Sunday, November 30, 2008

Awooga! Awooga! This is not a drill !

Some of you are familiar with my friend Sheepish Annie and her occasional co-bloggers Rational Mind and Hysterical Mind, or RM and HM as we Sheepie cognoscenti prefer to call 'em.
I have never claimed to have either a RM or HM
what I do have
are my own teeny tiny 'inner voices'

Ms Restraint and Ms Goodtaste
whom I keep tied up in the attic

but tomorrow is December 1st and so Ms Restraint is off her leash and about to depart on her annual vacances.

tomorrow we move into full-on Catsmum Christmas mode [ if you weren't around last year you may want to check the December '07 archives ]

Restraint has left the building
I think she's left the state
She's probably halfway to Maine as we speak

I've still got Ms Goodtaste hogtied, blindfolded and stuffed in a suitcase so that she can't similarly flee the scene, but there are no guarantees.

you have been warned

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Only in Castlemaine

So there I was, innocently wandering through town yesterday afternoon, minding my own beeswax and intent on nothing much more than perusing available Christmas decorations [ because it's not as though I could probably decorate a small country - say Monaco or Lichtenstein - just with what I have here, for goodness sake ] in the scant 10 minutes afforded me until I had to collect David
and then I got totally, completely, and uncomplainingly, sidetracked.

In your average suburban environment, frantic beckoning from the owner of the local yarn shop might be taken to indicate the presence of some luscious new goodies with which she was hoping to extort even more of the dwindling bank balance

but no

this is Castlemaine after all ...
The Bush

Here is sidetracker #1: Brenda, local yarn shop owner par excellence and someone who is quite capable of side tracking me on a perfectly ordinary day as it is ... [wo]manfully multitasking as she measures and cuts ribbon while simultaneously cradling sidertracker #2
... oooh yes... Brenda is another goat-mummy. Meggsy is a week old Boer who had a rather rocky start in life and so she's coming to work with her surrogate Nanny until she's a little sturdier.

and I don't suppose it will surprise anyone that I was a couple of minutes late picking David up

okay, so I lied
it was 8 minutes

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The "Happy News" that I alluded to yesterday can now be shared

drum roll please Maestro

ta da da dahh [ okay so that's more like a trumpet fanfare... sue me ]

As of last Saturday evening Nadie and The Boy are now engaged.

I have no idea whether he went down on the traditional bended knee - it was twilight on a wet and windy beach, so perhaps not, but in any case, as both sets of parents have now been informed, as well as one hysterically happy Italian Grandmother, 't'is official.
We WERE all going to be told in person at Christmas but a certain Boy leaked the news to his mother yesterday and so I was promptly thereafter told over the phone
she was up here Monday and didn't tell me !!!! Little Beggar ! I needed to hug someone and there was no one here except David, who really had no idea why I was happy but let me hug him anyway.

Anyway, the wedding will be in about two years, once The Boy has finished University

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Can I have some whine with that ??

Marcie pointed out today at Quilting that I've been a bit quiet this week. No dramas per se but it's been a busy week - the good, the bad, and the indifferent

The good:
- getting together with my friend Lorraine for some Saint Nick construction [ and she's coming over again tomorrow after which I'll resume the Christmas blogging ]
- Tara came over with Sorcha and brought Ms Rose [ the wheel ] along as well - we had a fabulous time ... except that I forgot to feed Sorcha ... BAD Catsmum ... BAD!!! However Sorcha forgives me because I let her play with my vintage pram and the dolliesfor anyone who doesn't remember, Tara was the winner of my last blogiversary contest
- My lovely friend Val also popped in on a flying visit to Bendigo .
I probably looked a bit stunned when she arrived - because I'd actually thought that she was coming the week before .
It's that whole 'this Friday' /'next Friday' thing. She asked what was I doing next Friday and meant the Friday of next week ... as you would ... for some reason my addled brain translated it into Friday of this week ... and promptly put Tara and Sorcha off for a week which meant that they all fetched up at mine together LOL
- Nadie came up on a flying visit on Monday afternoon to reclaim Suki and Sumi who were model houseguests but the remaining feline/canine population Chez Catsmum were more than happy to see their tails disappearing in the distance
For posterity - and those who wouldn't believe it without proof - here are MissC and Sumi actually on the same bed.
Relaxed on the same bed in actual fact.

