Monday, 23 February 2009

a day in the life of me

I've not done much knitting lately.. I ripped out my February Lady Sweater. I went down in needle size to get the right tension and this made it hard to knit the thick wool. When there are several hundred stitches on the needle, it was a constant struggle pushing them along. I was into the lace but decided I didn't want to do anything more. I started a couple of other big projects and ripped them out too. I even tried crocheting granny squares but gave up on them as I lost concentration and made silly mistakes. My mind is on other matters at the moment and I have fairly major meeting with the solicitor tomorrow.

So I've returned to socks which I can just about do with my eyes shut. Oh, I forgot. I did once turn two heels on the one sock and didn't even notice till I was well down the foot.

So here is yesterday which began with a bit of a sleep-in. I've not been well lately, sort of that awful feeling that I'm coming down with a cold, so I decided Saturday night that I would let myself sleep. This is the view from the window in the shower recess. The sill is just the right height to lean on and watch the trees while the shower plays on my back. I don't do it much, I'm usually very quick in the shower, but it was lovely yesterday.

Time for coffee. It's my treat for the day, just one decent sized mug and then usually water till dinner time. Sometimes a cup of tea if it's cold weather. We have a whizzbang coffee machine but it's hardly worth it when there's just me. I use the small plunger for myself and if my son is working from home we'll use the big one. My son buys the beans from a coffee shop owner who roasts his own beans. Much better and fresher than almost anything else which can be bought.

Breakfast is untoasted muesli and fresh summer fruit taken on the balcony. This one is on the middle level of the house and they are all about 18' deep and 15 ' wide. Absolutely beautiful spot to live in the summer time and usable even in wet weather. I have one the same size opening off my room straight above on the next floor up. I have an old lounge and a rather decrepit lounge chair up there. I'll often sit there in the afternoon when I'm home to knit. Tonight the view has been great - lots of lightning to the south and west which is the direction looking straight out.

When I left home, my second son gave me this table and chairs. He'd been looking for some new stuff for himself and forgot he had left a bid on these on eBay. They are from Parker and he paid $60 for the lot. I'll keep the table which extends, but the chairs are in very poor condition and almost impossible to fix properly. I would not have chosen the upholstery myself and the people who sold it obviously did not know how to re-upholster each chair. Still, they stay outside all the time and we use them a lot.

On to some cleaning. When we arrived here, there was a small filthy fishtank in this corner. It belonged to the daughter of the house. Her dad was back here much of last year and he never cleaned it either. We replaced water and fed the fish but really did not want fish in the kitchen. There were three goldfish in the tank. I doubt that they were fed properly before as they grew a lot last year. The tank was on a piece of foam in this corner, right under the microwave cupboard. Fortunately the owner's son came and took them to his mother's pond but left the mess behind . The tank had obviously been there for years and the foam it sat on was putrid and damp. There was a horrible mess under the foam and the aqua coloured glass splashback had a thick coating of gunk which was almost crystalline in hardness. It took me most of the morning to clean it.

Then I picked some herbs to use in lunch. The dark purple one is Thai basil. Last summer we had a lot of herbs which failed to thrive. There are heaps of big trees here and it's difficult to find a space which gets enough sun for herbs. I dragged the pots out onto the path above the drive and they are coping with the light there. I picked lots of chive and some of the Italian parsley.

Do you like the spoonrest? It's been a bottle of Redback beer which has been heated then reshaped. I have always liked wine but never used to like beer till my sons introduced me to good beer some years ago. Redback is nice as are many of the small boutique brewery beers. Not that I drink much of either wine or beer, but I'd enjoy the good stuff. This stays next to the stove and is very handy.

Inside to try to find the flour in the pantry. DIL has just re-organised this, so it took a bit of finding. Now she is 6' tall and my son is 6'5". I'm 5'3" and usually everything I want is out of reach. That was the case again this time and I had to get the steps out to climb up and get it. It's a bit of a pain having to get them out but it saves me constantly asking for help. We've re-organised the cupboards so I can easily reach often-used plates etc. That way I can empty the clean things from the dishwasher and put them away without having to leave them on the bench.

