Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nothing to blog about ... but has that ever stopped me ?

I miss blogging for all of two days and get multiple queries as to my status ... and that strikes me as a very good thing.
It's a very comfortable - and comforting - thought that people are watching out for me ...
but there's really no news today
no quilting, knitting, crochet or spinning has been happening [ because I'm procrastinating about the awful moment when I have to come to grips with unpicking the hand quilting on the current project, unbasting it, and changing the batting. Then rebasting and starting over again.]
There was a modicum of gardening, and a modest amount of goat wrangling
but basically I continued to do what I've been doing most of since January 1: namely a lot of reading.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown ( disappointing )
Loving Richard Feynman - Penny Tangey ( Young adult - okay except the weak ending )
From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris
Living Dead In Dallas - CH
Green Mill Murder - Kerry Greenwood
Blood and Circuses - KG
Ruddy Gore -KG
Urn Burial - KG
Raisins and Almonds - KG book 10
Death Before Wicket - KG
Away With the Fairies - KG
Murder In Montmartre - KG
Queen of the Flowers - KG
Murder In The Dark - KG
The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams
The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul - DA
Cocaine Blues - KG
Forbidden Fruit - KG book 20
Dead Until Dark - CH
Club Dead - CH
Skin Trade - Laurell K Hamilton
Seventh Son - Orson Scott Card
Red Prophet - OSC

and yes, I am a fairly fast [ some might say voracious ] reader. I'm also trying to get out of the habit of slouching in front of the idiot box till the wee small hours.
Well, at least when there's no knitting, etc. in the offing :]
It's not like there's actually anything on worth watching most of the time [ although all bets are off once the Winter Olympics starts ]

It has also been pointed out that there have been no pictures of the dawg for a while, so, mainly for Glennie and Moggie, here's a couple of totally gratuitous pics of his Beariness: one taken mid '09,

and here's his Lordship with the current [ half grown out ] summer haircut

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Postcard Project revisited

I've written before about the remarkable Elizabeth McClun

Here is a young and highly educated woman who knows that her time is very limited, and is not only facing that with great courage; she is determined to spend what is left to her in making the world a more joyful place for anyone ... ANYONE ... who makes the choice to contact her and to ask her for a postcard.
About a year ago, I made that choice ... to ask Beth to write to David, rather than for myself, because he almost never gets mail.**
I certainly didn't realise until his first card arrived, that it would be a mini work of art, filled with stamps and stickers to create a complex layer of images.

His cards are the last thing he sees at night and the first thing in the morning.

I'm not at all sure that he understands their significance, but I read each one to him as they arrive and he chooses which side will be displayed and precisely where it will be placed.

It makes me happy because it makes him happy

and then

not so long ago, a beautiful, ethereal postcard arrived

- made of special Japanese washi paper - and not for David but for me

it arrived at a time when I was feeling less than stellar

and then this week there were two more cards ... one each ... but these had been posted back in November and had gotten 'lost' at the post office along with several Christmas cards and some very overdue cards for my birthday. I suspect that they'd probably all been sitting in the wrong box [ maybe an unused one ] and had just been discovered and hastily shoved into the right one.
However it happened, now I have two reminders of Beth's love, compassion and bravery ... and David has three.

Go visit Beth
Read what she has to say.
and ... ask for a postcard. I know some of you will hesitate
but don't.
They say that you don't get something for nothing in this world. That everything comes with strings attached.

The only 'string' attached to this, that I can see, is that perhaps you will make a connection with, and end up caring about, someone that you might otherwise not have met.

** The trickle-on effect:
After the first time that I wrote about Elizabeth's Postcard project, lovely Tracy from Zimbabwe contacted me through Ravelry and then sent Dave a card to add to his 'collection'. Thank you Tracy from both of us.

and just bye the bye - I used PSP - pretty ineptly - to 'white-out' my address, I haven't actually taken to the postcards themselves with the Tip-ex [ just in case anyone was worried that I'd defaced them in the interests of internet privacy ]

Friday, January 22, 2010

what p****s me off

Someone needs to tell the male presenter on ABC News Morning that the l in Australia is not an optional extra
... neither is the t in seventeen

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anyone speak Norwegian ?

