Monday, August 31, 2009

Farewell Old Man Winter

Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness! **

Yes, by the way we strange Australians keep track of the seasons, Spring does indeed start tomorrow.

There's been a lot of this strange wet stuff falling from the heavens recently and those whose memories can stretch back far enough that they are able to remember life before the drought [ ie more than a decade and a half ] seem to think that it might be something called 'rain' ... well, whatever the heck it is, the garden likes it.

**~Thomas Blackburn

and no, I didn't forget that I promised a different species of post today but I'm just so happy to be heading into Spring that I thought you might forgive a small detour :]

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I'm without the 'puter for the better part of two weeks and naturally that whole period is jam packed with stuff that would normally get blogged about and a whole slew of fabulous photo opportunities [ like this one of Bear trying to hide from the Weasleys ***]

and now too much time has passed and there's just too too much of it to chronicle in any great detail, so rather than risk being responsible for mass brain implosions, I've had to make the choice to just hit you with the edited version ... which is plenty big enough even in its pared back state:

Two weekends ago there was a flying trip to Melbourne for Victorian Opera's production of Xerxes [ brilliant], DIL's big berfday and a side order of grandson cuddling [ and I think I might hit you with that set of photos in the next post ] followed by quite possibly the most appalling drive back that I have ever experienced weatherwise.

Then Friday a week ago, Nadie came up from Melbourne to keep David company on Saturday, while I was otherwise engaged teaching a group of lovely ladies how to make fabric-origami happy coats [ like kimono but shorter ] over at their B & B in Daylesford:

Before that happened though, we [ Nadie and I ] indulged ourselves with some baby goat snuzzling when Pete-and-Brenda popped by on their way to have the newest crop of babies de-horned.
This is my gorgeous daughter with Ms Evie, the smallest of the girls

and a box full of bucks -

that's Mitchell on the left and Cameron. These triplets have the same daddy as my Ruby and Rowan. Val and Olivia you've already met, and they looked much the same as here, just a wee bit more robust

ETA: since I wrote this post Pete-and-Brenda have delivered a set of quads - goats not humans - and though they sadly lost the only girl who was incredibly tiny, the three little bucks survived [ James, Lachie and Nathan, named for the grandsons as are Cam and Mitchell ]

On the creative front, Nadie and I both made use of my lino cutting tools ... and proving that my DD is just as tuned into Japanese iconography as her Mama ...

she didn't get to see the results immediately, but on Thursday this week I did a print run using the fabulous orange-and-gold offering paper from Lisette ...
and this was mine:

The only drawback of using this stuff is that the printing ink is so very dense and tacky that it peels the gold leaf surface right of the paper in unpredictable ways. Still there were enough sucessful tries to make it worthwhile.
Thankyou Lisette m'dear - you send the BEST stuff!

There was also a silk paper kimono class at Bendy - this is one of a pair made by Jodi Abel

In addition to all of the above there has been crocheting, the celebration of a friend's 70th berfday at quilting, another flying visit from Nadie, and now Chris-and-Maz are up for 4 days, having been not-up-here since flipping January 2008!!!!!!!

of course, we're heading into Spring so there'll be a garden update sometime soon

*** who used to be Fred-and-George but when they went missing for the better part of 8 months, I 'recycled' Fred's name onto Ethel's deceased beloved, the other Fred. So Fred-and-Gearge, so named for Fred and George Weasley in the HP books, will now and henceforth be simply known as The Weasleys

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Technical difficulties - please stand by.

Hi all,

Just a quick note to let you know mum is computer-less for the time being. Said computer has, after a 155km drive to visit it's technician (AKA the boy), decided that all it needed was a change of scenery. I'll return the little scamp to mum ASAP, but until then you'll just have to sit tight.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Club

Over on Ravelry, I've been keeping a list of books read in 2009 ... something that I always have the best of intentions of doing, and something that just never happens.
Until this year
My aim was to read an average of one book per week not counting pattern books, rounded down to 50 for the whole year
I haven't quite reached that target yet, what with it only being August and all, but still have made a sizeable dint in it, so here's the list to date:

Goal - 50 books


Dead Beat: Jim Butcher
White Knight: JB
Proven Guilty JB
Witches Abroad: TP
Lords and Ladies: TP
A Stroke of Midnight: Laurell K Hamilton
Mistral’s Kiss: LKH
A Touch of Frost: LKH
Danse Macabre - LKH
The Harlequin - LKH
Blood Noir - LKH
Micah and Strange Candy - LKH
Interesting Times - TP

February( sorta lost the plot a bit )

The cat Who Moved A Mountain - L.J.Braun
Image to Stitch - Maggie Grey
Rhapsody - Elizabeth Haydon [ disappointing ]

Hogfather -TP
Small Favour - JB
The Decorated Page - Diehl
The Decorated Journal - Diehl


