Monday, June 29, 2009

Gothic yarn, vampire visitation and a phantom guest

No brekkie for me this morning!
I was due at Maldon Hospital at 10am to take part in a Victoria-wide health survey which involved fasting for 12 hours followed by a visit to the friendly neighborhood vampire and a battery of tests, measurements, and questions,

I was 20 minutes early - no point hanging around in town after dropping Dave off and hardly worth going home for the sake of less than half an hour - and was armed with my current travel knitting but wouldn't ya know it, just because I came prepared to wait, I got shown straight in... bugger

Luckily for me, no one has ever had any difficulty finding a vein or drawing my blood ... which was just as well given the surprisingly large amount of it that was removed.
The lass before me wasn't quite so lucky and ended up on the floor for about ten minutes, which isn't really what you want to see as you walk in!
An hour, a bit of cottonwool, a cup of tea and a biscuit later, I was home again and racing around doing all that stuff one does when a visitor is about to arrive ... and then I waited
... and waited
... and waited

I checked for phone messages

and went back to waiting [ and before you ask, no, I don't have her mobile number, and she's house sitting at the moment and neglected to pass on that number ]

Finally as darkness closed in, dinner was cooking and five hours after Lynnie should have arrived, her daughter rang to say that L was unwell and wouldn't be coming, and that she [ the daughter ] should've rung in the morning but hadn't gotten around to it !!!!!

So I have a nicely clean house, extra food, and an unplanned free day tomorrow
I'm sure I can think of something to do with it that obviously won't need to involve much housework

It might involve playing with the superfine merino laceweight that I dyed yesterday:
I was aiming for something suitable for my daughter-in-law's birthday but the warm brown-and/or-black that I had in mind turned out to be a luscious aubergine, purple and black - very gothic- so I'm calling it Nightwings [ unless one of you comes up with a better suggestion ]

Back to slaving over a hot microwave with another hank of the same BWM 2- ply and this time it came out a really deeply saturated black [ much darker than the photo shows ]

I love it when a plan comes together

so that will be for DDIL
I'm leaning towards Ice Queen again

but that ruby red Mooi from Ecoyarns is calling its siren song and ooh, that Nightwings really really wants to be something as well.

Lead me not into temptation ... I can find it perfectly well all by myself!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yes folks, it's Sunday

and we all know what that means, right ?

Yup, another Sunday Salmagundi of the bits and pieces that I didn't get around to showing you during the week

midwinter morning ...

delightful squishy mail:
You may remember a couple of weeks ago when I was rhapsodising over having won a voucher from Ecoyarns.
Well, thanks to the fact that Vivian is having a June sale, and with a bit of my own funds added as a way of saying thankyou, I was able to get even more bang for my buck
and this is what was waiting for me at the Post Office on Friday:

one gorgeous, unbelievably luscious, soft skein of Louet Mooi Laceweight [ bison, cashmere and bamboo ] in Ruby - a lovely heathered soft country red

which is thinking about becoming a cowl, probably Ice Queen and in the meantime I will just love it and pet it and try very hard not to drool on it

and 13 balls of SWTC Inspiration [ soysilk and alpaca ]

that's 4 balls of a lovely magenta called Magic and 9 [ all they had or I would've bought more I suspect] of Memories.
On my monitor Memories showed as a medium Wedgewood-ish Blue but what arrived was more of a blued/greyed lavender, which I like even better than what I thought I was getting, and, thanks to the above mentioned sale, it was 40% off !!!!

and this is a not-at-all-gratuitous cat photo
Oakley inspecting my new short cowdy boots that I found at Tar-zhay.
Needless to say, they aren't leather, and I fully expect them to get trashed, because these are going to be the ones I wear pretty much all the time, when I'm not wearing my bestest red-and-black ones, from now until about the end of October. Okay, so they're not one of my colours, but for just over $30 [ shoe sale! ] I'll manage with tan.

