Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thanks, Lynne

A good day yesterday.  Lynne met me at the station near her and very kindly took me to the place she has used for many years  for framing and blocking cross stitch.  The place near here which I have used before seems to have disappeared.  I was pleased to have a recommendation of the quality of their work and I  could see from their samples that care had been taken.

I had five woollen tapestries I discovered when I unpacked the stuff from  Mum.  They had been done by Dad.  I'm not sure how old they are.  He died just on thirteen years ago and had Alzheimer's for about the same length of time before that.  I decided I would have two blocked and framed to give my brother and sister  for Christmas. The woman in the shop was amazed they were in such good condition especially when we worked out how old they must be.  That would be my mother's storage and care.  She was meticulous about such things.

We spent quite a bit of time choosing colours for the mount and then a frame to suit.  Thanks, Lynne, I'm looking forward to seeing the finished article and I'm quite sure neither my brother nor sister will have any idea what's in their parcel.

After I had finished we went for lunch and a chat.  Lynne and I have had email correspondence for quite a while now but have not met before.  We sat and talked about all sorts of things over lunch, particularly  our grandchildren.  Very pleasant.  Then she directed me back through the maze of the shopping centre towards the train station and we parted.  The centre is divided in two parts and while I vaguely knew one area, I was a bit lost.  A train came in as I came down the stairs so I had a good day as far as transport  was concerned too.

I walked past a large fruit market and saw these berries on sale quite cheaply.  I use frozen berries on my morning muesli but was happy to buy all these.  The raspberries were $2.90 a punnet where they are often double that and I don't buy them.  All the strawberries and some I ate yesterday as well, a kilo, cost $5 and I've inspected them carefully. All good.  They are a splash of colour on a fairly grey day here.

So thanks, Lynne.  It was a good day.

Edited to add:   Thanks for good wishes and concern about my son who was mugged. He's making progress but is still off work. His headache has eased most of the time, but if he touches the wound the skateboard axle made on his head, it returns immediately, very strongly. He is to have a scan to see if there is something the original x-ray missed. Doctor seems to think nothing will show up and it will just be time to heal. He's also had some counselling for the trauma.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

baby steps

Baby steps right now for babies.  I did the booties a while ago.  They are a fun easy pattern to knit.  However, I've only just bought some ribbon for them.  The hat is the free pattern from Jussi, called Aviatrix.  It's an easy pattern too.  This is newborn size and I completed it all bar one strap in an evening.  My fingers began to ache or that would have been finished too.  Now I just need an address to send them to in Canada.

Jussi's pattern is lovely to use.  It covers a multitude of sizes and  about four different weights of wool too.  It's well set out and easy to follow.  The hat relies on short rows for shaping.

I think I have just about everything sorted now and have got rid of all the bulky rubbish.  I would normally be at church now but am at home.  I went downstairs to front entrance here to find the inside door handle of the security lock on the floor.  I have no idea how that happened but I think it will need a visit from an emergency licensed locksmith to fix.  Only licensed locksmiths who are registered with police can deal with those locks or the keys for them.

There's a door on the other side of the building but that involved a much longer walk around to the front and then across road to bus stop.  I found it hard  to believe but the bus was early.  I'm used to late, up to fifteen minutes, although I don't rely on that fact, but early?

My son and three grandchildren were here for dinner last night.   He's been miserable and his wife was on a compulsory SES training weekend.  I suggested I'd mind the girls while he and his son went to movies.  I'd been on Friday with a friend to see Johnny English Reborn.  Not what you'd call a great movie in many senses, but friend and I had a good laugh all through and found it a good stress relief. No bad language or nasty scenes for a 12 year old, but lots of action  and chases.  He enjoyed it.

Son enjoyed it too but I was  concerned.  He has a nasty head injury.  He was mugged in the city and hit hard over head  with the axle side of a skateboard.  Middle of last week.  He was on Panadeine forte but his own doctor prescribed another much stronger pain killer as the codeine can raise pressure inside skull and it's sore enough already without adding to it.   We were  fortunate that the injury was not worse, it could easily have been.  Also thankful that the mugger was interrupted by someone coming into the toilet area  where it happened.  Son lost wedding bands, designed by him and made specially, his watch and his work phone.  Another minute or so  and more would have gone.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

almost there

Another reason for little knitting has been the unpacking and sorting of my spare bedroom.  The mess was really getting to me.  It was a mammoth job and I would have appreciated DIL's help.  She's very good at this sort of thing and having someone to talk to is a help too.  I've just vacuumed the floor in this room and feel much better being able to see the floor!