the bad:
- the funeral for my dear little Japanese friend Mineko Wright [ Minnie ], who passed away from cancer last week. Nuff said, I think.

the indifferent:
- having an electrician in to do a few smallish jobs that had piled up. Quote: $200 - $300 ... yup, can manage that. Invoice which arrived in the mail today: $740.
If anyone wants to know a really, really good electrician in Bendigo who charges like a wounded bull but turns up when he says he will , just let me know, okay !

In between all of this there has been much lugging of Chrissy boxes down from, and back up to, the shed, a routine Doctor visit, [ the BP is still up ] ... potentially disturbing
health news from a dear friend today [ fingers crossed for good news Friday, sweetness ]

and no bloody dance classes until after I see the orthopedic surgeon next week [ grumble grumble whine ]

edited to add - did get one lot of very happy news at 9pm but it deserves its own post tomorrow - and no ... before you ask ... no one is pregnant !!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh noes !!

Sophie here , cowering behind Saint Nick

The Christmas phobic amongst you may want to avert your eyes from the counter over there in the side bar. In fact, you may just want to give Susan In Stitches a miss till the second week of January...

It's THAT time of year and she's at it again

So, do you think that Oakley, MissC and I should warn Bear about the horrors to come ?
I mean ... this is the woman who puts xmas garlands on goats for goodness sake !!
and now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find a better hiding place before she finds her stash of Christmas ribbon

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free pattern : Nadie - crochet headband / hair wrap

Sheepie suggested that this be named for my daughter as she wears it so well. Who am I to argue with SA ?
So here is the pattern for Nadie, a simple crochet headband of the wider hair-wrap type ... particularly fabulous on anyone with long curls or dreads.
It is fastened with a button but you could easily adapt it for ties if you prefer.

This pattern is written in British/Australian terminology [ for US version scroll down to the bottom ]

Yarn: 1x 50 gram ball of Lana Gatto Jaipur 100% egyptian cotton
Hook: 3.5mm
Tension: 18 st and 10 rows = 4" / 10 cm
Size: average adult

english/aussie abbreviations:
ch - chain
dc - double crochet
htr - half treble
tr - treble

foundation row: chain 78

Row 1: dc in 2nd ch from hook, 9 dc [10 dc in total] 5 htr, 47 tr, 5 htr, 10 dc, ch 1, turn
Row 2: 10 dc, 5 htr, 2 tr,* ch1, miss 1 tr, 2 tr* repeat from * to * a further 14 times [ you should have 15 spaces ] 5 htr, 10 dc, ch 1, turn
Row 3:10 dc, 5 htr, 47 tr, 5htr, 10 dc, ch 1 turn

repeat rows 2 & 3 a further 6 times, ending with row 3 [ you should have 7 rows of chain spaces ]. Do not end off.

With right side still facing you, work2 dc in the corner and a dc in each of the 7 holes created by the rows of dc, ch 1 , turn
next row:* 7 dc, ch 1 turn *, repeat this row once more omitting the ch at the end and fasten off

Work button hole:
With right side facing, rejoin yarn to the right corner and work 7 dc across to correspond with the end section just completed
next row: ch 1, 2 dc, ch 4, skip next 4 dc, 2dc, ch 1 turn
next row: 2 dc, 4 dc into the chain space, 2 dc and fasten off.

Sew a suitable button onto the end opposite to the buttonhole


and now the American version:

Yarn: 1x 50 gram ball of Lana Gatto Jaipur 100% egyptian cotton
Hook: E [ 3.5mm ]
Gauge: 18 st and 10 rows = 4" / 10 cm
Size: average adult

american abbreviations:
ch - chain
sc - single crochet
hdc - half double crochet
dc - double crochet

foundation row: chain 78

Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, 9 sc [ 10 sc in total] 5 hdc, 47 dc, 5 hdc, 10 sc, ch 1, turn
Row 2: 10 sc, 5 hdc, 2 dc,* ch1, miss 1 dc, 2 dc* repeat from * to * a further 14 times [ you should have 15 spaces ] 5 hdc, 10 sc, ch 1, turn
Row 3: 10 sc, 5 hdc, 47 dc, 5 hdc, 10 sc, ch 1, turn

repeat rows 2 & 3 a further 6 times [ so you have 7 rows with chain spaces ] Do not end off.