what else?
what I've been knitting this week?
a couple more cowls ... which I haven't photographed yet ... but one's pale blue and one's black and both for DD
what I've been reading ?
Well, thanks to a major bout of not-sleeping that saw me totally conscious, if not at my best, from 3.15 am yesterday, I've finished the last of my Terry Pratchett's - Making Money - which makes 34 novels read so far this year.
After a mild panic attack about what to read next, I picked up the first Artemis Fowl.
It's a kid's book, and I guess because of a lot of hype, I was hoping for something in the same league as the Harry Potters ... but ... so far? ... not really ... nope.
I'm working my way through #2, having read #1 yesterday, and I'll read #3 as well, but only because they're here.
Mind you, I also had a less than thrilled reaction to Eragon and only got about a third the way through the first one, whereas Nadie stuck with them and says they improved.
If it turns out that Nadie likes this lot, they're hers.

and what's on the horizon?
an ex-student is arriving tomorrow because she wanted to go see the Archibalds while they're in Bendy.
I didn't really get asked.
I got told ...
so it's just as well I love her to bits, cos this means I'm going to be missing Purl's Princesses on Wednesday.
The Archibalds!
all good

Friday, June 26, 2009

Where were you ...

... when you heard that ...
Kennedy had been shot ?
ditto John Lennon ?
or that Princess Di had died ?

in my case the answers are
a] no idea - I was 9
b] in the car on the way to a dental appointment
c] at a dance class with my daughter

and today that list was added to ...
so where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson had passed away of a heart attack, aged 50 ?
- because I didn't have the radio on in the car this morning, I found out when one of the other girls mentioned it over a cup of tea at Robyn's a couple of hours ago

and it feels so odd... even that the eternal Peter Pan was 50 seems hardly credible.

what a strange sad end to an equally strange life

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Still no sign of Fred ... and it's not very likely that he would leave Ethel's side, so I'm forced to entertain the idea of FOX, and I'm afraid that idea is just not at all entertaining. At the risk of anthropomorphising what is essentially a bloody chicken, I would have to say that Ethel appears to be missing her man.
and basically because I'm feeling bummed about Fred, you'all are going to have to make do with the bunch of totally unrelated images from the past few days which would, under happier circumstances, have made up a tasty Sunday Salmagundi:
an unseasonal irridescent visitor to the garden
- the huge cherry picker which has been blocking half the main street for the last week or so

as the Post Office gets a fresh face lift - and not before time too ... the accretions of pigeon poop on the top of the tower were threatening to mutate and climb down under their own power.

- Scrumptious fabrics that parted me from my cash at Honeysuckle Patchwork in Bendigo ... those three on the left have DRAGONFLIES on them. I love dragonflies

and speaking of species Odonata,
as I believe we just were
- Sophie overseeing Tara's production of an intricate sock in a gorgeous shiny greeny grey merino/tencel blend called ... yes ... dragonflies - but I cannot for the life of me remember whose yarn ... bad blogger ... bad! ]
As you can see, Soph takes her role as knitting quality control officer and patented yarn tensioning device very seriously, even if it means that poor Tara has to bend herself into some very creative positions in order to keep on knitting

So I guess that there was a connection after all, albeit pretty tenuous, between those last two photos, and maybe we could stretch the insect imagery to include the shiny bug in the first one, but I'm buggered if I can figure out a way to tie the cherry picker into that lot. Three outta four aint too bad!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

wherefor art thou, Fred ?

It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly particular sounds become part of our aural landscape - the largely unheeded background of our day to day doings

I've only had Fred and Ethel for a few months and without me even noticing, their constant chatter has seeped into the 'normal' noise around here.

Guinea Fowl males call " chichichi" and the girls call " buckwheat buckwheat" [ a bit like a squeaky gate ] and they talk to each other constantly, seldom straying more than a foot or so away from each other as they potter happily around the goat paddock

So it seemed eerily silent - despite the normal morning noise of umpty gazillion magpies, pigeons, wrens and honeyeaters and the the background mumbling of four goats - when I went out to feed everyone and found only a bewildered Ethel, buck-wheating at a fraction of her normal volume.
Maybe I'll be able to report Fred's return soon but I'm not feeling spectacularly hopeful

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Those are meant to be rosehips ?

