Wednesday, April 29, 2009

when is a bag not a bag ?

when it gets frogged [ twice ] and reincarnates as a roll brimmed hat

meanwhile version 2 begins life as a hat and ends up as a bag
... I've done the 'cables' slightly differently on each one because they're destined to be class samples, but essentially the only difference between the tit for tat and the bag is the presence or absence of a drawstring.

You may remember that the Lyndham Scarf began life as a beginner's class project ...
oh come on ...
indulge me here folks.
I like to think that you all remember stuff like that because it's so vitally important.
Well, anyway, that was project #1 and was designed to teach all the basic crochet stitches and working flat.
This is #2 and is aimed at working in the round, increases and using front post stitches to form mock cables.

each piece took almost exactly 2 x 50 gram balls
Rare Yarns 8ply
Rare Yarns Cocoon
from Purl's Palace in Daylesford



finished [ except for weaving in the ends ] : about an hour ago, including the double rip out and redo on the rust/black one

... and just in case you're interested, it's supposed to get down to zero tonight and minus 1 in Bendigo - which is a bit odd because usually our winter weather is slightly colder than Deepest Darkest Bendigonia.
It got down to minus 1.9 as it happens and here's the first real frost of the year on yarrow leaves

Sunday, April 26, 2009

week in review

It's been an odd week
I've had a migraine on and off for most of it, thanks to a TM joint that periodically goes out of whack.
Even though I sleep with a carefully crafted $600 piece of plastic in my mouth every night, once that joint seizes up, it's just a matter of beating it back into submission with a muscle relaxant and anti-inflams and waiting the migraine out.
During the periods of pharmaceutically induced pseudo-sensibility, there has been [minimal ] housework, couch potatoing and a lot of late night reading [ Jingo, Last Continent and Carpe Jugulum, all by Terry P, currently on The Fifth Elephant ]
I finished crocheting a top that I hadn't shown you at all:
BWM 4 ply cotton in Wild Iris
made up as I went along, with a vague thought of submitting it to Yarn, but then I realised I really didn't want to have to work out multiple sizes
3mm and 3.5mm
started about three weeks ago I think - and intended to be an inch or so longer until I ran into a massive unfixable yarn-barf and decided it was long enough.

I made a couple of origami kimonos from rice paper

and added some more stamped spirals to a handmade silk paper kimono from last year.

I quite liked how it looked originally but it was a bit dark. Obviously it looks better in the frame, but it doesn't photograph well behind the glass.
You'll just have to imagine it ... wide white matt board, plain black wooden box frame courtesy of Sam's Discount Store at Kangaroo Flat.

Then there was my 3 first skeins of handspun corriedale cross discovered lurking in the spare bedroom this morning...
and dull boring fawny-grey

in other words typical beginner yarn

a quick trip through Dorothy in a hot bath of Landscape Kelp and Tarragon and this looks like something I'll use

I'm thinking a bag of some sort
possibly felted

also I
gave in and joined Facebook
didn't go to dance class all week
or choir
or quilting
or Auntie Lucy's* funeral
made good soup
dyed my hair blue
stayed in my pj's all day today
so did David

*MIL's last remaining sister, who passed away last Saturday - not someone we had much to do with but devastating for MIL. Nadie and Stephen did their bit and looked after their Nonna for me

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unscheduled quilt airing in Central Vic

Bear got excited and had an accident
just a wee one [ and you can take that anyway you like ]
so one of the [ traditional bed ] quilts got to enjoy a warm, relaxing afternoon in the carport ... out of direct sun of course ... after the excitement of a trip through the washing machine. It's like a water theme park for quilts.
Well to be entirely honest, it spent several relaxing afternoons because it wasn't dry enough to bring inside Monday night and then I forgot yesterday and it got damp again, so it stayed out there until this arvo.