Maskerade - Pratchett
Feet of Clay - Pratchett

Jingo - Pratchett
Last Continent - Pratchett
Fifth Elephant - Pratchett

The Truth - Terry Pratchett
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Thief of Time - TP
Night Watch - TP book #30 for the year
Monstrous Regiment - TP

Going Postal - TP
Thud - TP
Free range Knitter - Yarn Harlot
Making Money - TP
Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl and the eternity Code
Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident

Prospero’s Children - Jan Siegel
The Colour of Money - TP ( reread) Book #40 for the year
The Light Fantastic - TP ( reread)

Reaper Man - TP ( reread )
My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell ( reread after a VERY, VERY long time )
Beasts In my Belfry - Gerald Durrell
Earthly Delights - Kerry Greenwood ( rereread )
Heavenly Pleasures - Kerry Greenwood ( reread )
Devil’s Food - Kerry Greenwood ( reread )

so a grand total thus far of 47 books ... and ... okay ... a lot of 'em are hardly great literature but so what?
I've enjoyed them
and as it's still winter - and as I don't like posts without pretty piccies - here's a gratuitous Helleborus

Monday, August 17, 2009

There are no emus at Emu Creek

The weekend was event filled and there's plenty of Blogfodder to be sifted through, but I suppose I really should keep my promises and show you the rest of the animal photos from Friday's visit to Pete and Brenda's new place at Emu Creek.

First up [ and especially for April ] the two new Saanan girls. They're very much shorter in the leg than my elegant Rosie but still very sweet, don't you think?
These girls will be prolific milkers when their turn comes.

Then Brenda holding the newest of the Damara x Dorper lambs. The minute he was put down on terra-firma, his Mum herded him into the corner and sniffed him all over to make sure that we two-leggers hadn't harmed him in any way. If you go back to Friday's post you can actually see him hiding behind mum in the far back left corner.

His brothers and sisters [ and cousins ] were all far more interested in the fresh hay that Brenda had strewn at my feet. I think the general idea was to help me get some good pictures but all I could see was the tops of their heads as they howed in.
Then we went out to see the boys
That's Lucky on the right and new-boy Chester ... He was rescued from Shepparton and was even thinner than this when he arrived. At the moment the poor thing has a coat like straw and almost no hair on the back of his neck from being left on a chain all day long in a too tight collar. You really have to wonder how anyone can abuse an animal like this - and Chester has an impeccable pedigree, so even if they had not a shred of compassion, you'd think simple economics would have persuaded them to look after a big-ticket investment.
Don't fret though. Soon Pete and Brenda will have him looking as shiny and healthy as "little" Lucky before he starts earning his keep with stud duties [ ain't life tough?]

Bear [ long hair, at the front] spent some quality family time with his mum [ the little white one ] and litter sister Molly, while Brenda and I hiked over to check on Mama Black Swan who is egg-sitting in the bullrushes in the middle of the dam. The pic was taken from about 50 feet away so's not to disturb her or to draw the ire of Daddy Swan who was on the same bank as us and quite capable of inflicting injury if we gave him cause.
Mama Swan declined to be interviewed for the blog and attempted to hide behind a screen of vegetation

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fotos WARNING! WARNING!! Cute baby animals ahead:

We're heading towards Spring here in the Antipodes, and we all know what the advent of Spring brings with it, don't we ?
...apart from Hay fever
lots and lots of cute newborn animals.

Lately it seems like every time I go anywhere in the car, I'm besieged on all sides by gambolling lambs and leggy calves.
I wonder if there's a limit to how much sweetness I can cope with before I lapse into a coma :]

Anyway, today Mr Bear and I went out to Emu Creek to visit Pete and Brenda, our former [ and much missed ] next-door-neighbours, and Bear's Mama Misty and litter-mate Molly.
Since moving onto larger acreage, there's been a flurry of animal acquisitions at Capricorn Cottage, and some of them were bought already in lamb/kid to expand the gene pool.

These are the Damara Ewes - probably the goatiest looking sheep on the planet [ and note the dreadlocks of matted fleece-a-la-Buffalo. These girls shed, so they don't get shorn. Unfortunately the resulting matted felted locks are totally useless for spinning ]
They were bought already in lamb to Dorper rams - another self-shedding breed - and the resultant lambies are just the cutest things.
Then three days ago one of the new nubian does gave birth to Ms Olivia.
and her slightly-smaller-sister Valerie

They have ears that are a good two inches longer than their faces and extremely prominent buck teeth - something that I'm beginning to realise must be a nubian characteristic
The babies are currently bedded down in the kitchen, and being bottle fed three hourly. I think that's Olivia to the top of the photo.