Remember last weekend's sneaky peak at this?
It's a lino cut that I started last Friday.

Marcy asked in the comments on that post about the process of linocutting which basically involves coming up with a suitable subject - in this case, some large rose hips - drawing it onto a piece of linoleum, and then selectively carving away whatever seems like a good idea . A large roller or brayer is rolled repeatedly backwards and forwards [ and sideways ] through a glob* of printer's ink until it's perfectly even - which is harder than you'd imagine - which is then rolled onto the surface of the design. Anything carved out doesn't pick up the printing ink and will show as a white area or line on paper or fabric.

You pretty much carve a bit and do a test print
carve a bit more, print it again
carve a bit more
... and then decide that you probably should've left well enough alone after step 2!

Anyway, I spent some time yesterday with my friend Robyn, 'refining' the design and printing it up three or four times and this is the final result.

... and gratifying as it would be to have you all believing that this is just another one of my many interests, it would definitely be a stretch to say that I 'do' linocutting.

This is the first time I've played with those little chiselly thingies probably since about 1992, and before that it was probably back in my art teaching days sometime in the Late Cretaceous.

Blame or praise Robyn ... it was all her idea [ and her rosehips ]

* this is so a totally technical term

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby it's cowl-ed outside

A few weeks ago I gave my cousin Judith and two of the aunts a little cashmere/merino neckwarmer each- one of those little short scarves that crosses over in the front and buttons.
Apparently I have started something, because Jude has picked up the sticks again and in the few spare moments when she's not frantically doing uni assignments or studying, she has been trawling through Ravelry looking at endless patterns for fingerless gloves, berets and above all cowls, and consulting by phone, email or Facebook as needed.
... all of which got me thinking that a few cowls wouldn't go astray up here either, especially with hair as short as mine currently is
so this lovely aran [ worsted ] weight merino from BWM had a quick trip through Dorothy the Dinosaur in a nice warm bath of Kelp and Tarragon dyes from Landscape
and came out looking like this
and I have to say I'm rather liking this new yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills . I don't really buy Luxury as a name for a good workhorse superwash merino no matter how soft it is [ Luxury to me speaks of superfine cashmere or silk ] but it really is quite soft, and so far it's not scratchy against the skin... and it's a very reasonable price too. So A++++ in my book.

Anyway ... cowls ... I have plenty of lovely cowl patterns that are in my to-do queue but I opted instead for just improvising with a lace pattern that appears in most stitch dictionaries. The Harmony Guide calls it Fishtail Lace

and as this one's not quite finished here's one I prepared on the weekend:
This is some 8ply [ sport ] that was in one of the stashes I've inherited in the last year. Moggy's Mum's maybe? Do you recognise it Jane ? - 't'was called Pronto and there were 6 x 25 gram balls of it. I used 3 and a smidge of the 4th. Obviously it's a finer yarn than the Aran Luxury so more stitches and repeats, and the grey one has a larger diameter for a more drapey cowl [ photo carefully cropped so that you can't see the remains of the black eye from 2 weeks ago and the aged, crepey jowls that, according to the aforementioned cousin Judith, are a family trait]

while the green one should stay nice and snug around my ears ... but apart from that small matter of gauge, weight and diameter they're the same.
They are!
A free 'pattern' could be forthcoming if some of you would like it

and that 'outside' I referred to in the title ? - Monday night was zero, last night was minus 1 and tonight should be 1 degree [ 3 .5 at the moment ]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

another Sunday Salmagundi

As everyone seemed to rather like the idea of 'Sunday Salmagundi', it continues
[ even though I actually had blog-fodder for at least two, maybe three, cohesive posts ]

the haunt of local ducks, dogs and power walkers
Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

the start of my 'wattle robe for a winter goddess' quilt

- basically just creating some small bits which may become larger yardage [ fodder for a later post ] Maybe you can see where I've used bits of that altered batik fabric from the Op Shop... and, contrary to normal practice, I'm not putting in a link to the relevant previous post because the fabric photo is way down at the bottom.