With right side still facing you, work2 sc in the corner and a sc in each of the 7 holes created by the rows of sc, ch 1 , turn
next row:* 7 sc, ch 1 turn *, repeat this row once more omitting the ch at the end and fasten off

Work button hole:
With right side facing, rejoin yarn to the right corner and work 7 sc across to correspond with the end section just completed
next row: ch 1, 2 sc, ch 4, skip next 4 sc, 2sc, ch 1 turn
next row: 2 sc, 4 sc into the chain space, 2 sc and fasten off.

Sew a suitable button onto the end opposite to the buttonhole


copyright 2008 Susan Iacuone for personal and charity use. You may make limited quantities for sale but please don't try to pass this pattern off as your own. It isn't cool and the karma fairy will kick your backside!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Belated weekend catch up

Nadie came up this last weekend with a dual mission.

First and foremost was to take care of David for a few hours while I taught a 'fabric origami' class over at Daylesford.

Second was the temporary rehousing of Suki and Sumi for a week or so, while Nadie and The Boy have a short break at Lakes Entrance with some friends.
This brings the cat complement Chez Catsmum to five.

As per usual
MissC isn't particularly impressed
Sophie spent the first two days under my bed
I've hardly seen Oakley except at mealtimes
poor Bear is being hissed at every way he turns
He's spending a lot of time next door with his family and out of the reach of anything vaguely feline.
Nadie and Chris went homewards on Monday night but before that there was time for a little goat wrangling [ and even wrangling of a little goat ]

I took advantage of Nadie's presence to snap this pic of a crochet headband* ** that I made to try out the Lana Gatto Jaipur cotton [yummm] for Zoe over at Purl's Palace
Of course, that meant that I had to make another one for Nadie herself - in unidentified denim-y blue cotton from the stash: and I'm currently doing another one for her in the Lana Gatto in a glorious deep red. What can I say? ... this is a girl who loves her headbands.
She also happily took possession of the hand dyed pair of Bripples that I made for her ... even if it IS almost the start of Summer and they probably won't get worn again for 6 months.

* anyone got a catchy naming suggestion for the headband ???

** pattern, anyone ??

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Fotos

otherwise known as : How to set a fox trap to catch a Bear

T'other morning, I was making breakfast and I could hear the maggies going absolutely nuts. Bear was conspicuously silent.
When I looked out, I could see the magpies frantically circling around the head of a very large fox.

Foxes* are not good when there are small, relatively newborn animals around.

So the last few nights PeteND has set a [humane] trap with rancid chicken giblets

so far no fox

I was on surrogate-mother duty today because both Pete and Brenda needed to be elsewhere
Bear was already over next door playing with Misty and Molly

and look what greeted me when I went over to feed Lucky:

is that a hang dog expression or what ??

Obviously they need to brush up their reading skills

* foxes and rabbits are not native to Australia. They were introduced by barmy English colonists who wanted to go hunting!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

new project: Christmas Knitting

Every year I have the same problem.
What to give my elderly Italian Mother-in-Law ... a woman who has no interests, and has everything that she wants or needs [ except her sons back and I can't help there ]
Christmas is particularly tricky because the late, unlamented father-in-law died on Christmas Day in '94, thereby ensuring an ambivalent Christmas for as long as MIL's alive.
This year perhaps doubly tricky as it will be the first since the death of my brother-in-law, her last child, back in April.

The woman needs comfort and the only kind that I can provide is physical comfort so I'm making her a Faroese style shawl - simply garter stitch with a lace border in Drops Eskimo which is a lovely soft unplied single spun wool from Norway. You can see that the overall effect is a soft, sober, suitable grey - remember we're talking elderly Italian widow - but on close inspection it contains flashes of lavender and pink, so, even though she won't be able to see it, being almost completely blind, she'll still have something beautiful to wear whether she is aware of it or not.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Remembrance

Yesterday at 11 am, people all over the country [ and the Commonwealth ] paused to remember the moment exactly 90 years ago when the guns of WW1 became silent.

