Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Belly Laughs (and a Perhaps-Not-While-You’re-Eating-Breakfast? Warning)

Nope. Not yoghurt, not ice cream, not soap, not moss, not dog shampoo, not a medical cure, not mousse, not slime, not an, er, bicycle. And definitely NOT mascarpone. OR ricotta. None of those guesses from the Betcha Couldn’t Guess! competition were correct guesses.

Try belly buttons.

I imagine you’ve all just paid a spontaneous visit to Wrong Town.

My heartiest of hearty apologies, (I did try to warn you).

If you have never cast a mould of your belly button, it’s all extremely easy, except for the bit where you have to keep still. This is because you are GUARANTEED to dissolve into a fit of giggles. Well, the kids and I did – the Mr is only ever efficient at this sort of thing. Each of the ‘artworks’ is as individual and identifiable as the person it belongs to. Not only can you tell how cold our house is, (goosebumps!), you can even (sadly) see the difference in skin texture associated with a belly that has stretched to grow three babies.

The whole exercise was without any real reason and entirely for the fun of it. Although a couple of years ago, when the Mr was making moulds for work, he used the leftover ingredients for the Middle and Eldest to cast their belly buttons. It seemed only fair that the Small have her own plaster cast. Of course a collection of five is even better than three...

And we do seem to have a penchant for a random collection.

And they do fit right in with the eyeballs.

There was one unfortunate and heartbreakingly difficult situation, which involved the much-loved, honorary member of the family...

Psssst! Jess! WHERE is Colin’s belly button???


PS. If you would like to know more about this casting and moulding process the how-to is HERE. (It is precisely the same process as that used for casting the hands of babies, and the same stuff you’d use for pregnant belly bumps – and yes, of course we’ve done all those too)...

PPS. Susie, you were the first guesser to be mostly on guessing track. A Something Nice shall be postally heading in your direction. A consolation prize goes to Gemma for the most laterally thunk out, imaginative and generally unlikely scenario.

PPPS. I hereby promise to abstain from the ‘weird’ and knit nice things for the rest of the week.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Betcha Couldn’t Guess!

Some overdue mischief chez Myrtleandeunice, smuggled in to a bizzy week... Can you guess? I’ll send SOMETHING NICE AND INFINITELY WORTH YOUR WHILE, to the first correct guess (or, alternatively, most creative, laterally-thunk-out guess)...

(Heh heh heh).

Creative Spaces of the more, er, likely kind, right here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

(Best Keep This Under Yer Hat)

I’ve begun work on disguises for our next family yarnbombing outing.* Everyone knows, the best guerilla-knitter types require covert under-coverness. Sadly, discreet camouflagery is not my natural forté. Last time I crafty bombed, 140 spectators watched a ladder fall on my head.

First off the needles, is the New Blue ‘Do’ for the eldest. The eyebrow-raised, eye-rolling you see above, is purely a defensive reaction. This is because she and her siblings have been led to believe that I am crafting them costumes for Crazy Hair Day. This has prompted a great sense of unease and general bewilderment.

Crazy Hair Day is (something like) ten months away. The accepted expectation in the Myrtleandeunice household, is that Crazy Hair Day preparation is limited to thirty minutes prior to the school bell. This allocated thirty minutes involves exploding hair dryers, plonking of bird’s nests on heads and frenzied stabbing-in of hair pins at traffic lights.

While I had envisaged the five of us clad in co-ordinated, bobbed hair-do, yarnbombing disguise, there has been something of an uprising. The Middle has flatly refused to wear girl’s hair even if this is a wild and Crazy Hair Day thing to do. He wants crazy BOY hair. Since he requests the same punk, mohican get-up every Crazy Hair Day, (which is why hair dryers explode), it is unsurprising that he has insisted on this.

The Small is also unimpressed by the New Blue Do because it is not mermaidy enough. However, she agreed to try it on ‘to see’ – or presumably, so that I could more accurately envisage how impressive long locks, down to her knees, in vibrant purple, would be.