The room is basically done now.  At least what I can do.  The blind is not easy to use and the one in my bedroom is also partly broken.  That will be next on my list.  I can't fix them myself.  I have some boxes of yarn on the floor still.  I intend to do a major clean up of yarn.  Some books are still sitting on top of books in shelving.  Desk is a disgraceful mess and there is some filing to do.  That won't take me long.  It's just making myself do it.  I still have a few broken up boxes to take downstairs but nothing like the number from when unpacking books.
I've also been unpacking stuff from mum.  Some photos are in previous post.  I described this to a friend as somewhat melancholic.  He understood what I meant because on the same day he'd been going through some of his dad's stuff.  Melancholy is not a bad thing at times.  It produced some  reflection and opened up areas which I have kept tightly closed for a long time.  A good thing perhaps.

I did not even know Mum still had these.  Mine.  Rather sweet, I think.  I think  my sister must have had them framed when Mum was in the nursing home.  They have mum's name and room number written on the back.  My small granddaughters were very taken with them.  One is a pink girl and the other likes purple but will take pink too.

Speaking of framing, I found five, originally four, woollen tapestries from my dad.  The workmanship is fine although he was not skilled at  tapestry.  He used to do it on  a standing wooden frame.  My brother does  it tapestry too.  I decided I wanted to frame a couple and give to my brother and sister at Christmas.  Then I found that the people who used to be nearby who did quite good blocking and framing are no longer there. So I did a search and didn't find much anywhere close at all.

I did find one place at the end of one trainline sort of close to where Lynne from Never too Hot to Stitch lives.  Not close as would be thought of in inner-west but I know from my sister who lived many years fairly close that even 40 minutes drive  in places like that is regarded as local.

I emailed Lynne to ask if she knew anything of this place.  Then came a lovely surprise.  She lives close to the other trainline.  She offered to pick me up at the station and take me to where she has had cross stitch framed in the past.  She's very happy with the jobs she's had done there, but it's a bit awkward to get to from the station.  Then we would have  coffee or lunch.  Lovely.  She and I have had an email correspondence for a  while but have never met.  Just lovely.  I'm looking forward to it.

Mum wasn't a knitter.  In fact, she hated handwork of any sort.  When I was a child, my dad made my clothes and mum reluctantly sewed buttons and hems.  A knitted jumper started for me was finished by one grandmother eight years later for my sister.  She did start to knit later in life as therapy for very bad arthritis in her hands.  However she did only beanies and some scarves.  I was surprised to find two knitting bags, one I made for her and the other plastic quilted.  There were odds and ends of wool but I threw out most of that  as it was moth eaten.  To my surprise, there were several dozen needles.  They didn't come from her mum  who was a crocheter who hated knitting.  Some she'd bought herself, I recognised the brand and there was pack of Beehive needles, possibly 6 mm, still in a wrapper marked 0.88 cents.  There were loads and loads of heavy steel dpns, most extremely rusted and corroded.  However I found these in the picture too.  A small tool with ivory handle.  The two pairs of needles on the left are hard to recognise.  They are quite rigid with almost no flexibility.  Metal and quite golden in colour.  The pair on the left are lovely but I won't be knitting with them.  Possibly and old fashioned size 12 or 13.  They look like ivory but aren't.  Strong again and unbending.  I think they are metal with a coating on them.  Some of the coating on the point of one has chipped off, it's hard, leaving a super sharp point which would be too painful on my fingers to use.  They would soon be raw.   What I really liked however was the silver cap.  It is silver and each end has been engraved in a pretty swirly pattern.  No size marked or any other identification given.

