Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Moving on

Felicity asked me how the Challenge piece is coming along so I thought I'd better get up to date.

The ground rules are that we have to use two fabrics [ one of which I hate, loathe and detest so it's a REAL challenge ] in a piece no bigger than 1 metre in any direction [ mine wanted to be bigger but I've restrained myself ]. No themes given, just the two rather incompatible fabrics.

So here's where I was a week or so ago:

I really wasn't happy with it ... too bitty, too fussy, too ... God only knows ... but I wasn't happy.

So first, I changed the positioning of the lightest carp. Better. Then, I put some of the hand dyed blue between the japanese lady and the top border to break up the fussiness. That helped too.

Next, I added a strong horizontal to make it a Torii gate. Two little side bars of one of the Challenge fabrics made that reference even stronger.

This morning I realised that one of the things that was throwing me off was that the geisha was printed off-grain. I'd cut the piece on-grain so she looked tipsy.

I had more of the print, so I just cut an alternate piece. I'll just have to be a bit more careful piecing her in. I've moved most of the to-be-appliqued flowers too. The ones overlapping the centre of the top border were there to cover up the bright pink flower but I finally decided to just make that top border a bit narrower and avoid the flower completely. That left me free to move the to-be-appliqued bits down to soften the area between the bottom of the geisha print and the shibori-dyed water [ which is much more jade than it looks in the photo and echos the touch of jade green on the geisha. ]

The other change was to remove the brighter orange from the left border, although I retained it on the right.
Then I finally sat down and pieced the last carp. this is the one with the fabric that isn't remotely ME.

Once it was done I realised that it couldn't go in that position [ not that it really GOES in any position ] so I swapped it and the redder one.

Maybe I could make a 3D detachable waterlilly leaf to cover him up later?
I think that I'll probably extend the applique flowers a bit more to the right to soften the seam between the watery shibori, the redder carp, and the geisha piece.
It never ceases to amaze me just how much difference a small change [ or in this case, quite a few small changes ] can make to the success of a piece.

Stay tuned for further tweaking. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Friday, January 26, 2007

not happy

Something happened yesterday that made me profoundly unhappy and I'm still not exactly over it. I have debated whether I was going to say anything about it here and I've decided that I will.

But first : Stephen and Christina's wedding quilt is in last month's issue [ #22] of Quilter's Companion... great photo by the way whoever took it ... can't find a photo credit ... with a bunch of others from last year @ Jeff's Shed, including one by Sylvia Reeves who is also in our local little quilt group. Not bad huh? They picked eight quilts out of dozens and dozens of the winners in a State level comp and two are from our little country town :] ... Sylvia and I didn't even know they were in there until someone contacted me by email to ask a question so it was a really lovely surprise . [ if you're wondering how they could put it in without us knowing... permission and all, well, they didn't need it ... you sign a photography and publicity release with the entry form for the Show ]

