Thursday, May 28, 2009

A good day

It started with a beautiful, misty, 2 degree morning which I totally failed to take a photo of so here's one I prepared earlier

which segued into an unplanned and wholly serendipitous cup of dragon chai at the Coffee Bean with Robyn

[ NOTE: when one is in the car heading out of town and one's good friend is on foot heading the other way, the mutual ability to use Makaton Sign Language is quite handy. Coffee? Yes, sure! ]

Then home where, after some brisk raking-and-piling , I was sitting here at lunchtime, catching up on my Ravelry forums [ as you do ] and happened upon a thread discussing the arrival of shade cards for a new alpaca from Bendigo Woollen Mills... who'd got 'em and who, as a result of that news, was now waiting anxiously by the letterbox.
Well, the fact that my 'letterbox' was in town, 6.5 km away, wasn't going to stop me ... not on your nellie it wasn't ... and in any case, one of the girls had helpfully posted several pics of the shade card ... so I jumped in the freshly serviced and very happy vehicle and headed north.

Alas and alack, there was no Rich Alpaca to be seen [ mainly because the girls in the Mill shop hadn't even been told that the mail-out had gone ahead ] but the exceedingly nice and helpful girl behind the register dropped everything and went off to find the colours that I was after. Can't argue with that kind of service, can you?
Anyway, while I was waiting, I just happened to find 'one or two' other treasures in the magic back room of huge discounts :
200 grams of a beautiful red in Colonial for less than $8

all this in Classic, some more of the Aran in Dusty Blue and some 10ply black - and a wee ball of navy that's bound to come in handy at some point - in the new Luxury... all this in addition to my 6 x 200 gram [ 7 ounce ] balls of the Alpaca.
plus the new issue of Yarn Magazine

and this is where we get to the next major installment of my good day ...

Home, David picked up, shopping cleared away and armed with a cuppa, I settled down on the couch, turned to the letters page of my lovely shiny new mag and read a slightly familiar letter.
The last issue had concentrated in part on the International Year of Natural Fibres and had asked the readers to nominate their favourite natural fibre

and in the other corner of the page I read:

and very nearly sprayed the surrounding area with the contents of my coffee mug

Can I get a woo? and possibly a Hoo to go with it?

I'm thinking about using it to get something excessively and unapologetically frivolous and luxurious that I could never in a million years justify buying - like their bison/casmere/bamboo blend laceweight at $60 something a 50 gram ball...
What would you choose ?

and just when you thought that the day couldn't possibly hold anything else ...
I got to choir tonight to be presented with a CD of beautiful harp music that I'd won [ tenth prize mind you] in the Oxfam Walk-Against-Want Raffle.
I never win raffles
This was one of those dealies where there was a big basket of goodies and each winner in turn got to choose, on down to the last prize which was mine. I remember saying when I bought the ticket that I'd have a hard time choosing between a length of beautiful blue Timorese fabric and this particular CD.

So I was pretty happy with my prize.

[ but wait there's more ]

when I got David off the Social Club bus a few minutes ago, I was told that Mr. Picky had eaten not only lasagne for dinner [ unheard of ] but also yoghurt for dessert - two foods that we have never ever been able to get him to even try a mouthful of.

a good day in every respect

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


The last week has involved
funeral [ with lashings of migraine meds and a two hour drive each way ]
more migraine
pjs all weekend
goat tending
getting the car serviced

in other words a lot of stuff that didn't make for particularly thrilling blogging

I briefly considered blogging about the inch of rain that we got the other day [ yahoo! ]

or the beautiful misty morning

but instead I'm just going to show you the current knitting:

This is the fourth shawl in the last six months - there was the chunky Faroese one that ma-in-law got for Christmas, the two blue, laceweight versions of the Comfort Shawl, and this

which will be the Forest Canopy Shawl when it grows up. [ pic above truer for colour ]
I'm doing it in the same 50c-a-ball-from-the-Op-Shop laceweight as the blue ones [ except it's teal this time ] which means about 4 times the work of the original pattern but it should be worth the effort.
Given that unblocked lace

is a universe away from the finished and blocked version, you can all go and check out one of Tara's here and Jejeune's here

