Tuesday, 25 December 2012

free pattern till January 1st

I was alerted to this generous offer in a Ravelry group.  Tin can Knits  has a generous offer open till January 1st for a free pattern.  Lots to choose from.  When you have made your choice choose option for discount code and enter SHARETHELOVE in the space.  Checkout will then show  that pattern is free.  I chose a shawl called "Rosebud."  Till January 1.

A quiet day here for me, interrupted by a messy delivery which should have come yesterday.  I ordered a lot of berry type fruit and a couple of small pineapples.  Delivery would normally be on a Tuesday but obviously not on Christmas Day, nor Boxing Day. Basically three days deliveries were squashed into Monday.  A courier firm was used to help with the number of deliveries.

By 5:30 yesterday afternoon I was becoming concerned when the fruit and veg boss rang and said courier declared my address did not exist!  It took about an hour, but I had a promise from courier that I would have it by 8:00 am this morning.

That was fine, I could still get 8:30 bus to church. 8:30 came and went and I sent text to Boxfresh who pride themselves on good service.  Finally it arrived at almost 10:30.  Not happy, Jan.  I asked courier why not the promised time.  Oh, he had stuff to do and was out late last night.  He certainly wasn't out delivering.  I said I had been promised 8:00 and he looked a bit sheepish.  Then I said that a promise was a promise and I had had things to do which had to be set aside.  I got a grunt and he quickly left.  I sent another text to say it was finally here, but I hope they never use that lot of couriers again.  No pride in their work, unlike BoxFresh.

It's been a cool, grey day here and is currently about !6°C here.  A good day for having the oven on at lunchtime.  I've been very quiet and had a snooze to catch up on missed sleep last night.

Hope all had a happy Christmas.

Monday, 24 December 2012

a gift to myself

I have been without a swift for some years now.  I had one my ex-husband made from memories of the one his grandmother used.  However, one of his friends who should have known better, fiddled with it and it broke.   I've tried various methods of winding skeins since that time, none of them altogether satisfactory.  The best was around the end of the outdoor balcony table DIL lent me.  However, not all skeins fitted that.

I was poking around with online shops the other day when I saw that Renée at Suzyhausfrau had brought some in.  These are made in Sweden from birch.  It came well packed in a solid, large, cylindrical postpak.  This will be ideal  for storage for it.  So a gift for myself.  I have a ball winder already so am looking forward to winding skeins in much less time than it has taken me for some years.

As I mentioned in the last post, my son has moved into a townhouse on the Central Coast.  He has a smallish courtyard out the back which is edged by several large hibiscus shrubs.  Miss Twelve took  these two photos.

As usual, the colour red is hard to get an accurate representation.  This looks good as it is, but it is really a deep crimson and an enormous flower too.

The picture below it was also taken by her, both on my phone.  It's a double flower, a bit untidy and dishevelled but quite attractive too.  It doesn't open flat as the red one does.

There's a space where he has put some pots of herbs and a couple of hydrangeas.  The clothes line folds down against the back wall and there's plenty of room for his small BBQ.  Master Seven is very proud that he has used this twice.  Once for chops where he cooked them perfectly without help, and once for sausages which required some assistance as they flared.

Son found a  table on a street pickup.  A glass outdoor one with a metal rim and frame.  Large enough for six, so that was a good find.  The rim around the edge is a bit rusty in spots but the frame is very solid.  He had a couple of outdoor chairs from KMart so he's set up.  He BBQs all sorts of things and does a very good roast in the BBQ. It seems as if Master Seven is following in his dad's footsteps.

There are two balconies, both upstairs.  One is quite a decent width and he could also sit up there.  As I said earlier, it is no more than two minutes from the shops with a good independent butcher and fruit shop, a very large Woolies and Coles too and a KMart.  Lots of smaller shops too.  He can actually walk round the shops or through the shops on his five minute trip home from the station if he needs anything, so it's really conveniently situated.

I've been sitting outside working slowly on my Hawthorne shawl.  It's helping me settle.  The pattern is not difficult, it just requires attention to counting.  The afternoon breeze is lovely and I need the concentration on something other than family.

Now this is Christmas Eve.  I may post tomorrow after a return from church. Or perhaps not.  I'd like to get to the midnight service at church tonight, but I would need a taxi both ways.     Happy Christmas too all and to your family and loved ones.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

bits and pieces

I realised that I spoke  about this book but didn't actually show it in my last post.  This was given me by my sister, bought from a bookshop closing  down in Windsor.  There are lots of different animals and people in it and I think some of the patterns could well be adapted to other characters too.

I've been busy with lots of things and haven't done much, either blogging or knitting.

I went up the coast yesterday for a haircut.  DIL still insists  she will do my hair and I really like the way she does it.  So I'm playing each visit carefully to see how things go.  It was OK yesterday, she seemed almost as usual.  We both kept the conversation  fairly general and all seemed well.  I'll take each visit as it comes.  The next will still be in school holidays so I guess that she will be OK.