One of the original does, Ms Scarlett, was showing signs of an imminent delivery but the obtuse little bugger was determined not to do it while I was there,
Ah well. I guess that means I'll just have to go back for another visit. Gee, life's tough isn't it?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ethel's Identity Crisis

It appears that I have a new addition to my goat herd.
She is a very small black and white goat
... with feathers

Yes m'dears, since poor Fred's presumed demise at the hands ... err ... paws ... of Mr Fox, Ms Ethel-the-Bereaved has decided that she is now, in point of fact, a member of the genus Capra Hircus, and as such she spends a large portion of her time bonding with the caprine contingent.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Finis Coronat Opus

Back at the Start of July, I showed you a brief hint of a baby top that I was making 'just cos' and I realised today that I didn't ever get around to documenting any further progress. For all you know, it's still languishing in that same, sad, half-finished state at the bottom of one of the knitting baskets.
As it happens, if you thought that, you'd be wrong.
Okay, it did hide in there for a while after it was technically finished, mainly because [ and here I have a completely startling and barely believable confession to make ] ... I have developed procrastination into a fine art when it comes to the final details like sewing in ends and attaching buttons.
Please believe me ... this one has been finished finished [ as opposed to finished-except-for-the-buttons finished] for several weeks. Roollytroolly it has.
I just forgot about it until I noticed that the photo on my Ravelry projects page was still sans buttons.
vintage french Mon Tricot from the late 70s, newborn size
3.75mm KnitPicks harmony
Sirdar Snuggly 4ply [ fingering ] - 1 skein
modifications : same as the last time - a couple of extra pattern repeats in the arms and the body. I was going to say 'front' but as it can button to the back as sweater, or to the front as cardi, 'front' as a bit imprecise. I see it as having the buttons down the back.
moving on, there's this one which I actually made last October but again, failed to document:

vintage Patons & Baldwins Australia - probably 1940s - belonging to BFF Beryl's late Mum. Can anyone help with which booklet it came from ? The garment is identified as Jade.
Of course I've made some mods. I changed it to topdown, in-one-piece construction and simplified the skirt portion which was originally the same lace pattern as the yoke.

Basically the only clue I have for any archivist/sleuths is that pattern name: Jade, and it must be a fairly obscure booklet if I don't have it. Anyone ???
Patons Big Baby 4ply
KP Harmony 3mm

and then this one that you also didn't get to see in-progress although it's much more recent:

started last Tuesday and finished this morning ... and please take note : buttons!!!!
BWM 4ply baby wool in what was then the colour Flame but with the rebranding of that yarn as Luxury, is now presumably Sunrise
3.5mm and 3.25mm
- body knit on the 3.5mm KP Harmonies, but when I had to switch to dpns for the sleeves, of course I didn't have any 3.5mm because that size doesn't exist in our system.
I had to decide whether to go up to 3.75mm or down. I opted for down, deliberately tried to knit a bit looser than normal, and maybe I'm fooling myself but I don't think you can't really see any difference in gauge. Please tell me you can't. Pretty please?

Note to self: get some 3.5mm dpns at some point.
improvised by yours truly, although it ended up looking very similar to Helena.
Of course there are some differences. This one's in much finer yarn on smaller needles, different edge treatment , no garter ridge at the bottom of the yoke and no ties, but for all that, very much in the same vein. I guess with the popularity of topdown construction and the finite number of stitches in pattern dictionaries, this is bound to happen some of the time.

... and I was going to round this off with a dissertation on the current rather parlous state of my innards but after further consideration I've deleted what I wrote in the interests of keeping some of you as friends. I'll confine myself to pointing out that sensitivities to newly prescribed medications are rarely pleasant.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Giveaway [ if you're quick ]

My dear friend Ozjane alerted me to this giveaway over on Faithful Quilter. You have until Monday to enter so head on over

Friday, August 07, 2009

More Ida Mary

Nothing bloggable happened today, so I thought that you might like to see some more of my rescued treasure.

... and it's not even that I was in the right place at the right time ... these were destined for the rubbish bin at the Op Shop because 'no one [ else ] would possibly want them' and they were only saved because the 'sorter-outer' knew that I was after old sheet music to chop up and paint over
It just has to make you wonder what other treasures get binned ... and I have to think that if they hadn't been caught up in a much larger lot of sheet music, that they probably would never have even made it as far as being donated.Let's face it.
Most people would [ sensibly ] just toss this lot without a second thought.

Some of the ones containing aboriginal themes are both terribly 'twee' and completely politically incorrect in the 21st century, but in 1913 it was common, fashionable even, for white artists to appropriate indigenous material, and I don't imagine anyone gave it a second thought ... except perhaps the people whose cultural heritage was being plundered, homogenised, and recycled for sale to White Australia... and no one bothered asking them what they thought of it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A veritable treasure

Tuesday and Thursday are my 'best' days for raiding the Salvation Army Op Shop because those are the days that Gaye is on the job.
Gaye has sussed out my penchant for ratting through tatty old sheet music in search of suitable pieces to cannibalise for my mixed media efforts, and now she puts likely candidates aside for me. If they are particularly ratty and incomplete ... an odd page here or there ... they cost me the grand sum of 20c or so.

but today was the prize!