I've seen photos of probably thousands of beautiful lace shawls, not to mention several hundred fabulous versions of this specific pattern, but it was really was Tara's and Jejeune's that convinced me that

a] I had to make it
b] that it should be in laceweight

I'm still seriously considering pinching Tara's idea and doing a dip dyed edge - maybe in navy which might then turn out to be a darker teal on this base colour

just found a post by Rell with her Forest Canopy Shawl which is also totally luscious so I'm adding that link as well here

Thursday, May 21, 2009

crochet and completely gratuitous cat

I spent most of yesterday over at Purl's Palace in Daylesford, helping three absolutely delightful ladies tackle the intricacies of my Beginner's crochet class.
The project - as last time - was the Lyndham Scarf [free pattern over there in the side bar ] and together we braved the mysteries of English versus American notation of the basic stitches.
Admittedly Cherry - seen her looking quite pleased with herself, as well she should -did have some prior crochet experience so I can't take credit for the speed with which she was churning out her sample and then her scarf

Tracey seemed to be happily on her way to crochet mastery by the end of the session, as was Peg [ alas sadly unpictured ]

There had been two other ladies booked in [ and a question mark over another ] but they had to cancel on Monday which was a bit disappointing for Zoe and Andy, although it meant that I could give more attention to my lovely trio.

and a good time was had by all!

Now with no attempt whatsoever at a neat segue:

It has been brought to my attention through the forceful application of several pairs of claws to the soft and tender portions of my anatomy,that certain members of the menagerie Chez Catsmum are somewhat unhappy with the dawg-centric nature of recent posts. Even the attempted bribe with Friskies treats was treated with disdain ... which is to say, the feline rulers of the house did deign to consume said treats but it was on the understanding that they were neither appeased nor amused,

I henceforth promise a more fair and balanced reportage

" Well, just see that you do, Mum"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to cook the perfect baked potato

First choose an appropriate patch of bush...preferably one that is overdue for a fuel reduction bonfire [ dawg added for scale purposes only! ]

It is of vital importance that your day be fine, clear and lacking in breeze or the threat of precipitation ... and out of the fire restriction period [ so up here that basically means between early May and October ]
It doesn't absolutely have to have a cornflower blue and cloudless sky but if you can manage that so much the better

Dress appropriately - no flowing skirts or trailing sleeves

Next gather together:
a comfy folding chair
gardening gloves [ mine are leather ]
good book
cup of your favoured hot beverage
canine helper optional but desirable

rake vigourously until you have amassed a modest pile [ again dawg added purely for purposes of scale and not at all because he's cute ]

and now a very important note:
build great big bonfires that scare the bejesus out of everyone in the immediate vicinity.
I, being of the female persuasion, build small controllable mounds - no more than a metre high and generally about half that size - and then feed them from other heaps. The resulting fire will be about four times the height of the pile

... so now let me see ... if the nice fella down the road makes one huge pile about 3 or 4 metres high - times four ...

make sure that the surrounding area is swept completely clear for several metres. Basically imagine the potential height of the fire, add a bit extra for safety and imagine that flame suddenly moving horizontally if the wind changes. I'm sure you get the drift.
However much of an area you thought would suffice ... make it a bit bigger. Don't forget to look UP.

wrap your chosen spuds individually in foil
bury at the base of your soon-to-be pyre and set it alight.

Even though there was not a hint of breeze prior to ignition, it will immediately become apparent that you have placed the comfy chair in the direction of prevaling air movement

move comfy chair
find something to serve as foot rest/cup holder/ book tablenow sit back
enjoy the day
move comfy chair again
get up and poke / top up the fire about every 8-10 pages

after an hour or so, having allowed the fire to die down

unearth your foil package[s], slather with butter, black pepper and cheese of choice [ mine was goat cheese - fresh, home made by PND and Brenda, and very creamy ]

et voila

ze perfect spud

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vale Alan Roberts 11.1.25 - 18.5.09

I was going to do a post on the best way to cook a roast spud in a bonfire but that all seems a bit irrelevant, not to say irreverent, as my Uncle Alan passed away about half an hour ago.

He had been in ill health after a series of heart attacks and strokes, and had been in a nursing home for the last several months.