and a teasing corner of a lino block that I began carving on Friday [ and more blog fodder for another day ]

so there's your pot-pourri of unconnected images for this cold wintery Sunday - and I didn't even show you the knitting that I started yesterday :]

Saturday, June 13, 2009


well the shoulder thingie is finished - such a quick knit on those biggish needles
I'm going to have to keep this pattern in mind as a future present giving possibility in addition to my usual berets, cowls and fingerless gloves

and the specs are:
Ribbed Decrease Capelet by Amber Daniels-Cook [ I got it as a free PDF download at Ravelry but the link will take any non-Ravellers to Amber's blog. ]

Arcoboleno by Moda Vera [ S*******t's in-house brand ] - 6 balls x 55m per ball. I bought 10 balls a couple of years ago, because Nadie loved the colour combo, and it was on special, but then we discovered that she couldn't bear it near her skin. Her loss, my gain I guess.

9mm KnitPicks Harmony

I knitted the second size because I was playing with needle size and gauge but really, if you're using anything approaching the right gauge, the smallest size will fit almost anyone. The ribbing is extremely compressed when unworn and has a HUGE amount of stretch when it's on.
The pattern gives directions for a long and a short version but only one lot of yarn requirements, so I'm assuming that is for the short version. I made mine a whole inch longer at the base and had to break into the seventh ball just to bind off the last 8 stitches at the neck ... of course if I hadn't had the extra ball I could've just frogged it back a row. [ but I did, so I didn't have to ... if you get my drift ]

overnight temp - 4 degrees
yesterday and Thursday - minus 2.9
and here we have exhibits a] and b]
this birdbath always freezes exactly at zero

but the big concrete low to the ground one only freezes below minus 2

The Yellow Honeyeaters were not happy

Sorry about the fuzzy pic but I was c-o-l-d and s-h-i-v-e-r-i-n-g in my dressing gown and pjs after the 7am [minus 2 degrees] goat-and-guinea-fowl breakfasting. As it turned out I could've waited because the ice was there until about 11 am.we may not get snow but we certainly know what frost is all about. Plants up here have to be able to cope with both severe frost AND scorching drought conditions in summer

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Take two

I've just spent an hour writing a carefully crafted post
uploading photos
polishing each phrase and sentence

Blogger ate it

I'm tired, it's 2 degrees and I can hear my 'lectric blanket's siren song, so I'm afraid you're getting the bare bones version:

- Nadie and The Boy are back from balmy Queensland and she's probably still complaining about the weather in Victoria as I type ... it was zero degrees last night. She has a point.

- The Boy made sure that I had split fire fodder before they left [ definite future son-in-law points ]

- Sophie, Oakley, MissC and especially Bear are happy that the greycoated invaders have gone back down south

- After complaining bitterly for 5 days, Suki didn't want to go home and took refuge under my bed.

- I didn't end up going to Quilting - tired, sore back, couch, quilt, zzzzz

- the 'black' eye is now mostly yellow

- question for you - should I sew this up as a beanie ? or leave part of the seam open, add some red ties and call it a bonnet?

- another dozen squares to go to South Africa [ that blue and red one in the bottom left corner is cashmere and alpaca - minute leftover balls of beautiful yarns that I couldn't bear to throw out, so this is a perfect use for them ]

- started this yesterday morning:

because if I keep knitting 2ply lace shawls, I'll never make a dint in the stash, but I need to take a break from making squares so this little shoulder warmer seemed like a good way to use up some Moda Vera Arcoboleno from S*******t [ heartless, souless big-box craft chain store ]. It's a wool/acrylic thick and thin singles yarn of the sort that is generally described as looking like handspun ... except that any spinner I know would be embarrassed to produce anything this uneven. It has character and texture and a glorious mix of blues, purples and teal which this night-lit photo doesn't do justice to, and will knit up quickly on 9mm KP Harmony circs