specs for anyone interested:
quilt name: Cat's Claws [ there are cat / leopard labels printed on the back of the fabric yardage and I appliqued one of each design to the back of the quilt for posterity]
pattern: Buzzsaw - you make half square triangles, cut 'em all up, juggle 'em around, and sew 'em back together again. I worked it out for myself but have since seen it in several books and magazine articles.
fabric: the navy is 11 or 12 different prints of 'Sis' or 'Chwe-chwe' fabrics printed in England for the South African trade, and then exported again to Australia [ * cough, cough*carbon foot print ] It was made in 2000 and has Millenium fabric as part of the label on the back, as do each of the quilts I finished that year.
The quilting was ably done by Rhonda Coates of Windemere Quilting, Kilmore, Vic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

was there a Friday last week?

I must've blinked and missed it because I have absolutely no memory of what David and I did with the day
but I do remember Saturday:
it started with a flurry of that kind of last minute panic cleaning/tidying and cooking that one does when there are visitors about to arrive. This happens regardless of the state of cleanliness of the abode or the amount of food in the fridge.
I think it's one of the fixed and immutable laws of the universe.
"Thou shalt crash around and clean up for the visitors who love you for who and what you are and couldn't care less if the house is less than perfect "

Nadie and BFF Natalie arrived for lunch of freshly made veggie soup
mid afternoon saw the arrival of Mama Cass and Dave, and Cass' brother Brett - and fully five minutes later there was a game of UNO in progress at my kitchen table
before the coffee even!
Maybe Nadie can explain in the comments why it was necessary for them to borrow a cowboy hat-plus-cheap-plastic-tiara [ I was told a pair of bunny ears or a feather boa would do just as well, but they were up in the shed in the dressup box ]

there was dog assisted 500
and cat assisted Cluedo
there was the obligatory 2 hour barbequed PCB* on Sunday morning which was enjoyed in the sunshine of a perfect autumn morning with the addition of my friend Robyn and her DD Jessie
and then the ritual 'watching Cass and Dave throw a softball around' which I have to tell you is terribly tiring to watch.
[There was also some minor fence dismantlement and repair when it became apparent that Rosie had her head well and truly stuck and couldn't be manoeuvred out without damaging her eyes.
So a claw hammer was found, I held Rosie, Cass's Dave did the fence board removal and all was well in less than five minutes ... although she may have been stuck like that for about an hour, poor baby.]

At three I left my guests somewhat precipitously [ which is catsmum-speak for I yelled goodbye and bolted out the door ] and departed for Melbourne and a new opera ... "Rembrandt's wife" which was well sung, well cast, but very bleak and dark, and not precisely enjoyable. Although my puritan soul feels it was probably very good for me.
After that I headed out to the eastern suburbs to pick up Nadie's beloved from an abortive attempt to hand in a Uni assignment after work, and we got back home at about 9pm.

Now of course poor Chris hadn't had anything remotely resembling food, with the rushing-around-after-work and the waiting-in-the-dark-for-Catsmum, so a stop at the Maccas/KFC at Calder Park was desirable. Couldn't have him passing out from lack of nourishment y'know.

It would have been terribly unmannerly of me to make him eat alone, and it should be obvious to all and sundry that I pride myself on my good manners

... plus the fact that I hadn't had anything since my 'lunch' of a 50 cent soft serve ice cream cone at the Calder Park Maccas on the other side of the Freeway at 4pm - bought purely so that I'd have the needed gold coins in change for feeding the unmanned parking garage in Melbourne ...

which, Your Honour, is how I ended up at MacDonald's for the second time in 4 hours


that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

* proper cooked breakfast

Thursday, April 16, 2009

bits and pieces

I found a third copy of the postcard of my mother aged 2 1/2, so Nadie requested a mixed media piece of her own ... paint, paper serviettes, wet tea bag and sheet music for a nursery rhyme from a 1920s magazine. This one was on a rectangular canvas and I don't think it works quite as well as the square ones... which I find really quite strange because when it comes to my [non-bed] quilts, I almost always prefer to work in a rectangular format
While I was still on this mixed media kick, I half-remembered something I'd read years and years ago about using turpentine to make transfers from photocopies, which is obviously a better idea than using up originals.
I don't know that it would work with the modern laser or ink jet printers - although I'll certainly give it a go - but 'old fashioned' photocopiers that needed toner and so on,
I also half remembered that fresh copies were best, but all I had on hand were some fairly crappy 15 year old photocopies of some family photos.
nothing ventured and so on ...