Today I'm doing a different kind of remembering.
My only sibling, my 'baby' brother would have turned 50 today

Bill was a talented graphic artist and photographer who went blind in his mid 20s, and died suddenly at 34 of a cerebral haemorrhage.

I really struggle with the idea of him at 50

He was a real little beggar as a kid, always doing his best to get me [ the goody two shoes perfect elder sister ] into strife ... always under my shadow a bit, until a very perceptive art teacher encouraged and developed his rather prodigious natural talent in High School.

He was a strange, eccentric, gentle, whimsical, child-like soul and it's sad that he didn't ever manage to realise his enormous potential. Life isn't always fair, is it ?

Monday, November 10, 2008


I am really really not happy with this one

point the first: Consider the fact that the palette is COMPLETELY outside my comfort zone [ what can I say ? I thought it'd be a good challenge ... sigh ... shrug ]

point the second: After all the hours spent painstakingly embroidering grasses, they are toooooo subtle that they don't show up unless one's face is six inches from the bottom of the quilt

point the third:
I totally and irretrievably stuffed up the placement of the stencilling:

'Long' is far too close to the reverse applique kanji. In my defense, the flipping stencil is opaque, making placement a bit of a crap shoot at best ... but I knew this ...I've done it before. I should have used one of those 'blue wash out pens that I hate so much' to trace the positions in before I reached for the oilpaint.

point the fourth: with so many hours already down the gurgler, you'd think I'd just toss it in the corner - or the bin - and move onto something else. That's probably what I'd advise someone else to do, surely ?

or at least take some time away from it ?


plus I know if I take it off that design wall and fold it up, I'll NEVER get back to it.
Why can't I do that ?
I've binned 'no hopers' before this
'T'is a puzzlement!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

flashing the stash and a FO

It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who's seen the photo of the pregnant suitcase I dragged back from Tassie, that the yarn cupboard needed a bit of an overhaul in order to find room for the increase in stash due to Beryl's largesse.

While I concentrated on hauling it all out into the clear light of day,
Bear helped by squashing some of the more unruly elements into submission when they threatened to make a break for the great outdoors
After I'd recovered from the panic attack occasioned by not being able to stuff it all back into the cupboard, I did a bit of tweaking here and some squooshing there and this was the result.

By this stage I was starting to feel a bit panicked and light headed - must've been all those wooly pheromones circulating in such an enclosed space.

Anyway, some of the tubs went straight back in without inspection of the contents and I still have to relabel everything, but
that doesn't look too unreasonable, does it?

Ahh, yes

If I take out that black garbage bag full of fleece, there's a whole 'nother row behind

I may need to knock out a few things in chunky yarns to clear some space
cos if I keep on making projects like these - finished this morning - I'll never whittle it down

and for the record, sock #1 was made in April, supposedly for grandson Riley ... sock #2 was started last night after I got sick of the first one whining about being lonely. It is extremely unlikely that Riley's feet are still this small so they'll go to whoever needs 'em first.

pattern: Baby Steps from Yarn Magazine no 3
needles: 3.75mm dpns
yarn: Spotlight Basics

and yes, Nadie, that is a pack of PINK yarn in the second last photo but I'm going to dye it [ and the pack of bright yellow that is hiding behind it !!! ]

Thursday, November 06, 2008

what would you think of this for a first project ??

this is the scarf that I 'designed' recently for my planned Beginner's Crochet class over at Purl's Palace.
I wanted something suitable for a spring/summer project, that would be simple [ but not necessarily look it ] and would incorporate all the basic stitches ... I think that this is one of the strengths of crochet. While a beginner knitter would probably be condemned to endless practising of garter stitch and plain stocking /stockinette, a novice crocheter can leap straight into churning out quite reasonable lace.