Anyway, I knew that the same quilt and another one were going to be in ANOTHER mag [ my favourite aussie one ] in the Feb issue and I was full of the usual anticipation. How will they look on the page? How big will the photos be? How will the editorial be phrased? It's more than a wee bit narcissistic but any quilter who says that she doesn't enjoy a bit of public recognition is fooling herself. I didn't think it was out yet so I was thrilled to see it in the newsagent yesterday, and immediately bought a copy even though I knew full well that I'd get a complimentary one eventually. I couldn't even wait until I got home. I had to open it then and there and flip straight to the article on using japanese fabrics. Yup. There were my quilts... and then as I kept on flipping through, came across a quilt using designs from my japanese sampler class. Now I taught this class for over 10 years and in that time I virtually gave away thousands of copies of designs for japanese kamon. [ well what would you call charging people $5 for over 80 block designs?] This was long before there were ANY books on japanese crests for quilters. Kitti Pippen, Jill Liddell and Kumiko Sudo's books hadn't yet come out. I was drafting from 1" black and white pictures in a Dover book of 4260 copyright free japanese designs. In all, I guess I drafted up about 100 of them. So the chance that someone else out there picked exactly the same ones out of the over 4000 and chose to draft them to exactly the same sizes that I did is fairly remote.
Okay, I didn't recognise the maker's name but then hundreds of girls did that class and I'm sure a fair number of them passed my patterns on to their friends and their friends' friends. That's what quilters do. The blocks were all from a very early incarnation of that class... maybe '91 or '92. Anyway, I had a look at the accompanying text to see if I got credit as the designer, only to read that she "designed" the quilt herself in EQ6. This is when my stomach plummetted into my admittedly-gorgeous shoes. What? Read it again! It still said she "drew" the quilt. I wanted to read it again, as if it was suddenly going to say something different... it was like when you have a mouth ulcer and you have to keep probing it to see how much it hurts
I guess it all hinges on how one defines the sentence " I designed it myself". It was an original layout. I recognized where the blocks in the borders came from [ they certainly weren't mine] but all bar one of the ones in the body of the quilt were. Some of them might have been a coincidence but several of them I drafted for piecing where anyone else would've appliqued them. I know where my lines were. I know my proportions. Those were MY blocks... I guess what I'm having problems with is her statement that she "drew" the blocks into the computer. Copied, or traced but not "drew".
This individual did do her layout. Maybe to her, that's designing. It's not entirely her fault if the way she stated that is open to another interpretation. She maybe has no idea where the blocks came from although they all originally had name and copyright notation on them, possibly didn't think that the designer merited mentioning ... although seeing she's apparently a teacher, one would imagine she would know better. It's absolutely certainly not the fault of the editor who can only go on the information she's given.
It completely ruined my day but I'll get over it. It's not the first time. It won't be the last. If I'd done what Marc wanted and done a book 17 years ago ... well ...we won't go there.
The mag is still sitting on the table. I haven't opened it again. It will be interesting to see how long it is before I do... and I need to cos my friend Nicky Tepper has a project in there.
So now you know ... I'm not at all sure why I'm writing this and I have no intention of having a go at the Editor. She's a lovely person and would never ever intentionally do anything to upset me. I know that. So don't bother suggesting that I write to her.It's not going to happen. I just needed to get this off my chest.
Rant over.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled business.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

busy busy busy [ again ]

You can tell the summer break is coming to an end. Life is picking up pace again.

Yesterday was spent :

  • learning how to milk a goat and general bonding with the livestock
  • working some more on the challenge quilt
  • ditto the sashiko class sample for Purl's Palace
  • lugging water out onto the garden
  • knitting the second of the purple wristwarmer designs. Okay, perhaps I'd better clarify that. In the last post I said that I'd made one-and-a-half pairs of purple wristwarmers. The one pair was a slight reworking of the feather and fan design I came up with for the red ones. I 'd show them to you except that I haven't ACTUALLY sewn them up yet. Instead I decided to make a different purple pair using a leaf edging that I really like and a nifty knitted bobbly cast off from one of Nicky Epstein's books
  • so that was the half-a-pair. Did I make that clear? The pattern is mine but the edging is Nicky's.I've decided that I'll use the same pattern for the black alpaca pair but make them much longer.

    collected David and my friend's DD from Windarring and drove her home as Rob's car is out of action. Rob lives about the same distance out of town as I do but in the opposite direction. Of course this lead to staying for afternoon tea, and the test consumption of the gluten free, egg free, dairy free, yeast free slice that she had invented specifically for my DD - verdict very scrummy btw :] and at this point I was feeling thankful that my tuesday night 4 hr tap class doesn't start till next week!
What did I do last night? Can't remember. Probably more mitten knittin' and watching Torchwood.

Today started off with a post office run to send something to Felicity after dropping off dave then on to Goldfield's Quilters for a couple of hours as there was no bellydancing this week ... raced off just before noon, swung past the supermarket and grabbed salad fixings and quiche [ we've already established that catering isn't my strong suite ] then raced home to get there ahead of the girls from Central Goldfields Gallery who were coming for a lunch meeting to thrash out the Maryborough Community Arts Access Project that Vic Health have funded. Beat them in by at least five minutes too.

I don't know that we achieved all that much but at least the dates are mapped out and we had a nice visit. My diary for this year is starting to look dog eared and scruffy already and it's only bloody January.

After they left I went back into town, picked up David and Jessie again, dropped her home and then back to my place where Chris and Maz had arrived in the interim. Phew!