And finally one more picture.  Mum's fountain pen which needs attention.  I've been admiring pens lately but don't think I'll get this fixed.  It's very light.  I like pens to be not necessarily chunky but solid and heavy in my hand.  I usually put the cap on the end when I am writing with such a pen to make it heavier and to provide some balance in my hands.  There was probably a pencil with this, but I don't  remember ever seeing it. It's quite a pretty little pen but the lever used in filling it has corroded and is very stiff to use.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

token knitting

Lots of photos  today, but here's some  token knitting as my Catkin shawl is still in timeout.  A friend in Canada has an almost 2 year  old and will have another child in a couple of weeks.  Booties are already done for that one and I think I may have  a baby hat in the present basket.  I decided to make some socks for the older boy.  I'm right out of practice for such a size and my youngest grandchild was a big boy, so what I did for him was no help.  I've finally seen an up-to-date photo, so have a reasonable guess as to size.  The yarn is Heirloom Jigsaw, bought for socks when grandson's favourite colour was orange.  Thank goodness he now likes blue better.  Orange is hard on the eyes to knit and blue yarn is much easier to find.

Here's lunch.  Vegetables are in the loaf and the fruit is on the plate.  I found the loaf  recipe and made it.  Next time I'll spread it into a bigger tin as it has made a very solid loaf.  This slice is at lest four centimetres thick.  There is mashed potato and zucchini in the loaf, although I used kumara.  Cheese, oil are also there. It took well over an hour to cook and is quite dense although the flavour is good.  Slices of pre-boiled potato, more cheese and zucchini are on the  top.  The mango and eight kiwifruit are part of my fruit and vegetable delivery so I've been enjoying a taste of spring at lunchtime all week.  And the Saturday newspaper spread untidily on a chair.  I can't quite crop it out.

Now that I have my books about 90% sorted and most of the amazing mess from them cleaned up and over twenty boxes taken downstairs, I've started on the things my sister sent down from Mum.  Some I threw out.  I didn't recognise quite a bit of it and there was no monetary value in holey tea towels and similar.  I have a suspicion she could not make the decision herself so passed it on to me.  I thought I was OK about doing this unpacking,but in Burwood yesterday I bought a cup of coffee and then found myself eating a piece of very rich caramel slice.  Comfort food.  The old fashioned one made with real chocolate on top and the caramel  from condensed milk.

I have four of these beautiful plates.  My grandmother was born in 1897 and these plates were a  wedding present to her great, great grandmother.  I have no idea of that time but am guessing with those "greats" that it easily could be in the 1830s. The flowers are beautifully done.  There was also a set of lovely bread and butter plates which belonged to the Cox family who made the road over the Blue Mountains in 1813.  I think my brother got those.  There are no markings on any of the plates so I can't identify them as I have no expertise in that sort of thing at all.

The two perfume bottles I've had for years and I'm emotionally attached to the small bowls.  I doubt they have much value but I associate them with a small house in the Blue Mountains and childhood holidays.

The three handled cup in the foreground is a different matter.  The colours are rich and sumptuous. When I tried  to research more into them a few years ago, I could find mentions of English auctions, but very little more.

There's more information around now and I found a picture of an identical cup.  It's made by Royal Crown Derby at their Omaston Road works.  These works are still in operation.  There's a clear marking on the cup and I found a page of dating marks  with a bit of searching.  This cup was made in 1911.

Unpacking and clearing up has taken quite a while and I still have stuff to sort.  I found my primary school reports.  I was a sickly child and regularly had much time off and time in hospital.  I remember being sick but was surprised to see that practically every year, I was absent for 12-14 weeks of school.  That was the equivalent of a term then.  There were three terms/year.  Still at the top of the class.  When I taught, classes were bigger than now.  Classes in my primary school however,  had between 46-48 pupils.  I noted that in third class, the comment on my English compositions was "original and entertaining."  I really wonder what I wrote!  Perhaps I found another conclusion to "we arrived home, tired but happy."  LOL

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


When I was at Birkenhead Point the other day, I bought three lots of material for some summer clothes. Nothing expensive, just something for shopping or around the house. I bought two patterns, first I've bought in many years. One had a selection of tops, the other had a top, jacket, dress, skirt and long trousers. I set out today to make a toile from one of the fabrics I bought. Just as well I did and hadn't cut into the better material I also bought. Look at the neckline and armholes. Yes, it needs a good press but that won't improve the structural problems. The pattern does not have proper facings given. They are just quite narrow strips cut on the bias. They cut into the piece of material I had after the main pieces and have made some awkward shapes there. By the time the bias strips are hemmed and sewn on, they are very narrow indeed. They need interfacing to avoid the sloppy line left around the neck. I'll trace off the pattern and make proper shaped facings next time. The armhole facings have the same problem as well. I also need to trim some fabric from the vertical section of the armhole and make the depth better too. As for the bust darts - they are almost parallel with the waist line.  No support at all for the model and I'm more generously endowed than she is.