I was making an old recipe, tuna pinwheels. There wasn't much in the house to eat. Not a case of the day before payday, but rather a case of neither son nor DIL making time to do the shopping. I'd made a soup the night before with the frozen hambone from Christmas and some kumara and son added some frozen vegetables and a can of tomatoes to the leftover soup to pad it out. The pinwheels were to replace bread because that too was very low.

They are very easy and adaptable. I made some very basic scone dough, 2 cups SR flour, wholemeal here, some salt, a bit of butter rubbed in. Make into a dry sort of dough with about a cup of milk. Place on a floured surface and pat or roll it into a rectangle, fairly thin if possible. Spread with small can of tuna mixed with some mayonnaise, lots of herbs, lemon zest. Roll up along the long side and cut into slices. Place flat side down on baking paper on tray and sprinkle with grated cheese. I baked these for about 25 minutes at 200° C. They are best eaten fresh. A mince mix could be used instead of the tuna or perhaps some thickish leftover curry or whatever.

Here's the beefed up soup. The tomatoes were a can with arrabiata seasonings in them and they gave quite a tang to the soup which went well with the rolls. As I'd made it the day before, the flavours had had a chance to develop and it made a quick, tasty and nutritious meal for four of us. DIL's mum has been here for the weekend.

Then it was upstairs to my room to play with the trial download of a program for writers, Scrivener. It keeps track of drafts, research, audio and video files and much more. There's the capacity to storyboard one's work. Now I don't know quite what I'm going to use this for, but I've been considering it for a couple of years and figured it was time to at least give it a trial There is a lot of support for it with active forums etc. It's not a replacement for a word processor at all.

Sorry, I just remembered. It's only available for a Mac. I went over to the dark side about three years ago and wouldn't go back to a PC. Son who works with both and who started out with PCs now runs a Mac network at home. He hates fixing his friends' PCs as the Mac is just so much easier on many fronts. Yes, it's different and needs some adapting to. I've been using a computer since the 1970s and love my Mac.

After I had just about addled my brain with the new program, I sat outside on my balcony and did some crochet. Then I ripped that out too. Sweetpea set up a horrible noise near me. She was thirsty. She much prefers to hunt down her water than to use her water bowl. She loves to drink in the shower recess. I turn the tap on and straight off. When the dripping has finished, she drinks.

Sunset from the top balcony finishes my pictures. Every sunset is different but they are all beautiful from here as we look pretty well due west to the Blue Mountains and beyond. The light changes rapidly so I needed to have the camera ready. When the sun gets low like this, it's only a couple of minutes before the light has faded and the sun gone below the horizon.

We went out for dinner to pizza at Chatswood. We don't often eat out here as we eat too well at home. We really haven't found many places we like over here and much prefer our old pizza place. People came to Mario's from up to an hour's travel away.

The place we went to in Chatswood is large and airy. I've been there twice before and it's been fine. Nothing like our favourite, but OK. Last night we arrived at 8:00 pm. The service was rushed and we were barely served our meal when we were informed that the kitchen was closing, did we want anything else. Our pizzas were only lukewarm. I wonder if the chef is the same person as on week nights which is when we've been before when they were quite nice. The place was shut and lights were being turned out at 9:00. We were used to a midnight close.

Still that was my day.

Friday, 20 February 2009

lions mane socks

It's been a while since I did any work on these socks. They are from Donny's lion'smane wool, mentioned a couple of posts down. The insertion lace is a cat's paw pattern with three rows between each pattern repeat, seven repeats on leg and six down the foot. I thought the cat's paw motif went well with the name of the wool. They are resting on a sweet potato vine. Just before Christmas we found a whole kumara in the pantry which had fallen out of its basket and not been used. It was beginning to sprout at one end so, as an experiment, I planted it. It's an attractive vine and has grown quickly. As it's in a pot I doubt we'll get anything from it, but we all like looking at it.

I enjoyed knitting these, it didn't take long to do one repeat whch was only six rows and so they knitted up quickly with a very easy pattern. I've done short row toes many times and usually done a three needle bind off on the outside of the sock. it makes an unusual finish and the join does not bother me at all. This time, when it came around to doing the three needle bind off, I pushed the sock through my needles and did the bind off on the inside of the sock.

