Saturday, January 31, 2009

Squishy mail

Some things you do just because it seems like a good thing to do
and if there's the added bonus of having fun in the process, well and good.

What I'm talking about here is the sort of thing that knitters and quilters have always done ...
making quilts and knitteds for charity

tiny quilts for the premature infants that don't make it
tiny knitted and crochet garments for those that do

Thankfully I've never had to deal with the anguish of watching a very prem baby fight to survive although I've known people who have. So there's no personal family reason for being involved, just something very satisfying about making wee things and knowing that they'll perhaps help ease someone's anxiety or pain. Not a huge committment of time, energy or resources for such a positive outcome, right ?

...with this in mind, and because I'd be doing it anyway, I signed up to Sarah's NICU Knitathon late last year and sent off my tiny garments to the hospital of my choice in Melbourne. I tend not to blog much about my charity knitting because it seems a bit like I'm blowing my own horn.

I'm making an exception this time because

Sarah emailed me in December with the news that she's had a random drawing and was sending me something

the something has now arrived and is THIS:
Two skeins of beautiful hand dyed Koigu KPPM sock yarn in spring greens with a hint of lavender

SO not why one does it, but hey, I'm not going to pretend that it isn't lovely .
Yes I'm a spoiled brat.
I know it
now go visit Sarah's blog okay ?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Free Pattern Friday: Lyndham One-Skein Scarf

As promised earlier in the week, here's the pattern for the scarf that I designed for my Beginner's Crochet class:

It's a short trans-seasonal scarf, made with a single ball of a soft lightweight yarn and intended to be held in place with a scarf pin. If you'd like a longer one, double the quantities
British terminology used [ for US scroll down to the bottom ]

yarn - 1 ball Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino or sock or 5-ply wool or alpaca [ at least 101m ]
hook - 3.5 - 4mm
finished size approx 13cm x 83 cm**

** the blue version was made with one ball of Rare Yarns Endare 4 ply which is a thinner wool/alpaca yarn with a slight halo - not recommended for a beginner as it splits - Endare will produce a slightly lighter, longer scarf on a 3mm hook

ch = chain
dc = double crochet
tr = treble
st = stitch or stitches

foundation- chain 32
row 1 - tr into 4th ch from hook, tr to end. Turn
Row 2 - ch 3 [ counts as 1 tr ], tr in next st,* ch 3, miss 2 tr, dc in next st, ch 3, miss 2 tr, tr in next st. Repeat from * to last 4 stitches, ch 3, miss 2 tr, dc in last 2 st. Turn.
Row 3 - ch 3, tr in next st, * ch 3, miss ch space of previous row, dc in next tr, ch 3, miss ch space of previous row, tr in next dc. Repeat from * ending with 2 dc in tr and turning ch of previous row.

repeat row 3 until desired length or until you have only enough yarn to complete the final row:
Final row - ch 3, tr in next st, *2 tr in ch space, tr in next st. Repeat from * to last 2 st - tr in last 2 st, end off.

Don't panic if it looks too short !!
This lace will grow narrower and much longer with 'aggressive' wet blocking.

US Terminology:

yarn - 1 ball sock or sport weight wool or alpaca [ at least 110 yds ]
hook - E or F
finished size approx 5" x 32 1/2"**

ch = chain
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
st = stitch or stitches

foundation- chain 32
row 1 - dc into 4th ch from hook, dc to end. Turn
Row 2 - ch 3 [ counts as 1 dc ], dc in next st,* ch 3, miss 2 dc, sc in next st, ch 3, miss 2 dc, dc in next st. Repeat from * to last 4 stitches, ch 3, miss 2 dc, sc in last 2 st. Turn.
Row 3 - ch 3, dc in next st, * ch 3, miss ch space of previous row, sc in next dc, ch 3, miss ch space of previous row, dc in next sc. Repeat from * ending with 2 sc in dc and turning ch of previous row.

repeat row 3 until desired length or until you have only enough yarn to complete the final row:
Final row - ch 3, dc in next st, *2 dc in ch space, dc in next st. Repeat from * to last 2 st - dc in last 2 st, end off.

Don't panic if it looks too short !!
This lace will grow narrower and much longer with 'aggressive' wet blocking.

and now the legal bit:
c 2009 S.Iacuone for personal and charity use. For all other uses please contact me.
Please don't claim this as your own design or the karma fairy will come along and bite you on the bum.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

on the habits of Bears

Considering that he gets the shakes at the sight and sound of a bath running and isn't much fonder of the shower, Bear has a fascination with hose water that borders on obsession

he sniffs

extends a paw for a tentative pat

he pounces

he scrabbles around in it as if trying to dig out some burrowing small furry rodent

woe betide any plant that gets in his way ... he's a Bear on a mission to discover where this wet stuff is coming from and going to

which may go a long way towards explaining why the contents of said hose was subsequently applied to his small furry person before I would allow him to cross my threshold

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

conquering crochet!