The 30-somethingth annual Fryerstown Antique and Collectibles Fair is on again this coming Australia Day weekend, and a fair percentage of the stallholders are already open for a bit of 'Early Bird' action.
There is the usual mix of the genuine and the not-so-genuine, the overpriced tat and the occasional genuine bargain - all covered with a fine, fine layer of Fryerstown dust.

As usual, I set my budget [ and then added an extra $20 'running-away-from-home-money in the back pocket 'just in case' ]
As usual, I ended up spending every last cent of it.

It is entirely possible that there may have been a few purchases of 'not at all antique' blue-and-white china that just happened to match some already in my kitchen cupboards
but that was just bye the bye.
It is also entirely possible that there may have been a couple of things that were vaguely cat shaped.
Also completely bye the bye.

What I was really hunting for, and signally failing to find, were vintage Christmas postcards [ couldn't seem to find vintage postcards of any sort really ]
I was almost ready to admit defeat and haul my hot, sunburned and weary carcass back to the car
and then there they were
on the penultimate stall - and under cover, with a handy chair and a fan - four shoe boxes of old postcards.
Most were only a dollar or two, and joy of joys:
a vast number of seasonal ones, mostly American, and none of them ones that I recognised ... Woo! and, may I add, Hoo!

Somewhat predictably there followed about an hour of me sitting, and sorting, and culling, and counting, and calculating, and checking the contents of my purse to see if the amount of money left had somehow magically increased in the last ten minutes
... at the end of which my formerly quite modest collection of Christmas postcards had increased about threefold.

and yes there are a couple of ring-ins at the bottom

I shall have to come up with a new method of display for next Christmas.
Oh dear, now won't THAT be a hardship?

All of which brings us to the explanation for the title of this post

This card is Norwegian and, thanks to the wonder that is Google, I know that the first bit says " Happy New Year"

... anyone able to enlighten me about the rest : Med Frid Och Hop !

and the moral of this tale ?
It is NEVER too early to be thinking about Christmas !

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finally! - as promised part deux

Back in early November, I posted about the first of a pair of goth inspired gauntlets that I was designing/making for Nadie's workplace Christmas 'do' which was to be held at Witches In Britches Theatre Restaurant
I didn't ever post a photo of the finished pair - and of course there were several pointed requests to see Nadie all 'gothed up', so here she is:
Can you believe that she used to get teased at primary school about her luscious Angelina Joli lips ? Bet those mean little coots are all eating their words now !!

and the knitty stuff for those who care about such things:
Because the gauntlets are constructed lengthwise, working out the matching increase/decrease for the point attached to the finger loop - while simultaneously maintaining the eyelet pattern - was an interesting exercise.
The increase side was easy enough - the YO to make the lace pattern was done without a corresponding K2tog - but the decrease side was a totally different matter. Now I can't remember whether I solved it by doing a YO,K3tog or whether it was k2tog, YO, k2tog. I'm inclined to think the latter and I'll know for sure if I get a chance to have another look at the finished article up close and personal.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jackson Pollock eat your heart out

I decided that Dave needed to spend a little less time in front of the tv today
and I had a long, thin pre-primed canvas that I had no immediate plans for.
I undercoated it in pale blue/grey and then turned David loose with the paints.
The colour choices were mine and I limited his palette to teal, white and copper.
I think he was humoring me as much as anything, but he obliged with a few swipes at the canvas and then got the giggles when I showed him how to make spatters by tapping the brush.
If we'd had a painting session on paper the result would probably be stuck on the fridge, or used as wrapping paper for the next outgoing birthday gift
but instead it is hanging in his bedroom and I think it looks pretty damn good

Isn't it interesting how working on a proper stretched canvas immediately imparts ... something ... a weight ... a validity ... to the result ?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pumpkin Scones anyone?