The huge pile of knitting mags and assorted odds and sods that she bought up has been given a preliminary once over, Chris has been introduced to next door's goats, everyone's been fed and we've just been watching the Dr Who Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride". Now we're onto the Sara Jane Adventures. Maz is crocheting and I'm just about to sew up leaf mitt #2.
Dr Chris has also performed exploratory surgery on that tape measure that I thought had expired and managed to resuscitate her. Ms TM lives again. You have to manually feed the metal tape back into the case where David put a kink in it, but hell, at least she works. The man is a miracle worker I tells ya!

Monday, January 22, 2007

bad day? good day!

okay so it didn't start off the best.

David decided to see just how long Mum's favourite vintage-look retractable brass tape measure was.' Was' is the operative word here folks. Well, I guess technically speaking it IS still that long ... but I'm taking a wild guess that MS TM didn't exactly enjoy the experience of bonding with David because she sure as hell isn't retractable any more. Bugger.

fear not gentle reader

my day started looking up almost immediately with three surprises:

Surprise #1: a phone call alerting me to the imminent arrival in town of a dear friend that I haven't seen for far too long

Surprise #2: another phone call [long] from another friend that I get to see and/or talk to far too infrequently [ hello Nic ]

and waiting for me at the Post Office was the thing that made it a Happy Mail Day

Surprise #3 :

a parcel from the lovely Laura who obviously has been researching my tastes. Here we have some gorgeous blue Araucania hand painted cotton from Chile, a ball of variegated Optima crochet cotton also in blue [ and now I finally know what 10-weight cotton looks like which will prove immensely useful ], a cute little needle felted brooch which I think is going to permanently adorn the hat worn by my favourite bear, and a tube of lavender bath salts. The letter was sealed with a cute little puffy orange sticker that says smile so I peeled it off ever so carefully and it's currently stuck to the surround of my monitor.

This was my 'prize' from Laura's 'help me destash' comp. I thought maybe I was going to get a couple of her buttons made from vintage linens, not this veritable avalanche of largesse. So thank you Laura for such a lovely giftie.

and now I have to get something off my chest.

I sort of fell off the wagon a teeny little bit.

Do you remember when I said that I was going to knit myself fingerless mittens in all the colours in my wardrobe? Well, you've seen the navy pair and the red and I've done a pair-and-a-half in purply plum this week that you haven't seen yet, and there's a beautiful ball of alpaca all earmarked for the black pair, BUT the only jade/teal I had in the stash was acrylic, and wristwarmers rooly rooly need to be natural fibre, n'est-ce pas? Yeah, knew you'd agree with me. So anyway, a quick trip to the back room at Bendigo Woollen Mills didn't produce the goods [ what it did produce was 2 x 200 gram balls of charcoal grey, and a mixed bag of odd weight balls of MY colours: plum, mauve, navy, country red and a jade/navy/purple marl but according to my version of The Rules, on-sale-at BWM doesn't count ]


when I went into town to pick David up, I squeezed in a visit to what is laughingly referred to as the LYS for a 7mm circ and I must've got her on a good day cos she's ordering in the colour I want in Heirloom 5-ply [ about sockweight ] even though she knows I only want 1 or 2 balls. This is a woman renowned for her ability to gold medal in Surly and UNhelpful for her country... so all in all definitely a good day :]

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rain, quilts and a family of guinea pigs

The most important news today [ and yesterday actually ] is RAIN. After a week of well over 30degC , we have rain ... 11 mm yesterday and I haven't checked the gauge for today but I'd hazard a guess that it's probably about 8mm, so not too far off an inch in the old system.

Yesterday was 30C despite the rain so the humidity was up round 85% but no one was complaining. We slept under QUILTS last night.

Now on to the creative stuff:

Quilting first.

I've been working on another Challenge quilt, this time for the Strathdale Quilters Show at Easter in Bendigo. The challenge was to use two quite disparate pieces of fabric in a piece no larger than 1 metre [ 40"] on any side. I just realised I don't have a close up photo of the challenge fabrics but you may be able to pick them out. One is red with small spots of pink, mauve and green, the other is sort of bullseye circles in rust, pink, yellow and white [ erk ]

Okay. so... thought process?

Now I have to say at the outset that one of the set fabrics I really really really don't like. At all. The other I might well have bought but never in a zillion years would I have paired it up with the other one. So okay, it IS supposed to be a challenge but just once I'd like to be given a fabric or theme that I actually LIKE.