- and the new quilt
I found a good sized piece of this batik at the Op Shop for the princely sum of 50 cents and for a reason that I can't fully verbalise, I could just see wattle in bloom. Why I don't know, because there's no yellow in it and precious little green ...
so out with the gold oil paint
there's no guarantee that this is what it will end up as, but just to give you some sense of the genesis of an idea
bare winter landscape, pieced in tree trunks, and drifts of bright wattle, to make a robe shaped quilt ... perhaps for Ameratsu the japanese goddess of winter
less tree trunks I think
but you get the idea

Monday, June 08, 2009

and Monday Miscellany

Nothing much happening this Queen's Birthday Holiday Monday
in the sense of there not being any visitors ... which I think is the first time that's happened since I went bush
so just David, Bear and moi - and an augmented complement of cats, as we're playing host to the Grandkittens while Chris and Nadie are escaping the winter up in Queensland.
Feline fisticuffs have been kept to a minimum but Suki's still hissing at me, Sumi is under Nadie's bed, Sophie is under mine, and MissC is just generally not happy, and has taken her ill feelings out on Mr "I am a Nervous Wreck" Bear, who has declared himself an asylum seeker under David's benevolent protection

and Oakley is just doing his best to ignore everyone.

there was knitting of course [ to be detailed termorrer]
and, please don't collectively die of shock, I started a new quilt [ also to be detailed on the 'morrow ]

so you're getting another serving of photos that didn't fit in anywhere else:

MissC has resumed her torrid on-again-off-again affair with Threebie [ big brown bear ]

Isn't this sweet? Rowan and Ruby have been sticking very close to mum - and the house - although I must say that Rosie's eye being mashed into the brickwork doesn't look all that comfortable.

and speaking of uncomfortable eyes [ good segue, huh ? ]
Thankyou all for the kind healing wishes
... the black eye is now sort of burgundy with touches of that oh so attractive old bruise yellow, the golf ball on the cheekbone has gone, leaving the whole side of my face right down to my jaw tender to the touch ... as I rediscover every time I roll over in bed.
I've been hibernating this long weekend so no one's seen it, but tomorrow life resumes and I will no doubt discover just how effective my concealer is.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Salmagundi

there is nothing connecting this miscellany of images other than the fact that they were all taken this week:
Nadie and Chris about to leave for Townsville [ and see she DOES wear the stuff I make her ]

Part of the cleanup crew

The indigenous flag at the Info Centre on friday:

and the first wattle of winter


[sal-muh-guhn-dee] –noun
1. a mixed dish consisting usually of cubed poultry or fish, chopped meat, anchovies, eggs, onions, oil, etc., often served as a salad.
2. any mixture or miscellany.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

in the wars

I think Bear suffers from a Napoleon Complex.
He has this deep seated need to overcome his shortness of stature by huringl verbal insults at any car, magpie, or passing dog-four-times-his-size

"Bark! Bark! Bark! Yeah, you and what army!"

one day he's going to pick the wrong dog .... or magpie ... or car, but yesterday afternoon it was 'large-nice-friendly-dog-that-lives-down-on-the-corner-with-Hans-and-Anna' who generally ignores the small, annoying barking-mad one.
Anyway, I wandered down to say hello and to try and shut you know who up ...

So there I was chatting to Hans, and Anna had moved on a few feet with 'LNFDTLDOTCWHAA', when I noticed a car approaching ... fast ... and clear indication from MrB that he was going to be on a collision course with its wheels [ the girls renting down the road haven't worked out yet that a narrow gravelled country "road" is not the Calder Park Speedway ]
as he started to accelerate, I bent down and grabbed the only bit of him still in reach, which happened to be his tail.
I can only think that I must've startled him because he shrieked as though all the devils of all the hells were attacking him ... I was still bent over trying to get a safer hold of him, and the next thing I knew a ballistic missile slammed into the side of my face.
LNFDTLDOTCWHAA obviously thought that I was harming the small annoying dog, and he'd bolted away from Anna and leaped to the rescue.