He was a nuggety little Aussie bloke, a bit cheeky, an ex- navy man
AND [ thanks to that naval service ] a beautiful knitter. I remember many years ago seeing an unfinished lacy baby layette of great intricacy that he had made. I wonder if my aunt still has it at the back of the linen press ? I hope so.

anyway he had a very long life, it was well lived and he leaves a lot of people behind with good memories ... can't ask for more than that

Normal posting WILL resume soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

all behind like a cow's tail

I'll do you a proper post tomorrow - or Sunday - but the visitors have just left along, with a nice woman from Respite Care who was already running late and THEN got lost, and the vacuum cleaner is still in the middle of the floor, and I have to see to David's dinner and ...

but in the meantime I'd like you all to go over and check out my friend [ and frequent commenter on this 'ere blog ] Marcie's new blog about her current patchwork / embroidery obsession

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bear-thday postscript

When I took Ms Molly's birthday bone across today [ wrapped in foil and tied in a big purple ribbon ] I wasn't entirely surprised to find that Pete and Brenda had also paid the butcher a visit ... talk about one happy little Bear! He now has bones buried both here and next door and I await with no small amount of trepidation the day that he digs 'em all up again :]

He also wants to thank everyone for their Bear-thday wishes...

Ethel, meanwhile, is peeping imprecations under her breath and threatening to take the Bearmeister to the [very small] Small Claims Tribunal
Bear wishes to point out that it is in the nature of terriers to chase anything that runs
especially silly, bloody Guinea Fowl
and he didn't really mean to deprive Ethel of her tail feathers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Bear-y Happy 1st Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday deeeee-ar Be-ear !
Hap-py Birthday tooooooooooo yooooooooou!

Hip! Hip! etc etc etc
birthday boy

birthday boy with presents

[ a selection of meaty bones from the local butcher ... who put in extra when I said it was for Bear's birthday, so the rest are in the fridge ]

and because Marcy requested it - and because I said I would ... the most recent family photo :

[l to r] Bear, Ms Mollie and Mamma Misty.

It would appear that Bear gets his long coat, huge ears and luxurious tail from Daddy ... or should I say his presumed Daddy ... a Maltese x Pomeranian. Molly has inherited the wee Pomeranian face but pretty much Fox Terrier everything else.

Bear and Ms Mollie sent each other Happy Birthday text messages this morning, and a big meaty bone will be headed her way tomorrow. I wonder if I should gift wrap it? Maybe a nice big bow?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day ?

For a number of varied and quite legitimate reasons, the only one of my offspring that I am going to be seeing today is the one with absolutely no comprehension of what day it is ... who happily parroted 'Happy Mothers' Day' when asked and handed me the present that I had ordered for myself from Book Depository
My Mothers' Day last year was spent acting as assistant midwife to a fox terrier - wrongly identified in my post as a Jack Russell - but given the fact that our year has 365 days, it means that the anniversary of Bear's Natal Day is tomorrow... it feels like it's today, so I'm starting early with the baby photos:

- that's Bear at the back, Ms Molly and Tassie/Ollie at 3 weeks. You can see how Bear was bigger and boofier than the other two, hence his name which doesn't suit him at all now.

and here's His Beariness

Friday, May 08, 2009

who's a spoiled girl then?

that would be me!

I went into town to drop David off and then to the Coffee Bean to meet Robyn for a mug of Dragon Chai each [ that's chai with chilli flakes in it served with frothed milk and honey ... very warming on a cold day and highly recommended by yours truly ]

and she presented me with these and don't they look just perfect in the John Campbell jug that my parents bought on their honeymoon in 1950 ?

I have nice friends!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Putting things in perspective

I might have spent this post whining about missing out on Cirque De Soleil this afternoon after having tickets since last October
or I could whinge about certain recent health developments [ and I probably still will but not today ]
... because today I got a timely reminder that I have an awful lot to be thankful for

I spent the morning with my lovely Purl's Princesses [ SnB without the B ] over at Daylesford.
We had beautiful new teas to try in gorgeous wee Asian teapots, Robyne made cake - green tomato cake [!!! ] which was just fab-u-lous and there was so much chat that it was well nigh impossible to follow all the conversations

There was lots of Chantelle [ which is Central Victorianese for Show-and-Tell ]
including a big pile of 8" knit and crochet squares.