The wool was very nice to knit and I enjoyed it. As you can see from the stitches on the sole, it knits very evenly and I enjoyed the well blended colours too. I have some more of Donny's wool in a teal colour and am looking forward to using it. I'm still considering what to do with it. I think my next pair may be from the wool from missyfee which was sent to me in a draw on a comment thread . The colours remind me of the beautiful sunsets we see from here most evenings. I'll have to think of a pattern to do justice to the colours which are lovely

I was also calling these socks Sweetpea's socks. Here are a couple of photos of her. She looks like a miniature lion. She's ten years old and quite small, an Abyssinian breed. She's lucky to be alive. Last October I was alone in the house and heard an odd noise. I went downstairs and two terriers had chased her up twenty five steps and into the house and were mauling her. They flew out as soon as I came down. They had collars and ID chips but no leads so they were either being walked without a lead or had escaped their yard. They looked as if they were from the same litter.

The poor little thing had been critically injured and spent over a week at the vet's with drips etc. She had been bitten badly around the head and had holes in her stomach from the bites. Fortunately these had missed vital organs. One had her haunch in its jaws and had been shaking her. Her pelvis was broken and the muscle had been totally ripped apart. The vet did not think she would survive but DIL told of another time when she had apparently been kicked. The vet then said she was a survivor and would fight for her life. She won this close shave but it was close as she is now ten years old and twelve is an average for her breed. She's recovered. One leg looks odd from behind and she's not quite as agile as she was, but she's still here.

I contacted the local council, but without being able to quote specific ID numbers, they could do nothing. I gave them a very good description and our location but they did no more. We were all upset about this. What if it was a child another time?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

koala having a drink

This is especially for someone from the USA.

Here you are Duchess.

Koala and CFA firefighter.

Friday, 6 February 2009

coral lace blocked

Here's the coral lace blocked and set to dry. That won't take long, once the afternoon sun hits my balcony. It's grown quite a bit and opened up a lot. I was going to take a picture on the balcony wall but it hung over both the inside and outside of the wide brick wall. It's resting here on top of a large plastic tote and hanging slightly over both ends.

I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with it but blocking is a good start. I'll probably end up with the neckwarmer cowl idea and that will also probably mean sewing up the pointed sides. I'm not sure whether it would fit seamed the other way. If it does fit and is all soft and squishy, how much would the points show? Oh well, no hurry in this weather and hotter forecast for the next two days.

The lace pattern came from here. In left side bar click on the top link, The Art of Knitting,1897 patterns. There are quite few lace swatches here and more added occasionally.

I'm well down the foot on the lion's mane sock. Just one more patten repeat and a few extra rows and I'll be ready for the toe. It knits up beautifully, very evenly. I have no pain in the wrist now and have done a fair bit of sock knitting yesterday and today. I think it must have been my technique with more stitches than a scarf or perhaps it was the concentration to not make a mistake. I've not had that problem at all before in many years of knitting.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

finally some knitting

Here we are in February already and I haven't updated for a while. Life's been busy, hot, stressful sometmes, hot, tiring and so I could go on. Did I mention the heat? It's certainly been nothing like Adelaide and Melbourne, but hot nevertheless. My room faces due west and gets very hot in the late afternoon. The balcony outside gets pretty hot too, far too much to sit there and knit.

I have been doing some knitting. I've been practising my lace knitting for Bells' Long Lacy Summer I've done several scarves and bought some lovely lace wool in shades of blue, called Peace from Wired for Fibre. It wound beautifully, no problems at all. The colour in the second picture is a better representation. It is cloudy here this morning, very restful,but the light is poor. The leather lounge is outside on the northern side of the balcony. The glass bricks in the first picture are set into the curved wall with the staircase behind inside. Lots of curvy bits in this Art Deco house.

I decided I would make a stole for myself using multiple repeats from a very old pattern. I've been taking my time with this. There have been lots of other things happening here, including moving my mother to a different nursing home closer to my sister. That was unsettling for everyone concerned.