The Mr has been sneaking sideways Glances of Suspicion, wondering what I’m up to, because I had asked him what he would like to wear for Crazy Hair Day. This would make him the only participating Crazy Hair Day parent. I explained my need for a yarny project to prevent a spontaneous loss of sanity and the consequent need for extended recuperative ALONE time, AWAY from home. He promptly picked out a crazy facial hair style.

As for me, well, I’m not so sure anymore. I’m not sure I want to look that weird. I’m thinking I should consider the practicalities. A motorcycle hemet could be a perfectly dignified disguise(?) - with bonus, built-in protection against falling ladders...


* Family Yarnbombing Outings usually consist of a three minute holding of the ladder for Mum, before sneaking off and playing on the swings, eating all the snacks, losing the dog and then the finale chorus, (conducted by the Mr), of ‘AREN’T YOU FINISHED YET?’.

New Blue Do, on Ravelry, here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Week and Thinking ‘Yes’

Despite appearances, I have not spent the last week with my nose in a book, whipping up a pair of incredibly-hard-to-photograph armwarmers. The actuality, is that I have completed the last bit of a pair of armwarmers in fits and starts – sometimes while walking and without consulting a pattern enough. From the start, I have planned to hand-gesture emphatically while wearing them. No one shall notice mistakes for the blur.

A recommendation from a lady well qualified to know such stuff, the latest read is a veritable joy and is indulged nightly, while waiting for sleep. Covered in beautiful Orla Kiely, (I can’t help but judge such things), last night was not the first, when I wafted off wearing a small smile.

Things continue to be busy and not for the first time, I realise how important these snippets of my time and my space are. A row there, a page here and for a little while it’s ok that the work/life balance is a bit nutty.

Something else that has been glaringly obvious this week, are the pros and cons of the self-employed, work-from-home scenario. The two eldest are off at school but the Small is mostly always at home. I’m yet to perfect the art of negotiating deadlines with a client one minute, then seamlessly morphing into earthmother, snack-preparing, reading-to-the-four-year-old, the very next (and then back again). It’s hard to plan work efficiently and then ‘get’ that being the sort of Mum my kids need, is often not about anything efficient.

Yesterday, I read this post. Mrs Smith has the most excellent timing. Lately, with my head caught up in To Do lists and Who Does What When schedules, I have been forgetting to say yes. Even though instinctively I know I need to do just that, I’ve been thinking a lot of no.

Grown up and forty, I still write reminders on my hand (sigh)...

I glanced at said hand, when the Small asked me to stop cleaning and come outside and watch the diggers doing roadwork. While we were out there, we found some wild bluebells in our garden and I said Of course we can pick them for the kitchen table And since the presence of bluebells...

...indicates the presence of magical creatures, of course I would love to help hunt for a bog baby (or snail) or two...

Even in those few minutes, such a lot of good stuff came from thinking yes.

This morning, as another weekend dawns, there is a new YES! scrawled on my hand.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One of THOSE Weekends

You know the ones? The kind with the underlying vibe of scratchy? The flare ups of irritation, the descents into grump? With the possible exception of the dog, (who needs a fur-cut, so reading any doggy expression is difficult), we have all been a bunch of BLAH. Work stuff, out-of-the-zone parenting, siblings with one weekend objective: W.A.R.

Sunday afternoon and enough was enough. Everyone skulked into the car and sulked all the way to the beach.

Time to turn things on their head.

Thank ye Weather Gods for wind and sun and cool around the edges. Conditions: perfect – for the blowing away of cobwebs and rowdy, crazed, BREATHING OUT.

The two war veterans wrestled for a good, solid, twenty minutes...

giggling, yelling, roaring,

...right up to the nineteen and a half minute mark and there was a duet of inevitable tears and conniptions. (Nineteen and a half minutes of GOLD).

The Small raced off to find her inner runner, all knobbly knees and back to front t-shirt.

The Mr and I took turns with ball hurling for Esme the Dog, (who not only needs a fur-cut but appears to be developing the art of beach camouflage).

The war-weary Middle took to dolphin-watching over the bay, (cos you just never know your luck).