 While at Birkenhead Point I looked at some sewing machines as I knew my Husqvarna was not working well. I was disappointed with the quality they had. Well known brands but they did not look well made. Knobs did not turn well and smoothly and the entire machine looked cheap and nasty. Now I have not used mine much in the last four years. A couple of pairs of lounge pants for me from Amy Butler book and some easy skirts for the little girls for Christmas a couple of years ago. Not much at all.  I was having problems with the stitch length changing and with the tension.  Now the tension on this Husqvarna is preset at the factory and should not need adjusting, but it was very poor.

However, today I took it out and had  a look.  M-H from Witty Knitter,emailed me with a recommendation for someone local to service it.  Thanks very much.  I've rung them and they do this brand.  It looked solid and well built and I know it should work well.  Lynne suggested trying a change of needle.  So I've done that and it seems at the moment to be working.  I will get it serviced as it was bought in 1994 and has never been touched.  It could probably use a good cleanout at least.  It was expensive then, $900, so I wouldn't want to pay today's equivalent.  So thanks too to Lynne.

I'll try adjusting  this before I cut out the better material.

I don't eat a lot of meat and I never eat liver  by itself but decided I want to make some pate.  I bought 500 gm chicken livers and made several small pots.  The one in the foreground has been sampled and I've given away another couple of pots.

This one has half a cup of brandy blended into it and a goodly amount of tinned green peppercorns.      It tastes good, although I have only a small amount at any one time.  The recipe is easy.  The worst part is trimming the livers before cooking them lightly.  I wore the thin rubber gloves for that bit.

Monday, 10 October 2011

etc. etc.

A bitty post today with no real cohesive theme. Today I went to Sp*tl*ght at Birkenhead Point. I am still after blinds for my two bedrooms and they had yet another sale announced a day or so ago. The only ones I liked were custom made and I'm beginning to think I might have to go down that track. I've been looking in various sites and online for a couple of months now and not been satisfied. To my surprise, I was over an hour in the shop. I came out with three lots of material for summer tops for me. Nothing special, just something cool and fresh for this summer. That's the problem with stocking up at the one time on clothing. It wears out at the same time. I also looked at sewing machines. My Husqvarna is over fifteen years old. It hasn't had a great deal of use for the last five years. It was expensive when it was bought in 1994, about $900, and it comes with some baggage. I realise now it was a guilt offering, bought to assuage the guilt my then husband felt about something he had done. Now I realise that's something I have to deal with. It's really my baggage. I have done some research and see that that brand and several others all come now from the same stable. I wasn't impressed by the brands in the shop, although they were well known. Many of them looked cheap and nasty and even the better brand was mostly plastic. The knobs felt uncertain and the dials weren't smooth moving. They all had far more stitches than I want. I am not interested in heirloom embroidery or similar. I want basic stitches for woven and knit materials, a good buttonhole and a few other features. I think I will have to get my Husqvarna serviced. When I bought it, the manual said not to adjust the tension. It's not a happy machine. The stitch length is skipping and variable and the tension is occasionally in a knot. Literally. My problem is two fold. I'm not sure where to take it here to get it serviced. It was bought at David Jones in the city. The second problem is that I need to ask DIL to take it for me as I don't have a car and there's no way I'm carting it around without a car. I think a service would probably not be as expensive as buying a machine of the sort I'd like. The picture shows the roof trusses and reflections of the roofing at Birkenhead Point over what used to be an open area.

Here's a beautiful belated birthday present - an amber necklace, made from pieces of amber goodness knows how old.  This is amber from the Baltic Sea, but when I did some research, I found that amber has been found fairly recently washed up on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria in far north Queensland.  There are a couple of commercial sites for it and some scientific sites as well.  I find it beautiful, warm to the touch.  The beads are not identical, some are fat and others almost flat.  There aren't any insects caught in this amber although many of the beads have traces of what could be insect  legs or tiny threads of bark or something similar.