My son has moved into his own place now and a load seems  to have lifted from his shoulders.  It's a smallish townhouse but it has a large garage which he will use as a study.  He has mattresses for his children but will buy bunks for them.  Currently they are on the floor when they visit.  I went round there after the haircut and the children went too as their mother is booked for Christmas haircuts all weekend.  They seem to be coping at the moment and enjoy being with their dad.

The place is a bit dated but adequate.  It's about two minutes to walk to the nearest large shopping centre and it takes him  about five minutes to get to the station.  Took me longer, but then, his legs are much longer than mine!

He seems to be OK.  He's speaking clearly and confidently and making plans.  I  think he's better off away from the tension she was causing and several other distinctly unpleasant episodes have also  emerged.  For a while there I felt as if I had fallen into a smelly, slimy duckpond.  He admits many mistakes on his part but she just says she couldn't stay with him any  longer.  That's it.  No discussion at all will be entered into.  Obviously, other factors were there also.  He's eating properly again instead of just picking irregularly at food.  He's up in the morning and off to work instead of sleeping unless someone woke him.  I'm sure there may be some bad days, but it's encouraging to see his progress and the medication is kicking in too.

Along with the  book  above, my sister gave me this little glass tree which is very delicate.  The baubles are also glass and came with the tree.  It stands with my Nativity set  and my Christmas  angel mum gave me "for your Christmases to come"  not long before her death.  A mix of traditions of different origins but I can live with that.  I put my decorations up late and take them down early too.  Tomorrow is the last Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the year in the church calendar.  My mother followed the no decorations till after tomorrow, as her mother had done.  I've been a little bit early.  I find following the calendar like this is an ordered way of working through the year and it suits me.  Nothing slavish, just some  structure to life.  I'll take them down at Epiphany, otherwise known as Twelfth Night, January 6th.

Several places here have had Christmas wreaths on the door for a long time.  I went hunting for the Christmas themed fat quarters I bought at Hornsby when I still lived at Killara.  That's two moves and a lot of water under the bridge since then.  It took me ages to find but I eventually unearthed them.  I also unearthed some Christmas beading and embroidery which I had bought at the Crewel Gobelin in Killara.  I finally recognised I was never going to do them so have passed them on.   It didn't take long to make and it's certainly unique to the doors here.

I have started the Hawthorne shawl which was gifted to me in a Ravelry group.  I haven't done much, the rows are long and I want to be fairly sure I will not be interrupted during the row.  The shawl starts from the bottom edge and decreases in the lace for shaping  and there are then short rows to further shape the body of the shawl.

I will be at #1 son's on Boxing Day and so will DIL's  brother and family from Darwin.  I think I will be quietly at home on Christmas Day for lunch and I'm perfectly OK with that too.  I was last year.  Prawns and some spicy sauce, I think.  We've had our main family gathering and it's been pleasant basically avoiding the shops.

I hope to update again but  will offer my Christmas greetings to all just in case I don't.




Tuesday, 11 December 2012

the slide down to Christmas

Almost Christmas but we've had our family lunch.  It was last Sunday and was the only day we could all agree on, so it was very early this year.  I think there was vague agreement made about the date for next year, but come late October, I'm sure no one will remember what it was.

The day went off fairly well although my poor  son was a total bundle of nerves about DIL's reaction.  I really hoped she had more sense than to be the drama queen at such a gathering, and thank goodness I was right.  This photo is a similar property up the river.  Clearer view by clicking on any image.

My niece and her partner have just bought a weekender only half an hour from their place.  It's on the Hawkesbury River out of Wiseman's Ferry and was bought because it has an approved and licensed boat ramp.  No  more will be allowed on the river..  Now I thought I knew the area but I'd never heard of Leets Vale.  It's over the river, up and over a mountain heading back to Windsor, down the other side and along the river bank back towards the ferry.  All dirt road, heavily corrugated.

Friend and I found it with less trouble than we had anticipated.  We turned into the gateway and were impressed.  Some of the few houses there are cramped but this was ideal.  It's directly on the river  and is an older style house set on five  acres of well maintained park like area.  Lots of sheds etc.  The house is old and has been added to in bits but is quite comfortable.  Lots of seats to watch the birds, sit in the sun/shade, watch the river, relax under a huge old tree.  This is taken with zoom across the river.

Niece's partner had his six year old daughter there and she slotted in comfortably to the group.  The place came with new tractor, three new beds with mattresses still in plastic, one large quad bike and two smaller.  There were several helmets available and it took about thirty seconds  for them to all learn to drive.  Fortunately these were fairly quiet and the area was large and flat.   The kids had a ball zooming around.  There were enough lifejackets for a  trip in the motor boat but a  change came over and there was a thunder storm.  All the photos here were taken in the rain.  Tables for lunch had been set up under big trees but we eventually had to give in and shift lunch to a  covered open area.  This is Miss 8, a poor shot taken in great haste in the rain.