You see, our friend Zanny and her daughter, who hail from Zimbabwe originally, were horrified to learn that there are one and a half million Aids orphans in South Africa alone and over eleven million in sub-Saharan Africa.
The number increases at a rate of 500 per DAY [ I was told 500 a week and that was bad enough but the idea of 500 each and every day is truly horrifying ]
and many of these poor little souls are themselves born with Aids due to uterine transmission from their infected mothers.
A group in Soweto has taken it upon themselves to provide comforting blankets for these kids and need our help.
They don't want whole blankets sent - they would only be stolen en route - but are asking instead for 8 inch squares ... knitted or crocheted, any design, any weight yarn, but preferably in wool as most of these children have only wood fires for warmth and so wool is preferable from the safety angle, although all fibres are being accepted.
It takes 40 squares to make a blanket
If you can help, or would like to read further go here
The scale of this tragedy is so huge but here's a small way of helping that will snowball into something significant

If you are within reach of Daylesford, you might like to join us at our next Purl's Princess's get together on Wednesday the 3rd of June . Zoe Bradshaw [owner of Purl's] and Rare Yarns have offered to supply the yarn, all you need to do is turn up from 10.30am to 12.30 with 4mm,5mm, or 6mm needles and join us for fun, friendship and mindful knitting... and of course, if you'd like to make a square or two in the meantime, that would be great.

If you are on Ravelry, you may like to join the Knit-A-Square group there as well.

Monday, May 04, 2009

beauty is where you find it

David helped me lug some long dead trees down the hill this afternoon and they were quickly transformed into a neat pile of fire fodder with the help of my Alligator [ mini chain saw ]
I loathe white ants as much as the next person, especially when they reduce perfectly good firewood to the consistency of tissue paper

but look at these wooden 'scribbles' left behind in the hardwood after all the soft had been devoured ...
it felt almost sacrilegious to consign them to the fire

and I'm pretty sure there's a quilt / embroidery / drawing in there somewhere

Saturday, May 02, 2009

for Dr Who fans only:

Michael at The Torchwood Institute found this on YouTube, so I just had to pinch it too

Friday, May 01, 2009

Shock! Horror! Actual knitting content

When I checked the archives it became clear that I haven't shown you anything knitted for two whole months.
there have been crocheted items here and here

but no finished knitting
I cannot have gone a whole 2 months without knitting anything

it's just not possible
... so a quick trawl through the photos and my projects page on Ravelry revealed a fair bit that had somehow never made it onto the blog. Although in my defense there was the bushfires, engagements, mixed media stuff and general all round Bear cuteness...

this cannot be allowed
must not be allowed

drum roll please
herewith the finished knitting for the last 2 months:
the Posh Shrug
the matching Mittens [ sort of my Travelling Vine Wristwarmer pattern but with so many mods that it 's pretty much a whole new design ]

a sampling of the umpty gazillion pairs of slightly modified Saartje's bootees

that I've made with the wool that my lovely friend gave me a while back. This particular lot are all in Patons Bluebell [ and yes they have been sewn up but I don't have a group shot of them finished and this post is picture heavy enough as it is. ]

Two Feather and Fan Comfort Shawls made from a single 200 gram ball of laceweight wool that I acquired at the Vinnies Op Shop for 50 cents.
The smaller shawlette was sent to Corrie for her birthday in March, and then seeing that there was so much yarn left, and I'd enjoyed the process so much, AND it was such a lovely blue, I made a slightly larger one for myself... and there's still enough yarn left on that ball to make another one!
It's a fun, reasonably easy knit, and a fabulous pattern ... well written, lots of photos and can be made in any size in any weight of yarn and it's a freebie to boot.

and finally there was this little baby top in Patons Smoothie [ made up as I went along ] for the yet-to-arrive Bella [ along with a BSJ and one pair of the Saartje's bootees ]

There are a couple of other projects hanging around but they can have their moment in the spotlight some other day

and my tip for the week?
do not get between two female cats when the one on the back of the couch decides to ambush the one on the knee ...
net result:
slashed upper lip, and two punctures to the lower lip and chin, all duly treated with ice and antiseptic
and you don't need a picture