This is the result of printing one of them onto a page torn from a Hungarian book bought at the Op Shop for 20c.
We have no family connection with Hungary. I just wanted the look of a foreign script on cheap old paper, and in the absence of something suitable in Italian, this fitted the bill rather well I thought.
The rather elegant lady is my late husband's paternal grandmother, the one responsible for my darling daughter's middle name of Antoinette.

The base is a painted canvas, and as well as Antonietta on her page, I've added some vintage lace, stencilled through paper lace serviettes, the inevitable paper serviettes, and more paint.
I rather like how this one has come out.
Things I've learnt :
working with old photocopies and turps is a bit hit and miss at best. Too much ink in the copy, or too much turps, and the whole things smears and dribbles.
Be prepared for failures but rejoice in the ones that work!

By the way this is my new patent-pending cat based yarn tensioning device:
so not impressed Mumand the overnight temp in Castlemaine last night ? 1 degree

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

baby pictures

I know that some babies are prettier than others

and sometimes the ones that start out the plainest turn out to be be absolute beauties

but at the moment, try as I might, I am really struggling to find anything positive* to say about the two newest members of my family

meet Fred and Ethel

* they do have rather beautiful spotty feathers

For the record, Fred and Ethel will only be living in this small cage [ which is really a repurposed humane fox trap] for a few weeks until they get acclimatised. After that they will be free range Guinea Fowl and will apparently roost in the trees at night out of reach of foxes.
Guinea Fowl are generally considered by them-as-should-know to be Mother Nature's best snake alarms ... a skill I would love to think will never need to be tested ... and I've been waiting about three years for this pair.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

family history

My mother was the firstborn in her family and didn't marry until the age of 30.
My father was the second youngest of a very, very large family, married at 37, and was in his 40s by the time I arrived.
I always had the oldest parents of anyone I knew
Add to that, because Dad's older sibs had married decades before he did, most of my first cousins on Dad's side of the family were well and truly married off before I came along, so I barely know them.

A very different situation exists on Mum's side of the family:

Mum's youngest sib and only brother was born when my Grandmother was in her late 40s and his oldest sisters were away serving in the WAAF,
Had his older sisters reproduced at what was considered the normal age for the time, he could easily have had nephews or nieces the same age as himself
but they didn't
so Uncle Ross first became 'Uncle Ross' at age 10, and was 11 when I was born

and my father had a brother-in-law who was precisely, to the day, 30 years his junior.

In his turn, my uncle didn't become a father until he was almost 40

All of which goes to explain why I have a gorgeous uncle who has been mistaken for my brother on occasiona first cousin who is slightly younger than one of my own children
and a second cousin whom I got to meet for the first time on Easter Sunday This is my cousin Katharine with Miss Sasha Annabelle who, although initially unsure about the caprine contingent, was quite happy to feed them her leftover pumpkin scone ... thereby making three friends for life [ Robbyn being her usual grumpy self is reserving judgement ]

