Saturday, December 26, 2009

Out of action, and gratuitous cat photos

Hi all, Nadie here.

Just a quick note to let you know mum's computer is out of action for the foreseeable future. The monitor decided to die while we were up there for Christmas and we had to bring the whole set up down to Melbourne to ascertain whether it was the 'puter itself or the monitor. On the plus side at least it did happen while we where there, which will cut down on the time it takes to get it all back up and running!

In the meantime here are some unimpressed decorated animals for your amusement. Don't worry, they were not forced to endure this humiliation longer than it took to take the photos, and they all know by now that this is the natural consequence of staying still more than 5 minutes in chez catsmum at this time of year.

My girls, once prised out from under assorted beds to travel there and back, settled in well. Sumi has declared that next time she wants alternative travel arrangements.

Hope you had a great Christmas!
x Nadie

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'T'was the night before Christmas ...

I have accepted - albeit without much in the way of good grace - that there was little point to putting up the usual complement of Christmas trees - so I am making do with the small one already in my bedroom and the wooden Balinese one in the rumpus room ...
but that doesn't mean that I am admitting defeat in the decorating stakes.

This morning The Boy [ DD's fiance ] helped me drag the last 'kitchen' box and the three 'rumpus room' boxes down from the shed and within an hour or so, that end of the house was transformed:

a sackful of santas [ or would that be a 'Ho-Ho-Ho' of santas ? ]

a hug of bears

a flock of sheep [ with one caprine ring-in and a stray reindeer]

a patchwork table runner [ designed as an end-of-year project for a class some years ago ]

can you spot the kookaburra-with- santa-hat ?
and it may be a bit hard to see because of the angle, but there's a matching echidna just to the left of the angel plate - and that stitchery at the back? it says ' even our cats believe in Santa '

but 't'is late and Santa's on his way, so, in the words of the classic poem, may I wish you ...
A Merry Christmas to all
and to all a good night

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Better Late than Never

Yesterday was forecast to be as hot as Hades. Today was going to be hotter than Hades,
So when did the A/C guys turn up to spend two days climbing around inside my roof? Yes, 8.30 yesterday morning !
Bear was thrilled: so many people to bark at hysterically

The temperature inside the tin roof was probably around 50C for much of the day [ 120 something F ] - well it would have to have been because it got to over 40C outside today and I guess we all know what tin roofs are like - but the installers had procrastinated so many times that they had run out of options, and someone higher up the chain of command had decreed that it was going to be done by Christmas, come hell or high water.

Of course all this work entailed the power [ and therefore the fans which, ineffective though they might be, are normally marginally better than nothing ] being shut off for most of yesterday.
It was 'orrible
and last night offered little in the way of relief because the house had heated up to the point where it just wasn't going to cool down
and did I care ?
well ... honestly ... yes,
but not as much as I would have normally
because today would see the end of days like that

Nadie and Chris and the Grandkittens arrived for the holidays at about 1.30

by 2.30pm the guys were getting ready to go and the coooooooooooooooool was on!

umm mostly

they will need to come back because one of the fan units was faulty [ which they know about ] and also - and a totally separate issue - the airflow to 2 of the bedrooms is minimal [ which they don't know about, but will fix if they expect to get paid ]

Barring some major tinkering with time-and-space [ where's The Doctor when you need him? ] it would be a physical impossibility to do 10 days worth of seasonal decorating in the one day left before Christmas
but I gave it a seriously good try:
Let the celebrating commence!

Monday, December 21, 2009

no they're not here yet

the A/C guys didn't turn up again, even though I was assured at 9 am that it was happening today - embarrassed phone call from the poor harassed girl in the office at 1 pm to confirm what I'd already managed to work out: They weren't coming.
What a surprise.
Ahh well, I guess , in the grand scheme of things, my undecorated-for-Christmas house is not the end of the world [ but it certainly doesn't feel very much like Christmas ]

Yesterday, being grandson's third berfday, David and I spent what seemed like half the day in the car, driving down to Melbourne, picking up MIL, and then out to Berwick.[ almost a three hour trip each way once you factor in picking up Grandma ]
The 'Not-going-to much-trouble-because pregnant-DIL is-so-exhausted-so-just-grandparents-Dave-and-Nadie' had morphed into 'everyone we ever knew and their kids'

net result: one totally over-stimulated little man who wouldn't come near me or his carefully thought out presents

So basically a very long day - and especially so for Bear who spent it shut in La Casa Caprine, aka the goat shed ... without goats ... which was infinitely preferable to him being inside for 8 hours without a loo break but not much fun