There was a small pile of early 2oth century sheet music waiting for me
all clearly of no use to anyone else so I got the lot for 50 cents
and look what I found
an incomplete copy of what is fairly obviously an aussie children's songbook. There's no cover or title page but a wee bit of internet sleuthing has confirmed that what I have is
Annie and Ida Rentoul's More Australian Songs for Young and Old [1913] with Ida's delicate, whimsical black and white illustrations.
You'll really want to click to enlarge these so that you can see the fine detail:
the little koala in the bottom right corner of this one
the possum outside the window in this

The more pedestrian stuff can be hacked up and recycled as art but

all that remains of this wee book is going to be preserved [ and because most of it's already come apart into single sheets, these are so going to be framed! ]

Sunday, August 02, 2009

another week whooshes past

It's been another week of ups and downs and I'm feeling too migrainey to even try to make a coherent post out of it all so you're getting it in Sheepie's world famous WNBPP form:

- Saturday saw Nadie arrive about lunchtime, committed to a turn of David-minding so that I could go to the opera in Melbourne with Corrie. Later that afternoon I duly conveyed myself to the railway station armed with some Terry Pratchett to pass the 2 hour trip. As is always the way of such things, because I had alternate entertainment, I naturally met up with a dance friend and spent the whole trip catching up.
A change of train for a brief ride through the loop and an equally brief walk across the Yarra saw me to the Arts Centre and the Playbox Theatre for a delightful performance of Ariadne Auf Naxos.
I was quite sanguine about for missing the 10.15 train and therefore arriving home in Castlemaine sometime after 1 am but Corrie's hubby was having none of that. He leaped to his feet the second the opera finished, pausing not for the traditional applause, and sprinted to the carpark, trailing we smaller females in his wake ... being somewhere around 6'5" does have its advantages when it comes to parting crowds ... and zipped across town to Southern Cross with all the elan of a Formula 1 master. When his forward progress was halted near the station by a million gazillion footy fans, I sprinted across two sets of lights and the station forecourt and threw myself into the train [ which had fortuitously been delayed for the footy hordes ] with about a minute to spare.

- Monday: Nadie rose at an unnaturally early hour and suitably fortified, we dropped David off and headed to Bendy for the morning session of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Best movie in the series so far in terms of cinematography and special effects, and I had no quibbles about the inclusions/exclusions from the book.
Down side of the day was scraping the bottom of Nadie's low-slung car on the dirt road which was in the process of being regraded. After a rather fraught drive to Bendy in which every creak and clunk was magnified into imminent disaster, and to ease the maternal mind [ given the 2 hour freeway drive ahead of her ] we visited my friendly mechanic who put the car up on the hoist and pronounced all well, albeit in need of oil which he rectified.

Tuesday and Wednesday passed in an apprehensive blur, and I woke on Thursday with a thumping migraine for reasons that have already been documented. The test wasn't pleasant - but not as bad as it might have been - and now I await the results.
Some retail therapy to soothe the shattered nerves was indulged in at the magic back room at the Woollen Mills: Luxury 4ply and 8ply, some cream laceweight for dyeing,and mmmmm...drool... alpaca
followed by lunch and petting of all the animals at PND-and-Brenda's new place [ sadly unphotographed but that's a good excuse to go back, right ?]

The rest of the week has included knitting [ gasp! ]
and yes this is yet another cowl
same as the alpaca one - good old feather and fan - in one of the yarns spun during the Tour De Fleece. I made this particular iteration of the cowl a bit longer than the alpaca one because I don't see the point in ending up with a little useless nugget of my precious time-consuming handspun.
Finally sewed up these Saartje's Bootees
that I knitted months ago and while I was on this sewing up kick, resurrected a shrug that I'd knitted two years ago...
I lost one of the proposed cuffs on a trip down to Melbourne and tossed it in the UFO basket in a fit of pique.
Having finally accepted that the second sleeve was not going to miraculously reappear, I pulled out the stitch dictionary, figured out what I'd been doing first time round and got stuck into sleeve reconstruction, after first sewing on the 60 odd inches of lace border ... at which point Nadie opined that she liked it the way it was, sans cuff.
You don't have to tell me twice!. Down needles and call it finished!

heavily modified Lacy-Hug-Me-Tight - changed the lace pattern and left off the cuffs
yarn: BWM Caprice 50/50 wool alpaca 8ply [sport or DK]
6mm [ lace] and 4mm [ ribbing ]

and the migraine meds are wearing off so it's the couch for me with possibly some canine and/or feline company