I took the eldest flying.

A thrillseeker activity in itself: lying on ones back, kid with legs outstretched, (mostly) balanced on ones feet, camera-yikes!-aimed...

After a while, I tried for a spot of literary peace and quiet. Did I tell you? Cripes, I think I forgot. I’m not about the ‘craft’ anymore. Thanks to your well-read suggestions, now I’m all about the ‘word’.

That Maggie O’Farrell woman has been keeping me up til the wee small hours. No more: Just one more row! it’s all: Just one more page! (I gave up on that ridiculous simultaneous knit/read business).

Driving and half way home, the first niggle niggled. By the time the key was in the front door, it was all back to HOLY MOLY GET ME THE HECK OUTTA HERE. Tonight, tucking three kids into bed, it was all about the apology and this Mama taking three deep breaths and reminding the three precious horrors that tomorrow is a Whole New Day.

While I’m waiting for tomorrow, I’m only thinkin’ the good stuff, the beach. While I’m thinkin’ beach, I might see how a little craft therapy fits into the end of my Sunday. ’Cos, actually, I hope I’ll always be about the craft.

Craft with a healthy dose of Maggie O’Farrell.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Mr and the Zumthor

If your Mr (or brother or father or second male cousin thrice removed), is like my Mr, then this should come as some surprise. I near fell out of my own tree, when Mr Myrtleandeunice became enthusiastically, jump-about-excited, over – wait for it – knitting. Not just a little bit, mind. There were exclamatories. Only an extended welding conversation with like-minded blokes could provoke more exuberance.

Please note: Animated bloke excitement over welding is something I am unlikely to ever ‘get’. I find it best to smile, nod a lot, back away quietly. Meanwhile, I can categorically confirm the large percentage of fellows out there, who do breathless-hyperventilatey and hand-flappy-squealy, over sticking bits of metal together.

All this enthusiasm was prompted by Kirsten’s Zumthor hat pattern. The Mr waited patiently enough for the Shelter yarn to arrive but with those few whiffs of a pending Spring and warmer, non-hat wearing weather, there was barracking with increasing urgency.

It’s a fab pattern and a quick, (though not quick enough for some), knit. I adore the architecturally influenced structure (but the Mr will tell you he loves it more). So giddy with hatted warmth is he, he couldn’t keep still for the modelling bit. It was like photographing The Brady Bunch.

(Which prompted me to realise that I half miss The Brady Bunch).

Zumthor Hat details here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

So it Goes

There’s been intermittent spring-like wafts in the air but I’m still thinking winter. I know that before I am ready, the warm/warmer/blisteringly hot will arrive – boisterous and squinty bright. Florally spring things are pushing up through the earth and after that, the summer sun will throb its heat and cicadas will shrill a relentless tune.

Soon I’ll get into the groove but I do like the winter quiet. I like the bunkering down, the introspection, the blanket-grey sky, the easy on the eye.

My Middle is the treasure hunter. I excavate many of his findings from the bottom of the washing machine, or soggily spun into the crevices of a damp, newly cleaned pocket. Occasionally, his treasures travel in cupped, protective hands: escape the ordeal of the pocket; survive the tumble of an entire school day.

These are the finds that whisper of seasons long past,

Their decay a fragile, intricate perfection.

Meanwhile, the Smallest has declared herself resident Snail Whisperer.

The winter roses are altogether thankful.

Of the seventy or so snail-lets residing on our kitchen table in jarred, semi-captivity, there have been three serious bids for escape. Each of these renegade snails have met with an entirely accidental but, nonetheless, heartbreakingly unfortunate end.

We gather for another snail funeral and bury the remains under the winter roses.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Here Lies One Who Loved Such a Lot but Hated to Weave in Her Ends*

For the one or two of you who may recall my enduring dislike for end-weaving-in, this post shall




with heavy irony.

On Saturday 13th August, the Powerhouse Discovery Centre is hosting an open day, themed The Handmade Revolution. There are fabulous goings-on for those interested in weaving, textiles and, well, making – not least of which involves the visiting UK artist, Shane Waltener...