Edited to add:
late breaking news!!
Dateline: Tuesday December 22, 8.30 am - they're here, they're here !!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fabulous Friday [ Christmas ] Fotos

Well, I did finally get that celebratory coffee - except it wasn't a coffee at all, but rather a Dragon [ chilli-flavoured ] Chai - when I met Marcie and Jeanette at the Coffee Bean this morning, and a nice time was had by all. Strangely enough, given that all three of us are quilters, I don't recall there being any quilty conversation, other than a mention of the quilt group's Christmas GTG last weekeend, that both Jeanette and I missed. I know we talked about blogging and family and Christmas and my birthday or lack thereof, and yes, okay, I will admit to a certain amount of cursing the A/C installers who theoretically are arriving at 8am Monday

... anyway, moving on to today's visual component: some more images of the decos in my bedroom, seeing it's the only bit properly decorated.

Saint Nick with his patchwork cloak which you totally can't see so you have to take my word for it that he's wearing an outfit pieced together from many different cream fabrics,

and assorted cream angels - heavy on the lace and vintage buttons

now this particular angel, with the fine embroidery on satin, I didn't make. She was a gift from my friend Peggy, and all the more precious because Peg passed away some years ago

you can also see the vintage/antique ivory stiletto and the tiny quilt stencil that I bought in Paducah, KY, in 1996. I also have an even tinier version of it ... somewhere ... which is only about an inch high and therefore very easily misplaced

... old knitting gauges, mercury glass, pewter angels, and a garland made of vintage-style buttons

AND finally:
this wonderful icicle which is all of ten inches long

my Christmas present from Jeanette. For now it's hanging from the light fitting in my room but I suspect it will move into the Big Room next year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

an emotionally charged day

Ask almost anyone with a birthday that falls in December, and they'll probably have a few words to say about the general unfairness of birthdays near Christmas - overlooked, barely acknowledged, or missed entirely
[ Marc's most famous effort was to completely forget my 30th birthday - which meant that the kids did too - and he was only reminded that evening when we went to a Christmas party and someone wished me many happy returns ! ]
In my case it gets a little more complicated because my beloved of 25 years passed away on my natal day in 1999

... which means that people are often unsure how to handle the day, and to be perfectly honest, I'm unsure how to handle the day a lot of the time. Most years I do manage to still feel as though it's my birthday but it's never completely without some shadows, and self-evidently, I do still feel a compelling need to mention it.

and that was yesterday

it was - for the most part - not a particularly good day this year. Usually I can count on a friend or two to meet me for a coffee, or lunch or some such but everyone was working [ and yes, Marcie, I know I should've rung you ]
There were no early morning phone calls
... and it was bloody HOT: 40C / 104F [ feel free to insert rude thoughts about those A/C guys here ]

What kept me going was
a] some retail therapy in the form of a floaty purple sundress
b] the prospect of a Christmas BBQ pool party for dinner - and a good sing - with the other members of the Peace Choir. I'd promised that Dave and I would be there, so that was where we went.
and somewhat predictably
It was just what was needed:
truly fabulous and eclectic house set on a heavily treed and very private bush block within 3 minutes of the town centre
great company [ Albert under the hat, Jacinta, Robyn and Marlene ]
good food
good music[ Jane and James ]

and we only managed to prise David out of the pool with the promise of chargrilled bits of cow!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I got tired of waiting

... for the workmen who will be creating messes all over my house when they finally deign to arrive, and decided to go ahead [ as per the rant yesterday ] and decorate my bedroom, albeit 3 or 4 weeks later than usual.
If I have to dust, wipe, polish and vacuum after they've left, well, so be it. It is after all, a very small room and making a start has made me feel a lot happier.
Not so much grumbling today even though it was 32 degrees [ around 90F ] and A/C would've been welcome ... [ Okay. So there was a little bit of grumbling. I have the normal complement of human frailties ]

cream bedding changed for more seasonal burgundy [ although cream works just fine too ]

wooden shabby chic angels floating from the netting which has a new burgundy wreath. I just whacked it straight on top of the old wreath which was looking a bit faded and having the two of them up there makes a stronger statement.
We will try to ignore the occasional cracked fragments of burgundy pearlescent coating which fall off the old one and land on the pillows!

The usual stuff on top of the cedar tallboy has been added to, with a Victorian-style angel, a 'crystal' beaded garland and decorated twigs in an Edwardian crystal bottle, and a couple of very cheap and cheerful trees at the back.
The garland of glass 'bobs' hanging from the drawer was a pressie from Maz a couple of years back

In the opposite corner is my tree - usually the smallest one of many but currently the only one up - crystal, glass, silver and pearl mainly.
I still haven't added the usual collection of silver knitting gauges and ivory needle cases and scissors and such - mainly because they actually do get used and so aren't stored with the Christmas stuff - although there is one tiny pair of silver scissors in there somewhere.