I considered and discarded several options , any of which might have worked, but what clicked was the thought of the hated fabric as fish skin... carp or goldfish specifically.

I unearthed a couple of goldfish blocks I'd played around with years ago. Decided that they wouldn't suit but the block itself would, and then went searching the stash. I knew that I had three goldfish/carp fabrics... one on the same colour as my MX4GD hand dye and two on a vivid cobalt. Either would've worked but the cobalt was just a little toooooo intense for what I had in mind.

A further ferret through the japanese stash unearthed the geisha print which just happened to share the right cast of blue as the remaining carp print and the hand dyed stuff. We have liftoff.

I often get asked how I design my japanese quilts and I think that my answer is probably not all that helpful. It is not an intellectual process. I tend not to design on paper or in the computer. My choices are largely intuitive and evolve in response to the quirks inherent in the available fabric. If I had a slightly different cut of fabric, i might well resolve the problem in a different way.

I apologise for not taking photos up to this point. Basically the process involved pinning slabs of likely combinations up, standing back and then moving them around. The final addition before I took this photo was finding the piece for across the top. I'd actually forgotten I had this one.

I like having narrow side borders and wide top and bottom ones on japanese pieces to reinforce the relationship to japanese scrolls. but I was finding the pink flower in the top fabric intrusive so I've covered it with flowers cut from the geisha print. They are not necessarily meant to draw attention to themselves although there are small areas overlapping into the borders and I probably won't applique them in place until quite late in the process. Similarly those green leaves are covering a very pale part of the print that I found jarring.

The amorphous blob on the right hand side under the 2nd carp will be carp #3. You need to use your visualisation skills at this juncture. Trust me

and I think the placement of the two existing carp is probably going to be reversed ... or possibly the lighter one may end up at the top with the carp fabric next and then the 2 darker ones. Sometimes you just need to see the photos on the monitor.

The hardest part has been sticking to the "no larger than 40" restriction. This one really wants to be longer.

and for those who are interested in such things [ and in the interest of giving credit where it's due ] the carp block is from a pattern by June Colburn that I bought from her in 1996 in Paducah, KY. She even autographed the pattern pack for me.

Anyway, moving on: this mauve piece just happened in about 5 minutes while I was playing with the carp one . I've been making a sample for a class at Daylesford involving sashiko and vintage kimono silk... this isn't it ... BUT the pile of silk was sort of sitting on the edge of the table and the piece with the black border leapt onto the design wall. The triangles having been cut and then discarded from the sashiko piece were languishing unloved and unwanted on the top of the pile. I guess you could say I has an epiphany and roughly 2 minutes later THAT was up on the wall but rotated 90 degress from where it is now. Because I tilted the camera sideways I got to see it from a different angle. I like it better this way ... except I think I might like it even better if I turn it upside down so that the darker mauve is at the bottom. what do you think?

I was going to show you what I have been knitting as well but I think I'll save it for next post. Instead I'll leave you with my family of knitted guinea pigs. CUTE huh? The brown one I bought at Apollo Bay last year when I was there teaching. David loves it and carries it around for hours at a time.[ and this is the guy who's terrified of almost all animals ] The other two arrived in the mail just before Christmas from my lovely hostess in Apollo Bay, Judy H. Since then I have had to rescue the baby one from maurauding cats on a regular basis.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Travelling Vine ... free pattern for fingerless mittens

I've decided to share the pattern for the fingerless mitten / wristwarmers from yesterday's post with all the usual caveats. I'm not a professional knitwear designer. The pattern is offered 'as is' for your personal use only. Feel free to link to this post.

These lacy gauntlets have a stocking [ette] stitch palm and are quite forgiving when it comes to sizing but if you are particularly fine boned, my feeling is that you may want to go down a needle size, but I haven't tested this.

They WILL get slightly longer when blocked.

1 x 50gram ball of fingering or sockweight wool

the sample was made with a ball of "mystery" blue 4 ply [ fingering ] pure wool from my stash.

needles : 4mm straights

gauge: unblocked over stocking[ette] 12 stitches = 2"
gauge: blocked 11 stitches = 2 "

left mitt:

cast on 40 stitches

Row 1 and every alternate row: k1,p to last st, k1 [ wrong side ]

Row 2: k3,* YO, k2, sl 1, K1, psso, k2tog, k2,YO, k1. Repeat from * to last st, k1.