The cream is made with a single ball of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and a 3.5mm hook, the blue is again a single ball, this time Rare Yarns Endare 4ply with a 3mm hook.
I made the blue one first and while I love the yarn, the slight halo and a tendency towards splittyness makes it perhaps a less than ideal choice for the first project.
Enter the Debbie Bliss which worked just fine and had the added advantage of being a lot less work because it's a slightly thicker yarn on a bigger hook.
So what I'm asking the non-crocheters amongst you is ... how does this strike you as a prospective first project?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


has been kind enough to tag me for this award
and I have to tag at least four others who then have to link back here - and so on - you all know the drill.
I almost always end up nominating the same people -and they know who they are - so I've decided to spread the joy a little further this time:
you may all consider yourselves awarded

now I know this sort of pales into insignificance when set against the goings on over in the land of the free and the home of the brave

but the blogosphere has to keep on chugging along even when momentous things are busy being momentous
so here's the current knitting:
vintage baby cardi pattern found among BJC's late mother's gear and dragged home in triumph from Tassie
needles - 3mm Kp Options and dpns
yarn - 1 ball of Patons Big Baby 4 ply [ fingering ]
the pattern was already a top down but written for knitting on straights and in separate pieces below the yoke so I've just converted it to more modern practice, to whit: back and fronts in one piece and sleeves in the round.
I've left off the lace pattern below the yoke as well ... to make it a little more boyish in keeping with the colour.

there has been quilty stuff happening as well but I'll save that for another day

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


not bad for less than two weeks old, eh?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

in which I attempt a semi coherent review of the last week or so

I've had some health issues this week - flu bug basically - which has caused the FMS to kick in big time ... net result is that I'm stumbling around in a fibro fog and posting hasn't been particularly successful. Oh, I have tried but the result was pathetic and promptly deleted

so you're getting a few unrelated points and garden photos from Tassie:

Tassie is lovely and green, what I saw of it, which wasn't much, but then I wasn't really there to do the tourist thing.

Beryl took me to every quilt and wool shop within reasonable distance of her home. I bought no yarn but came home with some nice cuts of fabric - most of which was on sale at Cranberry Crafts which is a fabulous little quilt shop at Ulverston... and they were having an up-to-70%-off sale !!!! which was timely as it allowed BJC and I to purchase some of what we needed for our sooper seekrit project for next year.We saw these glorious Waratahs over the fence of a church hall on the way home
Caught up with two ex-students who came over for lunch on the Wednesday. Always good to touch base again... Hi Gaye! Hi Dr Pat ! Hi Jelly Bean ! [ pat's new puppy ]

Got to meet fellow scquilter Cat Stone at Beryl's local quilt group which is held every Thursday night in Devonport for about two hours... far too quick. Blink and they're going home. Nice bunch of girls who are obviously more than happy to have BJC in their midst

I came home to a house that looked like a bomb site and a David that had put on nearly 2 kilos in four days - this was explained by the fact that all the veggies were still in the fridge and there was a sheaf of pizza receipts on the bench. The Carers also hadn't paid much attention to making sure he was properly dry after his shower, so the poor little beggar had scratched himself bloody and required a doctor visit for the resultant rash. This may sound as though I'm carping, but poor Dave was in a shocking state and not able to explain how he was feeling.

I may never have a holiday ever again

Oh ... and the other news at the Doctor's on Friday is that I need knee surgery - an arthroscopy to mend a torn lateral meniscus - simple stuff but can't say I'm looking forward to it.

however, to end on a brighter note ... I got to kid-sit little Lucky yesterday while Pete and Brenda went out. He had three bottles, four naps and did some socialising with Rosie and the girls.
Robbyn, true to form, tried some aggro and had to be swatted away from him but the others were cautiously friendly.
He has never had rocks to climb on before but he knew what to do! He tore straight up to this vantage point. Probably felt less threatened that way - my girlies are so much bigger than Pete's.

edited to add:
I have just had a text message from Pete and Brenda at the Goat Show to say that Blackadder came 2nd, Lucky came 3rd and in the father/son class they also came third. Not at all bad for their first effort especially as Pete and Brenda were out yesterday and so couldn't put as much effort as they might have wished into spiffying up the boys. I was hoping for a first, but hey - this is still pretty good.