Under the tree, sitting on a piece of vintage crazy patchwork that you can barely see because there's so much stuff on it , are assorted calico [ muslin ] angels and a Victorian Saint Nick in a patchwork coat.
I'll try for a better photo tomorrow.

This year's new additions are the acrylic NOEL, PEACE, and JOY, a gift from my darling daughter when I was recuperating from the recent surgeries:

Like a lot of my favourite special pieces, these came from Stocks in Castlemaine.

I can highly recommend it as a source of good quality Christmas thingies that are just a little different.
They aren't cheap by any means but I've got to the stage , decorations-wise, where a couple of good pieces a year makes more sense than a huge box of cheap baubles. [ which is not to say that I don't have them too, just that I don't need any more ]

Nadie also bought me the gorgeous little ' night before Christmas' box a couple of years ago ... during the year it houses the decorations for this particular tree
you should probably take notice of the plaid bow on the cat statue.
I say this every year but it bears repeating: if it sits still for more than 5 minutes, tie a Christmas bow on it! This applies to cats [ real as well as ornamental ] dawgs, chairs, light fittings, goats and visitors if they're over 6' tall !

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can I have a whine with that?

the A/C guys didn't arrive today
huge surprise
They DID at least have the decency to ring - after lunch - and are now coming Monday next week ... sometime ... maybe
A handfull of days before Christmas ?
I'm not at all sure that I believe them, and I'm feeling more than a bit put upon as it's supposed to be hot later this week and functioning a/c would've been nice
... and of course I put off the Chrissie decorating because they were coming 3 weeks ago , 2 weeks ago, last week. today ... hardly seems worth bothering now

grump grump grump
grizzle whinge

oh blow the lot of 'em
I'm going to decorate my bedroom ... now ... and they can just cope with it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ending on a High ... Note

It has to be said that my day started on a definite low note when Bear chose to wake me up at the positively ungodly hour of 5am.
The method chosen for this early morning wake-up call was novel to say the least:
He threw up all over my bed - quilt, pillows, sheets, the lot - and then on the carpet beside the bed.
Not a sound that you really want to hear at any time but somehow worse on the downside of dawn.
He had obviously been eating the dry cat food. The reddish brown cat food.
... which was now on my pale pink and green handmade quilt !

I am not at my best at 5am

I will admit to thinking some less than sweet thoughts about my furry little buddy's antecedents [ and you have to admit he is a son-of-a-bitch ]
Cut to some hours later, by which time I had washed the bedding - two loads - and hung it to dry. Care to guess how much my quilt weighs dripping wet ? and it became apparent that the A/C guys were no show. Again.

Bugger that for a joke

I refused to spend the day waiting for guys that were not going to arrive, so I jumped in the car and headed for deepest darkest Bendigonia [ or Spendigo as 't'is also known ] and suddenly my day was looking a lot brighter.
First stop Bunnings [ big box hardware store ]
Always good
Then on to Long Gully and some fabric acquisition at Honeysuckle Patchwork.
Next, round to visit my friend - and fabulous longarm quilter par excellence - Jodi Abel, and to collect one of my quilts ready to be bound.

I did turn the car for home at this point ... truly I did ... but it is an unfortunate fact that, to get from Jodi's place back onto the road to Castlemaine, one needs must pass within a block of the Bendigo Woollen Mills and its magic back room of super special discounted yarn.

I'm afraid those woolly pheromones seaped out onto the Highway and ambushed me.

so: fabric, yarn, and a trip to the Hardware store ... all good.

and tonight?
David and I in company with the rest of the Peace Choir and many other wonderful singers, have just spent the last three hours, singing, listening, reflecting and eating at the Peace Concert for Christmas.

My day, that began so inauspiciously, has ended on the highest of high notes

and once I upload the photos, I'll tell you all about it, in slow and excruciating detail, on the morrow.

and the A/C guys are - maybe - coming on Monday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In which all shall be revealed ...