Row 4: k2,* YO, k2, sl 1, K1, psso, k2tog, k2,YO, k1. repeat from* to last 2 stitches, k2.

Repeat rows 1 -4 until work measures 3 1/2" at longest point ending with a purl row.

Next row: [k1,p1] repeat across row

Continue in k1, p1 rib for another 11 rows [ 12 rows rib in total ]

Thumb opening:

cast on 3 st,

Knit the 3 you just cast on and continue in main pattern for 22 stitches, k to end of row.[43 st]

Cast on 3 stitches at the beginning of the next row.

K the 3 you just cast on, purl to last 3 st, k3. [ 46 st ]

Working on these 46 stitches, [ no more casting on ] repeat the last 2 rows 9 times, keeping the first 3 and last 3 st in k. There should be 10 garter st ribs.

cast off [ bind off ] 3 st at the beginning of the next 2 rows. [ 40 st]

Continue in established pattern [ rows 1 - 4 ] for 8 rows or desired length.

Cast off.

right mitt:

work as per left mitt until Thumb opening.

cast on 3 stitches, k 21, continue in established pattern to end of row. [ 43 st ]

cast on 3 st at the beginning of the next row.

K the 3 just cast on, p to last 3 st, k3. [46 st]

Working on these 46 st, repeat last 2 rows 9 times, keeping the first 3 and last 3 st in k. There should be 10 garter st ribs.

Cast off [ bind off] 3 st at the beginning of the next 2 rows [ 40 st]

Continue in established pattern [ rows 1-4 ] to match left mitt.

Cast off.


Sew side seam, leaving garter stitched section open.

wear and enjoy.

The pattern is for personal or charitable use only. Please do not sell the pattern .

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Living in the country part 653 some presents and recent knitting

I know that I've mentioned before that we're not on 'town' water out here. My supply comes off the roofs and into a 113,000 litre [ 25,000 gallon] concrete tank. This is more than ample for two adults. Simple enough but the part of the equation that non-country dwellers fail to appreciate [ which includes me before I moved out here ] is no electricity = no pump = no water.
Think about that

It's been HOT all week. Hovering in the high 30s [ near the hundred mark for those of you still using farenheit ]. Scorching.

lot of my time has been spent stretched out in front of the tv and the aircon.

except for yesterday afternoon.

That's when the power went out over a third of the state for four hours.

That's when I was glad that large amounts of money [ mine ] and energy [ mainly Chris' ] had been expended putting a 4500 litre water tank up the top of the hill so that there would be gravity-fed water in the event of a power outage.

Last time this happened I had to slog up to the shed with buckets to get enough to flush the you-know-what, and do a run into town for bottled water to drink.

Not any more :]

I filled a bath with cold water and just kept dunking David in it regularly. I settled for sitting on the end of the bath with a good book, a glass and with my feet in the water.
Not quite heaven but under the circumstances, pretty close.

and now for the photos:
decided that I needed covered coathangers that matched the colours in my wardrobe, so she made me these. Like I'm not already anal enough!

She also gave me four balls of knitting cotton. The teal is unidentified, the variegated is Panda Regal and the other two are Sullivans and seem to be thinner than usual.
This is a woman who really knows my colours!
the coathangers were completely in addition to my Chrissie pressies:

... another Maneki Nekko for my collection, a cat-on-chair thimble holder and this sweet little sheepie tape measure from lantern Moon.

Can't think of a clever segue so moving on:

Not that it will come as a surprise to anyone who really knows me, but I do admit to just occasionally being a weeny bit obsessive. What? you didn't know that about me? Really?

... a NORMAL person probably wouldn't be knitting in this weather and I will admit that during the worst of the day I'm confining myself to pouring through my gazillions of quilting , crochet and knitting books and mags, but even so, I have managed to finish another project or three this week:
in the spirit of Knit From Your Stash '07, I ran up a couple more baby hats in odd balls
and something else

here is the mystery project being blocked yesterday morning
I sewed them up last night
and so finally

I present to you...

the obligatory drumroll please maestro...

yet another pair of self-designed, totally out of season wristwarmers.