Last Saturday I felt compelled to make pumpkin scones for afternoon tea ... albeit very heavily modified ones.
Due to the food sensitivities and outright allergies of a certain visitor, we left out the sugar ... and the egg ... and used dairy free margarine and gluten-free flour.

I'm not sure that Lady Bjelke-Peterson would approve ... but, if nothing else, they proved once again, the adaptability of the humble pumpkin scone. Even if they were a bit flat.

Anyway, as that certain visitor wasn't up this weekend, David and I made a batch this afternoon that was a little more in the spirit of the original.

Although I still left out the sugar - pumpkin is sweet enough for me - and there may have been a few herbs ... and just a touch of garlic ... and it was still the dairy-free margarine.
... and I'm not sure what Lady Flo would've thought of the fresh goats cheese that was piled onto the piping hot results


despite the liberties that I took with an Aussie icon, the result was totally soft and moist and completely yummo

and with a nice cup of Lady Grey

What more could one ask for on a Saturday afternoon ?

Aussie Pumpkin Scones

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sugar [ i generally omit this ]
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup cold mashed cooked pumpkin [ Jap or Kent for preference ]
2 cups self-raising flour

Beat butter, sugar and salt. Add egg and pumpkin.
Stir in flour by hand
press or roll and cut into rounds.
Place on greased tray in a very hot oven [ 230C] for 15-20 minutes

serve hot or cold, split with butter

I sometimes add a little grated tasty cheese to the mix, but omitted it this time in favour of spreading them with fresh creamy goat cheese

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stash busting of the fabric persuasion

Six years or so ago, or about the time that the drawer of seasonal prints exploded, spawning an additional large box of bits and pieces, the detritus of 20 odd years of making Christmas 'stuff', I had the bright idea of cutting the smaller bits into random width strips about 6" long.

The aim was to make enough to join them together into a nice simple strippy Chinese-Coins style Christmas quilt, quickly done with the brain more-or-less in neutral.
Then I moved house and they got 'misplaced' ... only to surface just before Christmas '08, when I made a few more, and got as far as pinning them up on the design wall.
... and there they sat until that Christmas was over.

If I'd gone ahead and finished it at that point, it would've been somewhere between a cot[crib] quilt and a lap sized one.

Of course, if I'd done that, you would have already seen it, so the fact that I'm bringing it up now kinda confirms that I didn't give it another thought. At least, not until a couple of weeks ago when I yanked the tub out again.

and promptly decided to discard quite a few of the ones that I'd already done.

Fast forward through intermittent bouts of mindless cutting and sewing:
the' cot quilt' is now a large queen size

and I decided to do a pieced back as well

rather than go out to buy another 8 metres of fabric

At the moment it's just a top - no quilting yet - but it still looks pretty good spread out on the spare bed

It has been CAT scanned and deemed worthy

and y'know what? I didn't buy so much as a fat quarter of new fabric for this piece and that blasted Christmas fabric drawer is still full.

... and I haven't worked out whether I'm really, really late with this quilt ... or doing spectacularly well for Christmas 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anyone care to guess ?

... what the heck this is?

Perhaps it will help if I tell you that these photos were taken [ by Nadie ] immediately before the Christmas just behind us, and represent all of the constituent parts of a little guy who would've really enjoyed hanging out with all the 'cool kids' in my kitchen

[ some of whom are just visible behind that chair ]

were it not for the fact that I then proceeded to completely ignore the pleas for completion issuing from the knitting basket under the coffee table until TODAY ... when it took me all of half an hour to sew the poor benighted little mite together

just in time for him to join his snowy brethren in storage till next Christmas

The last thing that I heard as I shut the door on the shed, was a small voice threatening to report me to the RSPCS [ Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Snomes ]
Should I be worried ?