It's a good length, neither too short or too long.  I like the contrast in times.  The necklace made of ancient amber is hanging from my up-to-the-minute LED daylight lamp with its elegant curved design. The second picture shows some of the beads at closer range and if you look carefully, you can see tiny pieces of organic material trapped inside the solidified resin.

I'd love more of this, but I don't wear a great deal of jewellery although I have some lovely pieces and amber is quite expensive.  Pieces of just amber can be bought but I would then need to pay for design and making.  So I can enjoy this bit and dream of other pieces.

Last week I unexpectedly minded three of my grandchildren when their school holiday child minding arrangements  collapsed.  I had a frantic call from my son about 10:00 pm wondering if I could have them the next day.  I would have preferred to have gone to their place.  However I had a delivery booked  for somewhere between 8:00 and midday.  It arrived at 11:55!

So they arrived here bright and early so son could get to an important meeting at his work.  Master 12 wondered if I had a football he could kick around here while we all waited!  Well, no!

Three days before, I had ordered  two felt brooch kits from Cam at Curlipops.  They were intended to be a stocking filler for Miss Nine and her cousin at Christmas.  They arrived  really quickly so I took them out.  Miss Nine is good at many crafts and set to to make her brooch.  She quickly cut out the pattern pieces for the petals, traced them onto the felt and cut them out too.  Cam's sample has the edges of each petal sewn down with a running stitch, but she decided she like hers so they could bend up like real petals.  Her brooch didn't take her long at all.

Miss only just Seven required more help.  She needed help cutting out the pattern as the smallest petal has tight curves and I didn't have child sized scissors.  Then I helped with the felt too.  So the photo shows Miss just Seven wearing her brooch,  She was very proud of it and they both liked the colours.  I've packaged up the pieces and pattern from these so we could make some more with more  felt bought.  Miss Nine intends to pin hers to a hairband.

I've just about given up on the catkin shawl.  I spent most of yesterday afternoon trying to move the other second section.  I had the right number of stitches, I'm accustomed to using a chart.  I understand the principle of a pattern repeat marked out with a border on the chart.  I've used it in several shawls.  I can't get it to work out in real life.  I did it about six times and undid it about six times.  I think I am going to  abandon it  and substitute another pattern.  Then again, I might just put it in the naughty corner till I forget yesterday's frustrations and have another go.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

pass the slipped stitch over

I was reading Lynne's blog and she mentioned she had been to Dawn's blog Sweet as Cinnamon where readers are asked to give an explanation of their blog name in a giveaway. I've been blogging in various forms for many years now. I had a diary at diary-x and, like many others there was very annoyed when the whole thing crashed and we discovered that the owner of the site had no back-up although we had been told this existed. This was really more a diary than a blog and the entry for the day came at what would be the bottom of the page rather than the top like a blog. This was personal and I'm sorry it's gone. I've learnt my lesson. I run a Mac (RIP Steve Jobs and thanks). I use Time MAchine and an external hard drive and my machine is totally backed up several times a day to the external drive. When that fills, the program starts the back up again at the beginning of the drive. Simple and such a source of peace of mind to me. I started another personal blog at Typepad but that's currently in abeyance. while I make up my mind about paying for another year. At much the same time, I came back to knitting and it wasn't long before I found literally thousands of knitting blogs. Most of these at the time were from the USA. I read eagerly and soon had a long list to read. These were mostly called something cleverly linked to do with knitting, so I cast round (pun unintended ) for a name for the blog I planned. So pass the slipped stitch over was born. I used Blogger and have been through several incarnations of this. I can assure those who have problems now that these are nothing like the turmoil and frustrations the early Blogspot could arouse in me and others. For a long time this was pretty well knitting only, but as my life changed, I began to include other bits and pieces. Knitting, whinges, trial, kindnesses, support, grandchildren have all been part of this. About fourteen months ago I bought my own domain name. I looked for something to express how I was feeling in the name but my favourites were taken. The URL for my blog now mentions the passage of life as I moved from one stage of life to another. I still use Blogger to post to this domain. I no longer feel guilty if I don't have knitting mentioned. To feel this way is silly really, it's my blog to write as I wish. However, I do try to keep track of projects. In fact, writing this entry is taking time I had promised to myself would be devoted to sorting out the next stage of my Catkin shawl. Back to the needles!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

eggplant salad

I've been busy for some time unpacking books and shelving them and am up to unpacking some of the stuff my sister sent down after  she had gone through mum's stuff.  I'm sorry to say that some of it  I haven't seen before, some I have no sentimental attachement to.  I wonder if passing it on was all she could do herself at the time.  Now I have to get rid of quite a bit.