Net result:

I now have a miniscule nick in the fold at the corner of my eye, a bump on the cheekbone the size of half a golfball and a not-quite-black-more-like-purple-or-maybe-aubergine eye.

it's okay so long as I don't touch it, but I have to tell you that it's more than a bit disconcerting to be able to see your own cheekbone without having to look in a mirror

and no you don't need to see a photo

Thursday, June 04, 2009

more Knit-A-Square

The new Knit-A -Square forum has its own resident poet, and I have Tim Whitson's permission to share this awesome effort with you.


Why knitting? With a thousand things to choose
of graver consequence I would have thought
that fickle and departed tart, my muse,
might have inspired a more enthralling sport.

But no. So knitting it would have to be.
Two sticks, a length of string and endless time
to make some sense of purl and plain. To me
it seemed a vague and lonely pantomime.

Initially, the battle with disease
looked too unequal. How could knitters armed
with nothing more than needled yarn appease
that monster, AIDS? How could it be disarmed?

A million and a half (or thereabouts),
unparented, abandoned and alone,
hungry, homeless, hopeless, cold. My doubts
soon set about knitting themselves a home

in my gut – a useless site to stitch.
Faithless me. How could I have forgotten
the internet’s electric talking which
energises fibre, yarn and cotton?

Now suddenly your knitting is a rhyme,
a hand-sung hymn, a symphony of clicks
performed by nimble fingers (unlike mine),
a wall of hope in wool instead of bricks.

I’ve come to like your craft, when once I fought
my mother for the right to be outfitted
in any form of garment that I thought
a million miles removed from being knitted.

And like it more for what it represents:
the thin, unbreaking thread of simple love
that salves the small and poor, without pretence.
Is this the proof I search for from above?

Tim Whitsun
May 21 2009

if you'd like to leave a comment for Tim, I'll be sure to pass them along

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Winter is icommen in...

and the best place to be on a [gloriously] wet grey day is in the company of old and new friends ... and if knitting, crochet, cuppas, chat and good food happen to be part of the package ... well ... what could be better ?
Don't bother to answer that. I know most of you agree with me.

We all foregathered at Purl's Palace in Daylesford for what would normally be our monthly Purl's Princesses knitting group.
You may remember from last month that we had decided today would be dedicated to whipping up some squares for South African AIDS orphans. Zoe had kindly extended it into an all day affair and donated the yarns for us to use as well.

is now a world wide movement - which is my very unsubtle way of pointing out that anyone who knits or crochets can all contribute if they'd like to ... details are on the Knit-A-Square website ... but it happens to have started here in Victoria and chief organiser Sandy - whom I somehow failed to photograph - came up from Melbourne with her daughters Kalai and Cressida [ and I think that wins the prize for this week's most run-on and ungrammatical sentence ]

Zoe and Andy kept us well supplied with lovely teas and coffee

I got to show off the Forest Canopy Shawl which had been speed- blocked after I finished it yesterday
Meanwhile Marg was too busy concentrating on her mitred square
Cressida did her first ever knittingunder the eagle eye of her Grandma Zanny [ and check out Zanny's gorgeous Noro Silk Garden Top ] with Zoe in the background offering moral support and encouragement
Now these are the baker's dozen squares that I handed over today.
... 12 done during odd moments during the month when I didn't have enough time/peace to make it worthwhile picking up the lace knitting, plus the one made at Daylesford today. It's prooved a really good thing to do with all those single balls of this-and-that.

Moggie's Mum may recognise that dark green and the ecru, and I'm not 100% sure, but maybe the pink as well? and I just know that she and Ms Moggie approve of what I'm doing with some of her largesse.

All too soon, as I headed back to Castlemaine, I did briefly contemplate stopping the car for long enough to take a picture of the shaggy black cattle half hidden in the drizzle and the new wee lambs trailing their mums ... but it was too wet so you'll just have to imagine them.