There were some very inventive guesses as to what the mystery knitting might be ...

a Christmas dog sweater
a Christmas bauble storage receptacle

[ do these people know me or what ? ]

but I have to confess the answer is much more mundane

and the trick is to imagine the photo from yesterday upside down, because that's the way this particular article is constructed
so that cast-on edge that was at the bottom of the photo is now at the top [ and has been folded in half and seamed ]

still no wiser ?

does this offer any clues ?

and does the colour perhaps offer any insights ?

yes folks! this is my ever so subtle way of telling you all that
#1 son and his lovely wife have just found out that The Jellybean is going to be a little brother for Master Riley
[ and you thought that The Big Reveal was only going to be about the knitting? ]

yeah, well actually, that's about it, because there's no scan photo to share, so I suppose the knitting specs will just have to do :]

Easy Baby Cardigan by Pure and Simple - it's a freebie
Sirdar Snuggly Fair Isle DK from the stash - less than 2 balls
4.5mm KP Options and dpns

and there's still no sign of the A/C guys :[

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Anyone care to guess ?

... what this rather oddly shaped piece of current knitting might be ?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Still waiting...

The Aircon guys are supposed to be coming at the end of this week - either Thursday or Friday. I'm keeping fingers crossed for Thursday because that means they'll be finished and gone by the weekend.
and so the feeling of being in limbo continues

It feels so disconcerting to be this far into December and the the 'ol homestead is still not wearing its Christmas finery.

I couldn't completely resist the season though:

as of December 1st, we are eating from my cheap and cheery Christmas china

and drinking our coffee from some of my extensive collection of Christmas mugs [ with, of course, the puppy coasters that I bought when I couldn't find any cat ones ]

and all the teas and coffees have made the transition into the festive tins that I've gleaned over the years from various garage sales and op shops

and in the category of " what I'm loving" would be the solar powered Christmas lights that I found in a local discount store
so I can be lit up and eco friendly

and finally
a big happy birthday wish to my gorgeous future son-in-law, The Boy

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Just like Pringles!

You just can't stop at one

I actually had to restrain myself from casting on for a fourth one as soon as this was finished !!
Seamless Baby Kimono in Sirdar Snuggly DK [ indigo ] in the 3 months size
4.5mm needles
pretty much the same mods as the cream one

it looks a little greyish on my monitor but is actually a gorgeous denim blue

Monday, November 30, 2009

'T'is [ almost ] the Season ...

December will be upon us in just a few short hours, and it has been pointed out that I have not as yet given any evidence of the usual descent into Christmas Craziness a la Catsmum.

This is so extraordinary as to have occasioned alarm amongst the general populace - or at least those who know me well - so I thought that I'd better 'splain quicksmart:

On the day that I began the prep for this year's 'Explosion at the North Pole' [ as someone who shall remain nameless described my house during the last festive season ] I only got as far as doing some pre-emptive dusting / polishing and putting out the Nativity sets when I received confirmation that workmen will be arriving next week [ I hope ] to install the new A/C. This will include the sawing of numerous holes in the plaster ceiling and ...
Plaster dust over absolutely everything.

and I don't even want to contemplate what hordes of blokes in workboots might do to all the strategically placed festiveness

hard as it is to believe, I'll be waiting until they've gone and until I've cleaned up and by then who knows how close to Christmas it will be and how much decorating can be done.

However, if you are brave of heart, possessing nerves of steel and an iron constitution, you can check out last year's effort here

Friday, November 27, 2009

Now before anyone jumps to any conclusions ...

I actually thought rather long and hard about whether I was even going to show you a particular piece of this week's knitting.
and not because it's some hideous freakish failure for which I would be forever derided, laughed at and shunned by all right thinking individuals ...
It's just the colour
You see, it's pink
very very pink
and very very small
and given that some of you are aware that I'm going to be a grandmother again in June, I could just see certain people jumping to all manner of conclusions

The article in question is, in point of fact, not for my grandbaby-to-be-who's-sex-is-still-undetermined.

I just felt like trying out a variation on one of Jackie Kelly's versatile and cute seamless baby kimonos [ link to specific pattern at the end of the post ] and here it is
ta da!

I added a garter neckband and front bands and it was fine, but I felt that I could've done with a smoother transition from the neck to the front bands:

so then I made another in cream [ which probably will be for the grandbaby ] and shaped the neckband a little differently and I'm happier with this iteration.

both versions were made in Sirdar Snuggly DK in the 3 month size, but the pink was on 4mm needles and the white on 4.5mm so it's slightly bigger. I think that I actually prefer the slightly looser fabric of the larger one, but you can see that there's not really a huge difference in size:

Either way it's a very easy and enjoyable knit
Lots of plain stocking stitch [ or garter for that matter ] can be awfully boring to knit unless there's clever shaping to keep you interested. This pattern has just that ... very clever engineering, no seams, and the potential to play with endless variations.

You can find a free version of the 3 month size HERE
or you can download a paid version with multiple sizes from Jackie's site.