Monday, April 13, 2009

random monday photos and a completely gratuitous dawg

bees working away on a beautiful red flowering gum in glowing autumn sunshine at the Kangaroo Flat Shopping Plaza.
It was a very young tree but already producing these huge heads of blossom less than a metre from the ground.
... and an even more vibrant red than my camera could capture

weathered boards outside a local quasi-medical establishment

and then there was this fabulous weathered and patinated door handle at one of the exhibitions I wrote about recently

and on another tangent entirely, with absolutely no attempt at a segue:
I realised yesterday, while showing several weeks worth of creations to Nadie, that I've been a bit remiss with the documentation of late.
I shall remedy that situation this week
I promise
there will be
mixed media
drawing and painting
visiting friends and relations
cute baby photos of Nadie-and-The Boy's brand new nephew, Billy Bob [ William Robert ]
but for now here's Bear

sitting on my work table which he has learned to climb, thereby rendering totally useless my ingrained habit of keeping all the electrical cords unplugged and [theoretically] out of his reach

Friday, April 10, 2009

Catsmum's creative space part 4

just when you thought it was all done and dusted ...

[ and that's your error right there ... dusting ... me ? ... pffft ]

there are some creative activities that are better done outside, and some consumables that I REALLY don't want inside

so my dyes and associated supplies live in this artistic arrangement of cobwebs in the carport

against the wall is one of my trestle tables [ with a couple more up the hill, in the shed, should I need them ] and under it:

a tub full of my 'genuine Japanese antique' plastic aggi pipe used for shibori and
Dorothy, my huge old dinosaur of a microwave
who thrives on an occasional diet of superheated wool products, Landscape dyes and eucalyptus leaves
If I need running water, the tap in the goat paddock is easily accessible, although sometimes I will admit to hankering after a plumbed-in sink or trough of some sort.

I could probably also claim this as an extension of my creative space:
There has been knitting and crochet activity out here from time to time
but if I'm being perfectly honest, once I get settled with a cuppa and an animal or two, I'm far more likely to sit, relax, imbibe the surroundings and just be

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I'm chook-sitting the three red headed floozies for PND and Brenda

and they [ the chooks ] have been rewarding my devoted care and attention with one beautiful fresh brown egg every day
David comes with me for the walk and then ever sooooooo carefully - almost on tiptoe - back down the hill with his precious eggy cargo

and one less item on the grocery list for the week

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Share your creative space[s] part three - the Great Wall of Fabric

Three days ago we started at one end of my house, yesterday we were in the middle, and today we've reached the other end:
- this is an 8' x 15' room with no built in cupboards, so was probably intended to be a study or office.
As I don't need either of those, it seemed the logical place to store my:

fabric [ this is the actual QUILT fabric ] there is a satellite collection of evening fabrics for crazy patchwork, and also furnishing fabrics on the opposite wall ]

bolts of batting
odds and sods [ click on the photo if you need to read the labels! ]
quilt hoops
27 years worth of quilt magazines
Also in there, but not shown, are 2 wall units that used to be in my dining room, full of finished quilts, and some pretty old UFOs - from some time in the Cretaceous period and masquerading as class samples - and a small wardrobe that belonged to BFF Beryl's mum. It's full of patterns, class notes, etc

... and a partridge in a pear tree!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

showing my creative space[s] part 2

The architect thought that this part of my house was the living room [ or lounge as we know them here in OZ ]
silly man
wrong! wrong! wrongitty, wrong!
this is my space ...
it functions as sewing room, quilt studio, classroom, and is also my main place for playing with paint and paper

the pros:
it's a good size
it's central to everywhere else in the house
it's adequately lit for most of the time
there's adequate shelving for quilt books and WIPs
and I was just able to fit in the three 4' x 4' tables from my previous studio. These were built by my late hubby and are so solid that you could set off a medium sized thermonuclear device under them and no one would notice.
I've got them arranged in a T shape with sewing machines on one [ ironing board against one side], paint and paper on one, and fabric cutting on the third. All this can be easily rearranged if needed for classes or parties.
You may have noticed that the machines and iron are unplugged and the cords are up on the table tops - I have a small canine companion who has been known to chew through cords when they are left unattended and after he did it to my lovely new Pfaff, it was either dawg-skin cap or learn to keep them out of his way.
Anyway, moving on ...
the other strength of this space? ... it's next to my main stash - which you will probably see tomorrow
there's room for a couple of couches and my spinning wheel at one end, with plenty of natural light and a gorgeous view - this is the bit that the architect fondly imagined was a dining room, bless 'im.