These are 4-ply [ fingering weight ] mystery pure wool in a simple lace pattern on the cuff and back of the hand. The palm is plain old stocking[ette] stitch with 1x1 ribbing to shape the wrist. I really like patterns where the alternate rows are just plain old purl. Gives me some breathing space.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!


Baby photos ahead.

Dave and I did the unthinkable. I actively CHOSE to drive down to Melbourne on Sunday without there being some specific occasion involved. This does not happen people.
Weddings, Easter, Mother's Day, Cirque Du Soliel. Those are the things it takes to get me into the car and down the Calder.
I guess this is what happens when one gains a grandchild.
Happiness ensued, cuddles were had, not to mention some extremely belated Christmas gifting, a birthday BBQ
[ Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you ,
Happy Birthday deeeeeaaar Chri-is,
Happy Birthday to you! ]
and I have a load of photos to show you but basically for this post I'm going to bore everyone brainless with photos of Master Riley David.

So if you're here for the knitting or the quilting, or the cats ... move along ... nothing to see here ... apart from how well that little cotton top fits Riley.

Anyway, seeing the thermometer was reading 33.6 C at 9am and I need to get over to Daylesford, I guess I'd better get moving... and thanks to all those folks who popped in to say Hi yesterday.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

yoo hoo ... hello out there

You know how it goes. Someone says " So what've you been up to in the last 3 months?" and you don't have much of an answer except that it seems like you've been awfully busy doing whatever it was that you can't remember.
Then one day you decide to bite the bullet and start Blogging as a way of tracking what the heck it is that you've been doing.
Before you know it, you've joined a couple of netrings and forged cyberfriendships with people you've never met... and in a couple of cases, this has led to RealWorld friendship.
Judging from the comments, I thought I had about a dozen or so people reading the Blog ... cool ... and then I installed a counter.
Unless the last two days have been a statistical anomaly, there are actually a few more of you than I thought

Friday, January 12, 2007

Knit from your Stash '07

I wouldn't go as far as saying I have too much yarn.

As stashes go, my yarn collection is miniscule compared to some I have seen. After all, it's confined to a single wardobe.

That's good, right?

I mean, my quilt fabric stash requires a whole ROOM, so what's one measly cupboard?

I knitted over a hundred finished items last year, so patently I DO use it ... but you see , here's the problem [ you have to imagine me saying problem with air quotes ] The stash did not get smaller over the course of ought six, it expanded considerably.

So here's the deal:

Wendy wants us all to knit from our stashes this year. Very commendable.We're even allowed to tailor her rules to suit ourselves. I've made a good start too: since New Year's, I've finished the blue and white cotton shirt for Riley pictured last week, ditto these tiny teal socks in vintage Patons Bluebell, a premmie sized roll brim hat in 4-ply fingering weight mystery baby nylon [ probably Patons again ] for charity donation and about five months too early, these snazzy wristwarmers in mystery wool/acrylic blend sock weight. I'm pretty chuffed at how they turned out and because the pattern's my own I can post it if anyone's interested but I need to do them again first to track yardage. Oh, they're not really QUITE that bright. Last year, I made myself blue garter stitch ones and cream ribbed ones so now I just need a pair in black or grey, a teal pair and maybe plum. Then I can match every single item in my winter wardrobe :]

Oh yeah, there was also a really cute beret but I haven't taken a photo of that yet so that's for tomorrow.

Oakley thought that I was spending too much time knitting on a day that was just a tad on the warm side [ 36C or 96F ] when I could've been snuggling up to a nice fluffy cat as you naturally choose to do on stinking hot days. He made his point by sitting on the needles. So here's today's not-at-all-gratuitous cat photo.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

trouble with the space time continuum

I think that there must be some kind of intergalactic 'hot spot' centered on my abode.
Strange things have been happening.
Take, for instance, the Christmas decorations. Every year I begin the Great Takedown, as per family tradition, on January 6th [ Twelfth Night ]. This year was no exception. Sunday dawned and I started . I fetched boxes, took down ornaments, I swept, I dusted, I washed, I packed.
With me so far?
Righto. Well, it always takes a week to take everything down, do the inventory, find appropriate storage for anything I've acquired in the interim , and then pack it all away and return the house to its pre-Christmas state.
I expected it to take longer this time because
  • it's been hot and humid all week
  • my tailbone isn't happy with me because I sat down rather hard on the gravel
  • I've acquired rather a lot of new stuff that needed to be accommodated

Now note today's date. It's only the 9th. Day 4. Barely halfway through the assigned period AND YET ... I'm finished. Done.
Everything is all boxed up and out on the verandah. Not, I grant you, up in the shed yet but I currently can't get to the shelves because a certain person has parked 5 or 6 treadles in front of them.
Have I somehow managed to miss a room or two?
Nope. There is just no explanation.