You can see more of Shane Waltener’s work here (he does breathtaking things with shirring and knicker elastic and whatnot). But if you are lucky enough to live in the same city as the Powerhouse Discovery Centre, you can assist Shane in the making of REAL LIFE ART.

Dubbed the Outdoor Weave In, visitors are able to help Shane complete the work using rope, twine and foraged materials – with trees as weaving looms.

Other activities on offer, include Big Knitting (on three metre knitting needles), making ‘paper lace’, rag rug crafting, a Discovery Trail and inspiration in the form of lectures, short talks and crafty-type demonstrations.

Is this sort of thing right up your alley? If so, I HAVE TEN FAMILY PASSES TO GIVE AWAY and you should let me know quick sticks! It’s first in, best dressed – just make sure I can contact you via your comment.

Along with everyone else who does not live within spitting distance of Sydney, I am, (even given my sordid history with weaving in), stamping-my-feet in tantrummed disappointment. I have decided, that in the spirit of things, I shall spend my Saturday August 13th, stringing up the beleaguered shag pile of a granny blanket between our birch trees – sort of à la Shane Waltener. I shall host my own Outdoor Weave In.

All welcome.


* Note for my Mr:
Sweetheart, should it be me who falls off the perch before ye, then I really couldn’t think of a more fitting epitaph – unless you can come up with some sort of Spike Milligan brilliance? His I told you I was ill is a pearler.**

** For those who enjoy a useless fact:
Spike Milligan is buried at St Thomas’ Church in East Sussex, but the Chichester Diocese refused to allow his epitaph. As a compromise an Irish translation is engraved on Spike’s headstone.***

*** For those who enjoy a linguistic challenge:
The Irish translation of I told you I was ill is: Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite.****

**** For those who have linguistically given up and would prefer an approximate phonetic translation:
Doort may latt guh rev may bro-tcha. (I’m guessing this didn’t help much?).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Fine Balance (and Other Things)

In succinct-ish (I’m not that good at succinct) bullet points:

Bullet Point #1
There is a lot of work happening and this is NOT not good. This is, in fact, theoretically fabulous. There is income. There are occasions, when doing a real job well, prompts a little heart skip – even if that heart skip happens at three in the morning and I am delirious.

Bullet Point #2
Because there is a lot of my work stuff happening, our household has tipped upside down and inside out and suddenly it is the Mr who is cooking the meals and doing the bulk of the parenting and trying to hold his sanity together. Such is the scenario, when two self employed persons get together and make children. Everyone clambers aboard the family-sized rollercoaster and rollicks off on an extended ride. This is neither bad or good. Just rollercoastery.

Bullet Point #3
Through all of this rollercoasting, juggling act, I can still see the bigger work picture. The one where there are three children at school and there is (possibly) more time than now. I am in no hurry for this. There is so much growth spurting happening here, I can’t keep up. Yesterday the Bigger-Small leapt into my arms and bowled me over.

Bullet Point #4
There is no time for space. No time for thinking random thoughts and turning them on their head and looking at ’em sideways. There is no time to blog but sometimes writing stuff down seems almost as necessary as breathing. There is no time for bloggy visiting but sometimes, I do – stealthily – leaving one of those telepathic comments. Did you hear something whizz past your ear?

Bullet Point #5
Something else that seems a necessary sin is the knit thing. It doesn’t matter what. Lately, in short sustaining breaks, I have knit two thirds of an arm warmer thingummyjig in a lace pattern which I will not finish,

because I am part way through a more structured cable thing which is lots more me.

Except this has been tossed aside,

because my Shelter yarn arrived yesterday

and I have cast on a Zumthor for the Mr,

which I will finish in snatches of crafted grateful therapy.

Bullet Point #6
Thanks to you literary lovelies, I have a reading list stretching to the sky and have had short bursts of practise at the Art of the Simultaneous Knit and Read. This roughly translates to a row of knitting followed by a page of reading. Although this was never precisely the aim, I feel like I’m mostly winning.