Snomes by Alan Dart from Simply Knitting [UK] #8
Sirdar Snowflake Chunky
plus scraps of DK yarns for the nose, hat and scarf
4.5mm KP Options

Today also involved reading, gardening, quilting and a modicum of tv, and the absolute minimum of anything that could actually be deemed either cleaning or catering.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's On In Castlemaine

My friend Sylvia Reeve and I spent this morning hanging a few of our pieces in the Phee Broadway Theatre / Castlemaine Library foyer

It was quite possibly the easiest 'hanging' I've ever been a party to.
No recalcitrant quilt stands that wait until you get a whole row organised and then collapse.
No hanging system designed by the Spanish Inquisition.
Just nice sensible gallery tracking that does what it says on the box, and an equally nice, shiny, new District Arts Officer who was prepared to stay and help us. Granted, part of his willingness to stay was because he'd never hung a show using this system and so was curious to try it out, but hey... I don't question a guy's motives.
He was willing to help AND more importantly, he had a much longer reach than either of us AND didn't need to be asked to move the ladder!

you can probably see that tracking over Sylvia's head. Each length of clear nylon - think 'fishing line' but much thicker - has a little metal jigger at one end that fits neatly into the track and those little silver things [ with hanging hook attached ] that you can see just above the quilts move up or down the line and then are screw tightened into place. Just brilliant.
I know a couple of people who have invested in similar systems for hanging their art / quilts in their homes and if I ever won the lottery I think I'd join their number
... but as I never buy Lotto tickets ... well ...'t'aint gonna happen anytime soon :]

Anyway, we hung three quilts each - none of them new - and these three quilts are my contributions

Winter's Song:
hand dyed, painted, printed and stencilled fabric, machine pieced and quilted

Floating World:

shibori dyed fabric, machine pieced, hand applique, hand and machine quilted


[ so called because that's what the Japanese kanji symbol is ]

machine pieced, hand applique, reverse applique, shibori and hand dyed fabric, hand quilted

the final result:

If you happen to be in Castlemaine between now and Feb 10, you can see them in the flesh so to speak
and don't forget to stick your head in the door of the Library and check out the wonderful [ huge ] bookshelf quilt made a few years ago by the Friends Of The Castlemaine Library [ F.O.C.A.L. ] under the enthusiastic guidance of the inimitable Jappa

Monday, January 11, 2010

okay, so I ... and then ... but ...

Well m'dears, the computer is back in action [ et moi aussi ] albeit temporarily until Doctor Chris, aka The Boy, all round computer genius and future son-in-law, has the time to build me a you-beaut-whiz-bang new one.

'd'ya miss me ?

because I have spent the last couple of weeks feeling as though my right arm was missing

anyway the upshot of being unable to blog since Christmas is that there's been far too much H2O under the bridge to even contemplate catching you up properly

the precis version:

Christmas was good
New Years pretty much didn't exist
I never DID get most of my cards written [ and the strike caused the PO to run out of stamps anyway ]
there has been a lot of crocheting - mostly snowflakes for next Christmas - and I've designed a new one which will be a freebie once I write it out properly
I finished a quilt at 1/4 to midnight on NYE
there have been visitors
there has been the ritual post-Christmas cleanup and concomitant annual rethink of the decorating [ ongoing ]
I've read 9 books since NYE
the aircon/heating is in and mostly working, but they need to come back because of a faulty fan and a half-arsed installation job
yesterday was 43 point something degreesC [ 109 and a bit ]
today much the same
the garden is just hanging on by its roots
the goats seem unaffected so long as they're adequately fed and watered and seem to be spending most of their time sunbathing . Silly bloody animals.
I had an echidna visit the garden last night but 't'was too dark for photography so here's one I prepared earlier
... and here's your bit of Aussie Zoology 101 for today: Echidnas are monotremes, related to platypus, in that they are both egg-laying mammals, and have no relationship whatsoever to porcupines. They eat white ants [ termites ] and although one doesn't often see them - being mainly nocturnal and also very shy - it's quite evident that they've been visiting judging by the funnel shaped holes left where they've been poking aroung looking for supper.

so that's about it

'catastrophic fire danger' warnings have been issued for most of Victoria, meanwhile a fair bit of the northern half of the east coast [ Queensland and northern NSW ] is trying to recover from equally catastrophic flooding and the northern hemisphere continues to shudder through one of the coldest winters in living memory