As I said, I've done quite a bit of lace this summer, some laceweight, with no problems at all. This wool, pure fine merino, is lovely to knit with. I don't know if it's just my arthritis playing up, or my technique doing something larger, or the humidity which definitely affects the arthritis or what, but my wrists became quite sore and I had to put it aside. So sore that occasionally if I turned my arm, the wrist would really hurt. They are better now, but I didn't want to risk further damage. As I finished breakfast this morning, I picked up the stole and cast off before I could think twice about it. What you see here is the unblocked result. The little points up the edges don't show up here at all.

I'm going to block this. I've had a bit of a pull at it both vertically and horizontally and it will open up a lot. Then I'll sew the edges and it will become a cowl or lovely squishy neckwarmer. I've never used scarves and such very much at all till last winter. It's cold here in the mornings, much colder than down on the flat below. It's very chilly walking to the station at 5:30 am. Sometimes it's not really cold enough to have the heating on all day but something is needed around the neck. The house has central gas heating, but takes a while to heat up at the beginning of the season. Last year I was very grateful for the neckwarmers I made and this will add to the choice I have of them.

So I reverted to my all time favourite - socks. These will be called Sweetpea socks. She's the small Abyssinian cat which lives here. Why Sweetpea? The colour of this wool is called "Lion's Mane" and it comes from Moggy and Me. Donny's service was wonderful. I emailed the order mid-morning a few weeks before Christmas and the wool was in my letterbox less than 24 hours later. Australia Post did well, but she had to wrap and get it out. I was very pleased with both this and the other lot I bought. It was called teal, very deep, dark, swirly blue/greens.

So back to the socks. Sweetpea resembles a tiny lion, similar colour to this wool and a small pointy face. No mane, LOL. The motif is an old Shetland lace pattern called cat's paw. So from a large feline to the tiny one and I have Sweetpea socks. A bit tenuous, but I've seen some odd names and reasons for sock patterns! Super simple motif, seven stitches, six rows, no purls because it's knit in the round. What's even better, no pain.

Monday, 2 February 2009

pi blanket

Voilà one pi blanket finished and blocking. Actually it's a really terrible photo and I think I'll try and get a better one in different light with a different background when the blanket is dry. Room had light coming in from wrong direction and the background has sucked all the colour from the knitting. It's actually quite a strong sky blue, Australian sky, not pale English sort of colour.

It's blocking on a black and dark purple king size doona cover and there's not a lot of cover left uncovered. I could have stretched it out even more, but it's almost the size of a football field* already. Admittedly, she talks of making a blanket like this in fine wool suitable for a baby. This is stash wool, Cleckheaton Country, 12 ply. Thick, thick, thick. I used almost the full 20 balls which I had. Quite a lot of stash busting!

I soaked it in the laundry tub for some hours with a small amount of Nutrimetics liquid cleaner added to the water to allow it to penetrate well. Now there was no way I could possibly have rolled this in a towel, so I carefully picked it out of the tub, not allowing it to stretch with its own weight and transferred it to the washing machine. No agitation, just a good spin.

I pinned it out on the lounge room floor and it took a very long time. I have arthritis and I found it a difficult job to do. I knelt on the floor, I knelt on a small soft cushion, I stood up and bent over, I sat on a small stool. Knees and hips protested at all these positions but it needed doing, so I persevered. When I had finished it, I could hardly move for a while. As I put it over the balcony rail, a young kookaburra flew down from the tree a couple of metres away. It sat on the edge of the balcony wall and watched me pull the cover and blanket out. I was about a hand span away from it before it decided to fly off. Very occasionally we will feed the wildlife here but there was nothing I could give it. There's enough bush etc around here and regular feeding is not a good idea as the animals and birds then rely on it.

I'm keeping this for myself. Eventually when I move out of here, I'll probably move up the Blue Mountains or perhaps to the Southern Highlands where I have friends. Both cold spots and it will probably get lots of use. I've been using it unblocked the last few days since the spring weather turned quite cold again. It's been over my legs at the computer and was toasty warm.

*Elizabeth Zimmerman's own comment in her book from which this pattern is taken.

Zimmerman E. Knitters Almanac, Dover Publications, Inc, New York, 1974, 1981, pp71-79,81