Now this is weird enough but the other half of the space/time situation relates to the never-ending baby shawl. I sat down last night and worked on it for what to the casual observer appeared to be several hours. Till 2am, I trebled and chained ... my fingers cramped up... my rear started protesting ... it FELT like I'd been at it for days. Net gain: 2 rows. Two bloody rows. In other words the shawl grew by about half an inch. There is some sort of bottomless black hole in the rumpus room where all those hours that I saved on the Christmas stuff have been swallowed up, along with all the hours spent on the shawl. They've been sucked into its insatiable maw.
Hang on I'm just going to count how many stitches are around the edge at the moment ... oh ... okay ... I take it all back ... 928 stitches... forget I said anything. As you were. Nothing to see here.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

let's see if Blogger will behave now

Quick ... while Blogger is behaving ... here are some more photos from our mini retreat:

first is one of a series of seasonal wallhangings that Jeanette W is doing for her first grader, Cory. Obviously this one is for summer.
Next is Robyn L-from-Daylesford's quilt based on blocks by Kumiko Sudo. She has made all 30 3D fabric folded flower blocks from the book and so far has used them to produced a quilt, wallhanging[s], table runner and cushions. All heavily hand quilted and sashiko stitched. Also from Rob is this superb fold out workbox which I believe was designed by a friend of hers, but the name escapes me.
Next is Marcie C from Castlemaine, with her pseudo-crazy-patch wallhanging. Unfortunately the photo doesn't show the machine embroidery along each seam, or the hand embroidered " live well, laugh often, love much " Although it may not be immediately apparent, all the blocks are actually identical and foundation pieced.

Pinned to the wall near Marcie's elbow are a couple of foundation pieced carp . One of these was the only actual quilt related thing that I did for the 2 days. Mostly I made beaded stitch markers and worked on the endless baby shawl and enjoyed my friend's company.

I will show you this though. My first FO of the New Year ... cast on New Year's eve and finished on the 3rd. Obviously it's for DGS Riley David who is 2 weeks old. The pattern was a vintage Patons one on 3.25mm needles in Bendigo Woollen Mills 4-ply [ fingering ] cotton. I thought it would look crisp for summer done in these colours.

As usual, all of the action was supervised by Oakley with occasional imput from Nadie's Suki and Sumi. Sophie declined to participate while Nadie's girls were around and spent most of those two stifling days sandwiched under the quilt on my bed.

How to pass the time during a hot spell [ lots of photos ]

Picture this scene if you will:
35 degree C [ something mid 90 ish F ] and stick-you-to-your-seat humid because we'd finally had some rain, aircon not really helping, enough perspiration to make one wish for shares in a deoderant company.

'orrible, right?
We were having an absolute BALL.
David went off to a 4-day camp at Airey's Inlet and not being one to waste the opportunity, I hung a quilt on the gatepost and invited some of my quilting / knitting girlies to descend on the acreage for a couple of days. I didn't give them much warning, but still Felicity, Megan, Deb, Marcie, Robyn and Barb took me up on the invitation. Sylvia and Jeanette joined us when they could, and
  • Nadie [ hey sweety which bit of the HTML do I need to delete to get rid of these bulletpoints?]
  • and The Boy and the cats came up too. We were expecting Chris and
  • Maz
  • , Bernadette and Di but family duties and illness intervened :[

    Still, with the lesser numbers we all managed to fit around the kitchen table.

    We ate lots at very strange hours [ lunch at 2 , dinner at 9 ]
    drank lots
    talked lots
    shared Chantelle [ that's Central Vic Quilterspeak for Show-n-tell ]
    laughed lots
    and did a modicum of quilting, knitting, beading and crochet as the mood demanded.
    It was
  • Felicity's
  • first night away from the Toddlermonster since he was born and they both survived the experience intact. She was one very relaxed and happy Mummy as we breakfasted outside and then took a stroll over to view the new goatlings next door.

