizon before it’s time to FLY!



Course, I could be so wrong.

.........................

* only because you lot told me. I am a scarily innocent, naive type. AND HASN’T SOMEONE TOLD THE COPS?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Greetings From the Rock (Under Which I’ve Been Living)



These past two weeks I’ve been buried in a bog of deadlines and it’s so long since I posted, I’ve forgotten how. The few false-starts became so long-winded, there was a requirement for carbohydrate loading and energy drinks. ’Scuse me while I just cut to the chase, already, already...

1. It’s a special two year old’s birthday today and I love making these felty dinosaurs. This time, Mr Stegosaurus (up there) is made with button joints – because a dinosaur that can walk or lie on his back waving his legs in the air, is just that extra bit spesh for the extra spesh birthday kid who I am told Will Not Put Buttons in His Mouth.

2. My eldest kid had her birthday party on Saturday. Before we left for the rollerblading rink, I asked her to make at least a small effort to look spiffy. Of course the spiffy-ish layers came off within seconds of arrival, which only prompted my big inward grin. The kid skated gloriously around in her comfy, once-white-now-pinkish, hand-me-downs. Last time I art direct.



3. This is Sooty. Sooty is sitting on the palm of my hand. My hand is small. Sooty is a titch. He is also the nine year old’s birthday present – because this Mum decided that three years of consistent appearance at the top of the birthday/Christmas list was convincing enough, already, already.



4. This is Stripe. Apparently Sooty required a pal. But Stripe prefers long, skinny, water cracker box friends.



Hello Stripe.



5. This is the nine year old again with her birthday cushion request. Her and Ruby now have a (sort-of) matching pair. I am not telling you what words I embroidered on it, because there has been quite enough Sooky La-La confession for one blog year.



Oh and there’s a secret pocket on the reverse.



6. Look what Ruby and her Mum made the birthday kid.



Just...WOW.



7. I’ve been packing and posting all day today. Anyone who ordered a LAST CHANCE EVER tea towel should be receiving them in the next couple of days – unless there are oceans and stuff to fly over. To the two lovely people who ordered tea towels but who haven’t been contacted by me, I’m very sorry for my apparent rudeness. There are tea towels for you but I have no way of tracking you down. If you would still like to snazzily dry your dishes, best email me at myrtleandeunice@gmail.com



Now. What have you lovely lot been up to?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Confessions of a Sooky La-La



Five indicative, irrefutable examples of why this mama is a Sooky La-La:
(nb. Feel free to eye-roll. No one would hold it against you. Even as you read, I, too, am engaged in exuberant, three-sixty degree eye-rolls).

Example 1
I went to a music information night at the school a week ago. From the beginning of grade 3, all Steiner School students must learn a stringed instrument. There was an explanation that the violin, viola or cello becomes an extension of the body – of how the vibration is felt throughout the body, that the kids feel the music in their hearts. Cue: eye-welling, profuse blinking and double-time crochet in the pursuit of distraction and vestige of dignity. Eye roll.

Example 2
Last year, when I watched the Grade Sixers farewell their school, I, (mostly inwardly), SOBBED. To the outside world this came over as a series of small, weirdy hiccups. I didn’t even know any of the Grade Sixers. But I did remember the mix of sweet exhilaration with excited trepidation on my last day of primary school. And these kids stood so tall. When I looked at the Grade Six parents they understandably appeared a bit wobbly. Which only inspired largish, weirdy hiccups. I’m going to be a basket case.

Example 3
Sometimes when I tuck my kids in before I go to bed, I catch glimpses in the half-light, of faces breathtakingly open and innocent. Faces entirely given over to vivid dreams of what I guess to be prehistoric worlds, or fairies visiting from Hobart and holidaying in our apple tree, or pinkest-pink ballerina tutus. I bite the insides of my cheeks so that the Mr won’t notice the wobbly lower lip when I fall into bed.

Example 4
Today is the eldest kid’s ninth birthday and secretly it’s just a tiny bit my birthday and the teeniest bit my milestone too. Last night, as I kissed her cheek and whispered for the last time ever, ‘Goodnight eight year old’, it was with a mixture of delight and regret and pleasure and uncertainty and excitement over what this next year and this next bit of future will bring. (Happy birthday, sweetheart).

Example 5
Two tears plopped on to the space bar of my keyboard during the writing of this post.

BIGGEST eye roll.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Um. Which Way Is up? (Oh, And Last Chance EVER EVER EVER EVER For Tea Towels)

As a measure of how much life is Fly By the Seat of Pants, I am counting down the days to the end of next Saturday. After next Saturday everything slows down to manageable. I’m typing that with a wry sort-of-smile (barely concealed panic), cos I haven’t considered Christmas.

Breeeeeeeathe...

Between all the work and commitments bizzo, there are moments of snatched sanity. I have become one determined crochet-while-walking person. Especially after the middle kid went to Joey Scouts and the visiting policeman told them all about the evils of using mobile phones while driving – even at traffic lights. After that, the Middle asked if crocheting half a row at the longest ever traffic light intersection in Melbourne, wasn’t just as bad as chatting on a mobile phone? I stand oh, so berated. No more kids on green light watch, (sob). Passenger seat transit craft only, (double sob).

Which is how I travelled to my sister’s to celebrate four family birthdays last Sunday, stabbing fingers with a needle whenever the Mr drove over a speed bump, while making a Mouse-Which-Let’s-Face-It-Looks-Like-A-Mole.



When we arrived at our friends’ house for dinner that night, Chilli the Cat, their newest family member, seemed generally unperturbed by her Mouse/Mole/(Pig With Whiskers?) Welcome Home! gift, being somewhat more distracted by the showered adoration coming from my cat-deprived anklebiters.



Last Saturday’s Daylesford Makers Market was a lovely one – thanks to pop-in visits by bloggy favourites and my star Mum coming along for the ride. I have been wiped clean of tea towels and since then have received five emails requesting purchasings. Partly because I don’t need much excuse to dive into some therapeutic screenprinting, I will be producing a small and VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY last run of ‘T is for Towel’ and ‘Wash The Dishes’ next Friday. If you know someone who might like to spend their time drying dishes while guessing the 48 images that start with ‘T’...



or are a dab hand at simultaneous dish drying and handstands...



...then best email or comment and let me know. The tea towels are 100% linen, cost $15 plus $4 postage (I’ll do you a fab deal on posting multiples) and will be packaged and sent out on Monday December 13th. And that, as they say, is that.



This attention deficient crafter is moving away from the kitchen sink.

PS. Here’s to a whole lot of breeeeeeeathe... this weekend!