the cons, such as they are:
My front door [ as you can see in the photo above ] opens right into the middle of it - no entry way, just step straight in. I'm used to it now, and I have two front doors anyway, because the kitchen faces the view, which is to the front, so most people just keep on walking and come in through that door.
It has carpet - which I hate, both in a general sense and specifically. I don't care for carpet in a studio that's likely to have both paint and pins on the floor, and I especially hate THIS carpet - which the current " economic downturn" dictates I can't replace... even if I had a clear idea of what to replace it with, which I don't.

and the biggy?
No heating or cooling - that's at the end of the house that I showed you yesterday, which is probably why the rumpus room with its wood fire is the preferred place for knitting on a cool autumn evening like this one.
Still I think you'll agree that the pros far outweigh the cons, and who knows? maybe one day I will get A/C down that end.
A girl can dream!

Monday, April 06, 2009

show your creative space[s] part 1

About a week ago, I happened across a collection of links where bloggers were sharing photos of their dedicated workspaces: small and large, organised and ... umm ... not

and of course, now I can't find it again [ and there was a Mr Linky and everything ]

but I've decided to share anyway

... which is the biggest joke of all, because I don't have a dedicated workspace anymore, so much as I have most of a house.

So over the next couple of posts, I thought I'd show you my various 'creative spaces' and also my storage areas, which in this house is not at all the same thing ... and yeah, I know that all the how-to books advocate storing the stuff where you'll be most likely to use it but my house my rules which pretty much translates to: I stick it where it fits.

you're all most welcome to come on a cyber-visit Chez Catsmum
just so long as one thing is perfectly clear:

do not expect perfect housekeeperliness. This is a house with cats, dog, dust and occasional goat hair!
I'm a firm believer in that saying about dull women having immaculate houses, and I try very hard not to be a dull woman

so I haven't tidied up for you ... much ... and this really is how it looks for most of the year when not submerged under the Christmas explosion
Organisation of a sort ... yes ... clean? ... mostly ... but tidy? ... not in THIS lifetime, kiddo!

so with that disclaimer out of the way, we'll start at the rumpus room end of the house:

this is where most of the knitting, crochet and sometimes spinning, happens. Also vegging out in front of the tv and general reading of a craft related nature
The couch:and I left the protection-from-resident-animals-upside-down-quilt in place for artistic verisimilitude.
There are two wicker baskets and a large hat box under the coffee table which hold WIPs, UFOs, my sets of KP Options and Harmony circs and general knitting paraphenalia, including all that stuff like stitch markers, sheepie tape measure, needle gauge, sewing needles, scissors, needle protectors, stitch holders and a notepad.
My other needles live in a rusty blue and white tin beside the tv, and the crochet hooks are in a beautiful little paper covered Japanese tea canister - also blue - over on the dvd unit.
Also in the DVD unit are my knitting/crochet pattern collections, magazines and books [ curtains normally closed ]There are severely herniated binders for the vintage baby patterns by company and in more or less date order, and the patterns printed from the internet are also divided into categories for baby hats, bootees, socks, etc, then baby sweaters and jackets, women's wear, accessories and novelties, toys, technical articles. The sock patterns recently graduated to their own binder.
The yarn stash lives around the corner in the spare, spare bedroom which it shares with MissC. The Roberta electric spinning wheel and drum carder - recently arrived from Tassie with Beryl - are still floating around in there, trying to find their proper home. The yarn lives in the cupboard, spinning fibre up the top and that's a double row of shelving and tubs in there folks. I have very very deep wardrobes and like I said before organised does not necessarily equal neat

and if anyone finds that site with the linky to everyone else's spaces, you will let me know, right ?