    This is Blogless Megan's cat miniature. The faces are about an inch and are twice the size of the other one she made [ but I don't have a photo of THAT ] I hope she realises how lucky she is that I restrained myself from full body tackling her to the ground so that I could wrench this from her limp and unresisting fingers :]

    Blogger is currently unwilling to let me post any more photos so I'll do that tomorrow. Same bat time same bat channel.

    Six More Weird things

    • I avoid checking the Post Box for up to 2 weeks at a time.
    • I love collecting [ and sorting ] buttons. I've done this ever since I was tiny, and I was really really upset when my Mum 'rationalised' her button collection about a year before she died and sent all the vintage stuff that I coveted to the Op Shop without consulting me.
    • I have multiple Christmas trees
    • I talk to my cats and my goats as if I expect them to answer back.
    • I watch my favourite movies and shows hundreds of times until I can pretty much recite the scripts in my sleep.
    • If I buy a teddy, it has to have its head above the plastic bag so that it won't suffocate. Check out people either get this or they don't. Until I get to the checkout [ assuming it's a department store ] the bear rides in the front of the trolley like a child.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    MeMe: Six Weird Things about Me

    • I only wear 5 colours. Blues, teal/turquoise, reds, plums/purples and black. The couple of pieces in my wardrobe that don't conform were gifts. I used to find myself buying what were essentially the same pieces over and over so I decided to simplify. Twice a year I do a total wardrobe check and go shopping for what's missing. Do I have a basic pair of trousers? skirt? cardigan? in each colourway ? No? Then go get one.
    • I spend half the year wearing cowboy boots. No other footwear from about April till October. I have a blue pair, jade, and brown [ yeah I know, not one of my colours but they were gorgeous and go with everything ]
    • I like order. My fiction books and DVDs are arranged in alphabetical order . CDs and Non Fiction are arranged by genre. My fabric is arranged by colour. My yarn by gauge... but I'm not a naturally tidy person.
    • My T-shirt drawer is colour co-ordinated. So's my wardrobe.
    • I don't like crowds. The large craft fairs are an ordeal not a pleasure. I avoid shopping malls if at all possible .
    • I count things and work out percentages... I've read x pages so I'm 1/3 through the book. I've done y blocks so that's 1/4 of the quilt.

    Okay now it's your turn Nadie, Nola, Maz, Linda, Felicity and whoever else hasn't done this one yet. Caity?

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    My only resolution this year is to be happy. I suspect that this will involve much reading, gardening, knitting, quilting, friends and hopefully getting to cuddle my Grandson on a semi regular basis.

    Okay MAYBE just MAYBE I'll also try to keep the laundry a bit tidier.

    I didn't 'do' anything to bring in the new year .. was feeling less than wonderful to tell you the truth so I opted out of the whole music/bellydancing at the pub and fireworks thing ... a bit sad for dave but then he didn't know it was on the cards so won't be feeling hard done by. In any case he was asleep long before the New Year arrived.

    At about midnight the migraine meds kicked in so I went outside to listen to the fireworks in town six and a half kilometres away. I could see the flashes as they went off and could even see a tiny fragment of the show just above the horizon as the higher ones cleared the trees. As I stood watching and listening there was a series of actinic flashes from a different direction and I realised that Mother Nature had decided to join the party. After about 5 minutes of light show, the heavens opened and I stayed up till about 2.30 watching and listening to the rain on the tin roof and the garden... and the complaining of two very wet and disgruntled goats.

    What a wonderful start to the year. Almost an inch of rain in the gauge this morning so I hope that this is a foretaste of things to come.

    Okay, okay, I lied.

    I DO have a resolution ... sort of ...

    I did quite well in the UFO completion area last year so I'm going to try and keep it going. Stash reduction will be a priority both for fabric and wool.

    I'm NOT going to promise that there will be no purchases [ that's NEVER going to happen ] but

    Purchases of wool and / or fabric can be made only under the following conditions:

    • sock wool doesn't count
    • neither do spinning or dyeing supplies
    • specific fabric or yarn needed for gifts or class samples is also exempt
    • I reserve the right to disregard all of the above if I REALLY REALLY REALLY need to :] or if it's on special in the back room at Bendigo Woolen Mills.