Today the mercury was hovering just shy of 40C [ 104F ] so probably NOT the day of choice to add crochet tutor to my CV

but we managed

and managed quite well

it probably helped keep the temperature under control that Purl's Palace is housed in a very old, solid brick building with 20 foot ceilings but boy! was it noticeable when we all ventured outside to the cars afterwards !!!!!


you'll just have to take my word for it that those are looks of intense concentration from [l to r] Caroline, Kirsten, Sarah, and Zoe as they navigate the complexities of chains, double crochet and trebles, reading written directions, japanese style schematics and the totally confusing differences between American and Everywhere-Else's terminology, not to mention the complexities of metric hooks versus the American 'system' which seems to revolve around every manufacturer having a slightly different set of standards for hook sizing and nomenclature.
Quite a lot to cover really but we got through it all and after some samples, everyone made a start on their Scarf-which-still-has-no-name in CashmerinoSome of you might remember that I canvassed your opinions last year as to whether I was on the right track with this being the sample, and you'll no doubt be relieved [ yeah ... I know ... just humour me here ... I choose to believe that you've all been on tenterhooks for months as to whether we collectively got it right, okay ? ]
when I tell you that everyone was completely happy with this as their premier effort.

I will be posting the pattern as a freebie sometime this week but not today as I completely forgot to measure the samples and they are back at Purl's

Monday, January 26, 2009

opinions please

Nadie commented that the blog header I have had up since de-Christmassing the blog was "a gorgeous photo but too hard to read" so I'm trying out a few alternatives.
What do you all think of this one with Oakley and "Oilslick" ?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

warning warning: brain implosion immanent

If you know anything about the layout of Castlemaine [ which granted most of you don't ] then you would know that the Post Office is in the same street as David's day placement albeit about a kilometre away - but in the direction of home so it's no biggy to stop off and check the post office box [ no mail deliveries this far out y'know ]... and then as the Library is almost next door, to see if any of my reservations have come in.
Said library only gets deliveries on Mondays and Thursdays, so inevitably when I put in a bunch of reserves, it all arrives in one hit.

As was the case today

Hot Textiles byKim Thittichai
Layers to Stitch by the late great Valerie Campbell Harding and the wonderful Maggie Grey
Print Pattern and Colour by Ruth Issett
Fusing Fabric by Margaret Beal

This largess was just about enough to make me lose my somewhat tenuous grip on sanity
and then
I went to the post office and found my order from The Book Depository [ funded by Ma-in-law's Christmas and birthday present ] had come in:

Stitch Cloth Paper and Paint by Angie Hughes
Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists

Tomorrow if you're wondering who the gibbering wreck in the corner of my rumpus room is ... 't'will be me

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yesterday in the midst of the near 40C scorcher that we'd been promised, I decided that some dyeing activity wouldn't be overly taxing but might still satisfy the need for creativity.
I had in my sights a small cone of virulent pea green 3 ply [ fingering ] pure wool that has languished in my stash for nigh unto 30 years.
Its time had come.
So after half an hour's worth of soaking it into submission, out it went to become better acquainted with the digestive tract of Dorothy The Dinosaur [ the 30+ year old monster of a microwave that exists in my carport purely for my various dyeing endeavours ]
Fast forward through six minutes of cooking in Landscapes Pacific and Night Blue, marinating in vinegar, more cooking, and then a wash and rinse in conditioner, followed by half an hour drying in the sun and this is more-or-less how it emerged from the ordeal:
The colour of the undyed hank isn't really true to colour on this monitor but you get the idea.
Anyone care to suggest a name for this colourway ?

and Ms Sophie thinks that there have been more than enough puppy pics lately

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Sky

enjoying mid 20s/70s, with a surprisingly cool overnight low of 7C/45F.
Barely a whisp of cloud in the sky
... perfection if you discount the issue of total lack of precipitation and the travesty that is my [ for want of a better term ] garden
and I refuse to listen to the bloody awful forecast for the rest of the week - fingers in ears - I can't hear you - lalalalala.