So there hasn't been much knitting.  I haven't had a lot of time to spare and constant unpacking heavy books and throwing out bags of rubbish strained my right wrist, so little knitting.  I'm up to the colour change, doing the middle section of Catkin shawl but haven't touched it for the best part of a week.  I think I'll make myself a drink when finished here and peruse the next section of pattern carefully.  When I printed it out, I had a quick glance and found it confusing, but I was tired at the time and would go no further.  Perhaps I've learnt that lesson finally.

I have a box of vegetables delivered.  This saves me having to cart heavy stuff home in the bus.  It's not cheap but everything is of very good quality and the box is delivered by a cheery fellow who puts it on my kitchen bench.  It's probably fairly close to what I would spend anyway.  I really get a small box of vegetables which has some fruit in it and for $10 extra, I get a boost of extra fruit.  Organic eggs, good oils and cheese, pasta and bread are some of the extras available too.

The box before my latest delivery had eggplant on the list.  I really like eggplant.  It was missing, so I rang the business, thinking it may have been an oversight.  No, not an oversight.  He didn't consider the quality at the markets to be up to his standard and had substituted other things.  However, he made a note and this time around there was a really beautiful one in the box, although it wasn't listed as a general ingredient for the week.

This is the start of eggplant salad.  Chopped eggplant, fried in oil and draining on paper.

Into a bowl went some peppery rocket, some cumin seeds, chopped tomato, and some of the Bulgarian sheep's milk cheese which is the nicest in my opinion.  A small box, the one with the green stripe around the lid and the name Kebia.  Add in some chopped black olives and some shredded preserved lemon.  I used what I had preserved a few weeks ago.  I tasted a piece last week and ate a whole piece which I enjoyed, although rinsing would have removed some of the extra salt on it.  As you can see, I haven't been too fussy about getting rid of the lemon flesh.  I enjoy it and will eat it.

Add in drained and cooled eggplant and here's the  finished article with a little extra lemon juice added.  I think I'll have some of this with a piece of steamed fish for dinner tonight.  The lemony flavours should work well with the fish.

It's hard to make  food for just one person, but I'm gradually getting a balance.  I don't mind leftovers, but I don't want huge amounts of them and I'd like to be able to freeze some, rather than eating the same food for several days.

I spent some of last Friday and the weekend up the Central Coast with youngest son and his family.  His wife is an expert hairdresser and does my hair.  I pay her, but it's a better job and cheaper than chancing a salon around here.  I trust her judgment but asked her a while ago about another  colour as I seemed  to be getting more grey!  Unheard of at my early age!!  Not really.

She said there was still too much colour in brows and general complexion but has now decided it's time.  For my birthday she put in lots of blonde foils.  I've had loads of compliments about it so she's repeated it.  While I was never truly blonde, I was not dark brunette  either.  This suits me and actually has made me look years younger.  I've not been really well for about three months, not really sick, but not right.  It's taken a toll and this colour has given me a lift.  I still look twice when I see myself in the mirror.  It's different but in a good way.

Youngest grandchild was amusing.  He'd been in the bush earlier in the week and picked  up a tick somehow.  It had lodged over his spine and my son took him to the doctor to get it out as it was very firmly embedded.  He proudly showed me the little critter which the doctor had given him in a specimen jar. There were no problems and it's healed well.

He also asked me if I would like to hear his SPEECH.  His emphasis.  As he had speech therapy for a year before he started school, this was to be encouraged.  He's also shy, so it was confidence building for him.  He had fourteen pieces of paper, numbered  and in order.  All  about his old cat and the two new kittens.  Apparently it went down well with his classmates and he was happy.  He stood up and basically read from his cue cards, accompanied by a few giggles.  School and speech therapy have been good for him.  Now he can make himself understood, he's not frustrated any more.