In the spirit of making hay while the sun shines-in-moderation, I've cracked on with the little top for great nephew Isaac and am up to the seaming - of which there is very little - weaving in of ends [ bugger all ] and sewing on of buttons [5]

Pattern - vintage Mon Tricot
Yarn - Patons Big Baby 4 ply [ fingering]
needles - KP Options 3mm
Mods - an extra repeat in the sleeves and across the front. The neck on these tends to be a bit loose and gappy so I picked one stitch per garter ridge and knitted a few extra rows. This was always the plan, I allowed for it when I placed my buttonholes ... says she, basking in the reflected glow of her shiny cleverness and foresight ... err ... UNLIKE the pink one I made for Isabella where it was an afterthought resulting in a 'top' button that wasn't - at the top, that is... but we won't talk about that

There has been a fair bit of late night/early morning reading going on as well , as I muddle through a fibro induced rather-worse-than-my-normal-level-of-insomnia bout of sleeplessness:

I've finished another Laurell K Hamilton: A Lick of Frost, and am now back to the Discworld's with Soul Music and Interesting Times.
I'd completely forgotten that I'd started Soul Music which was buried under the detritus on the coffee table and by the time I realised that there was one missing from the shelf of TPs and unearthed it, was already further into Interesting Times.
I'll continue reading them out of order. It doesn't really matter anyway because they each deal with different sets of ongoing characters.

There has also been [finally] some action in the Christmas Takedown Department
Bear tried to help but was less than impressed when his feline siblings decided to oversee the proceedings

Although, to be fair, they have been at this decoration caper for a lot longer than he has

and finally
after the inestimable contributions of the various four legged helpers and having unearthed everything that had fallen out of reach behind various trees and gift boxes, I can relate that the ornament tally for '08

pinched out of the box and chewed on 1
knocked off by cats 2
knocked off by dog 1
knocked off by Nonna 2
cause undertermined 4

for a grand total of 10

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

wednesday bullet points

- it's bloody hot outside
currently 40C /104F and it's only midday so 't'will get hotter
I don't have functioning A/C - haven't had for 2 years at least - cos the goats repeatedly stand on /chew the bits that are outside [ so it's hardly worth getting it repaired again until there is something resembling a fence between them and it ... which ain't happening anytime soon ]

-therefore today is all about the lounging around, the telly and the reading
speaking of which
since New Years Day I have read:

Dead Beat
White Knight
Proven Guilty ... Jim Butcher's Dresden Files

and the following Terry Pratchett offerings:

Witches Abroad [ although, to be honest, I'd nearly finished that before I got side tracked by the Dresden Files ]
Small Gods
Lords and Ladies

Laurell K Hamilton:
A Stroke of Midnight
Mistral's Kiss

It's a bit hot

This is the knitting that I am not doing - see above regarding the ambient temperature

in the last month I have acquired another great-niece, Isabella Lilly, and a great-nephew, Isaac James. Obviously this is for young Master Isaac who was a month early and weighed in at 6 pounds and a bit.

In the interests of family harmony, Isabella's already got the exact same top except in palest pink and a slightly larger size. I'll post the photo when I find it

... can't have anyone's nose getting out of joint over who got the better pressie now can we ?

did I mention that it's a bit hot ?

2pm update - it's now 41.7C / 107.2 F
and at 4pm?42.4C / 108.3F

and four more months of hot weather ahead of us

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

really can't remember

What have I been doing since Friday ?

there was some taking down and packing away of Christmas stuff
but not a lot

my bedroom
David's room
the kitchen
and the sewing end of the big room

that's it so far

all the BIIIG stuff is still in situe

I did think about doing it Sunday night
seriously ... I did
... I swear
... cross my heart and so on and so forth

... stop laughing you beggars

but then got a phone call to tell me that my favouritest-ever-ex-neighbours-and-parent-substitutes
who now live in Queensland , which is to say at the other end of the country, were in deepest darkest Bendigonia and were planning on heading my way mid morning on Monday.

I figured a few boxes here and there was nothing that Evelyn and Ron couldn't cope with, but had absolutely no intention of exposing them to the complete chaos that will undoubtedly ensue as soon as I start the great take down the of rumpus room and the loungeroom
and the bathroom
and Nadie's room
and the spare bedroom

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

Ms Energy-and-enthusiasm-to-get-it-all-done has gone for a little vacation - sidelined as she was by visitors, albeit much anticipated and enjoyed ones.
Personally I think she was jealous that my attention was happily elsewhere
... or maybe she just didn't want to be somewhere that the temperature is currently hovering just shy of 37 degreesC / 99F
I'm sure that she'll wander back eventually
maybe when it's cooler
like in May

in the meantime it's me for the couch, the cooler, a cold drink and the current book

Friday, January 09, 2009

a good week

What had originally loomed as a week of doing pretty much exactly the same things that I would be doing if David didn't have a few days away at Marysville - including the annual Great Christmas Cleanup - has turned into something else entirely:

In a nice bit of synchronicity, Terry - friend of 35 years standing, was feeling in need of some Catsmum R & R while she came to terms with seeing one of her offspring [ adult, but ya'know, still mum's baby ] head off to Japan for a year.
So basically my week has been :

Escort David into town, wait 'till his bus full of friends and carers was ready to go, then a quick coffee with Robyn who was in town for the same purpose, and a quick shop
some housework, knitting, and reading also featured

Off to Daylesford for Purl's Princesses [ knitting group ] which would have been given a miss had David not been away on summer camp.
Synchronicity struck again while I was at Daylesford, when I fielded a phone call from #1 son asking if he could stay the night as he would have a 5am start working in Castlemaine on Wednesday... well d'uh !!! like I would EVER choose to forgo seeing the offspring who lives 2 1/2 hours away !! Anyway, as D was away that meant no one had to sleep in the spare room with its single [ twin ] bed: Terry would have Nadie's queen size and Stephen would have David's. That would work.
Purl's was followed by lunch with Robyne [ not to be confused with OtherRobyn-without-an-e ] at her gorgeous, quirky, interesting, yet elegant house at Eganstown.
This was a leisurely affair involving a really interesting quiche with pinenuts, salad, fruit and my contribution: PND's homemade fetta goat cheese, garden, sun and more goats - yup this is THAT Robyne ... goat owner and wife of he who pedicures my goaty girls.
The sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky
Soon enough but not too soon it was time to head for home and then into town to pick Terry up from the train followed by lots of talking, cups of tea - plural, the greeting-medicating**-and-watering of #1 son, food, more talking, some knitting, more talking while #1 son worked on his laptop, and finally bed with a book.

a five o clock start for me courtesy of the goats so I was on my third cuppa by the time Terry surfaced. In true Hobbit fashion I happily had second breakfast so's to keep her company while she was having first breakfast. Thereinafter ensued a period of mutual reading-in-the-sun-with-animals followed by a trip back to Daylesford, retail therapy and lunch followed by general sitting around reading and my world famous pumpkin sweet potatoe and leek risotto for dinner.

a similar leisurely start [ although the goats let me sleep in until 7 ] and then off to Maldon for more retail therapy [ Terry could Shop for Australia in the retail Olympics ] , coffee and then home for my equally world famous spicy rice and chickpea soup for lunch, after which Terry's hubby arrived to take her home. Dennis used to work with my late husband back in the days when I first started going out with Marc, and we've been firm friends ever since.

David was dropped home about an hour lateralong with the traditional returning-home-gift-for-mum of a postcard and a suitcase full of dirty laundry

Some reading
Some tv
Some getting drenched while bathing Bear
some pulling down the Christmas decos in the kitchen.
That is as far as I've got.
This is the kitchen Christmas detritus.
Not all
not even most

** Stephen is asthmatic and hyper sensitive to the cats so even with a precautionary double dose of vacuuming, we start every visit with antihistamines just to be on the safe side.

Monday, January 05, 2009


I was going to enlist your help to see if, together, we could figure out what was causing the strange, mangled areas in my garden

exhibit A: the remains of my Japanese Iris

The obvious answer would seem to be GOATS but there have been no recent Great Escapes

It doesn't look like 'roo damage
... or bunnies
... or possums

but I think I may have worked it out:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Saturday, January 03, 2009

my mother will be turning in her grave

When does something become a tradition?

When you do it once ? - well no, hardly!
Twice ?
Three times ?
How about something that you have done unfailingly for the last 36 years, that your darling daughter also does, and your mother did before you ?

I think that would probably qualify as a tradition.

Well tradition 'round here says that Christmas decorations start coming down on Twelfth Night [ January 6th ]

This is written in stone

It is an operation requiring patience, fortitude, stamina and a level of organisation of Martha Stewartian proportions to ensure that everything is packed - by room - into the correct box
because otherwise I'll have a nervous breakdown mid November when I get it all out again. It takes 5 days to do properly, and used to take longer.

As you can probably imagine, while all this transpires the house closely resembles the the Wreck of the Hesperus

Not a good time for visitors
especially a visitor who hasn't ever been an overnight guest before and whom I haven't seen for about two years
so either I try to get it all done tomorrow and Monday
it will have to wait until she goes home again on Thursday

either way it's not going to happen on the 6th
sacrilege !!!

I'm leaning towards waiting till Thursday

Thursday, January 01, 2009