Among gifts from my sister was this book, Stitch London.  She bought it in an old bookshop in Windsor which was closing  down and paid very little for it.  The critter leaning against the book came from a kit in the book and was called Cooey the London pigeon.  The yarn was acrylic, so the wings won't block but flip at the ends, a bit like a 70's hairstyle.  All sorts of different pieces in it, although I doubt how many I will make.

What I will make is Hawthorne in some Lana Gatto 10 ply merino.  The pattern was a Christmas gift from a member of a Ravelry group and am looking forward to it. It's from Twist Collective and I like many of their designs.  It is knitted from lace edge back, decreasing and using short rows to curve the shawl.

Friday, 30 November 2012

some progress

There's been some progress here in a few areas.  No progress at all on knitting front.  I have done none.   My knitting mojo has got up and went!  I have thought about some things but my mind has flitted from one possibility to another and has been unable to settle on any one project.

I think this is symptomatic of all that's happening lately in my life.  Perhaps when that settles, motivation may return.

Son had another blow when he discovered something the other night.  It was something I could never, ever, have imagined DIL doing and it knocked me sideways.  I can't really mention particulars and it wasn't an affair.  Just something totally out of the blue.  As I said, I have warm regards for her and like her a lot.  She's hardworking, kind, openhearted, well organised and another dozen similar adjectives at least.  But this was different and I'm having trouble processing it.

So here we have some cooking, instead of knitting.  I had a pack of pork mince in the freezer  from Butcherman delivery.  This was very finely minced with almost no fat in it.  Rissoles, meat loaf etc seemed very boring.  I also had an iceberg lettuce in the fridge where I normally have mixed salad leaves.  San choy bau came  to mind, so I looked up a few recipes which were all similar.

Brown the mince with lots of garlic and a finely chopped onion.  I also used some chopped red chilli. Add in a tablespoon of soy sauce, I used tamari as it's gluten free so I keep that in house for granddaughters.   A couple of tablespoons of oyster sauce and a splash of tomato sauce if you have it on hand.  I didn't.  One grated carrot and a chopped zucchini go in too.  My zucchini looks remarkably like asparagus as that was what I had.  Stir it all around and cook till done.  When veges are cooked, add drops of sesame oil and some sesame seeds.  As you can see, I had a bit of a disaster  with the seeds and ended up with far too many.  I couldn't scoop them out because they were on a meat mixture.  Actually I like them a lot, so was happy with them, although the amount was really over the top.

To serve, spoon mixture into washed iceberg lettuce leaves and roll to make a parcel.

This was no more time  consuming than making meat balls and I enjoyed it.   I'll do it again.  Can't understand how this recipe was missed as I cook lots of Asian recipes.

I had an advertising email from Beauty and the Bee the other day.  I haven't bought anything from them for a couple of years but  enjoy their products.  The bar shampoo is  very good and I've used several types.  Long lasting too.  A cake lasts months and months.

I had several people I wanted something for for Christmas and it's obviously not going be something knitted this year.  So on Wednesday afternoon I sent off an order.  It arrived here about 9:00 am on Friday morning by courier.  Pretty good from Tasmania to Sydney.  All the soap pieces at the front are free samples, and the little black pot is foot cream, also a sample.

I bought one tin of the calm balm for myself and have used it already.  I was hot, tired and headachey.  It has helped.  I rubbed it into temples and forehead. Three tubs of a solid hair conditioner to rub between hands and then onto hair after washing.  I had almost  forgotten how good their products are.

Very hot up here today and tomorrow will be much hotter.  The heat which Victoria and Tasmania had yestrday has moved up the coast to Sydney.  Temperatures in the 40s° C are forecast for tomorrow.  I have the place closed up and blinds drawn, iceblocks topped up in freezer and easy food.

Some good news.  As I think I said earlier, my son is seeing a psychologist.  He gets on well with her and this GP and the GP works well with psychologist.  This has made a world of difference to him.  This cooperation has never happened in the past and he's given up in disgust.

He went to psychologist for the second time yesterday.  She was  very surprised and pleased with the progress he's made.  What has happened in the fortnight between visits was expected to take two months possibly.  I can hear the difference in his voice when he rings me.  This is encouraging and it's been good to go back to being his mum and not trying counselling as well.  It also means I can genuinely express my encouragement to him and this is also a help to both of us.

Now to get the knitting underway again.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

hot stuff

One of the signs of Christmas and summer to me are cherries.  I love them and the season is all too short for my liking.

These were part of the delivery in my fruit and vegetable box this morning.  They were the same price as Colesworths, as I noted it yesterday when I was in there.  However, the chainstore cherries were about half the size of these, almost all seed probably.  They were also pale and anaemic in colour and these are deep red and large.  I have been very restrained and had only two or three as I unpacked the box.  There were also mangos in the box and I could have ordered peaches and nectarines separately.

I like chillies but with only one person here, I don't use many.  I find that if I leave them in a compartment of fridge door, they are usually quite usable, even if dried out.  This handful was $2 and will last me quite a while.  I may leave the green ones out to ripen a bit more and make some chilli jam. It goes well with cold meats and salads, even roast chicken and similar.

I don't have a recipe handy but there are lots on the internet.  Chillies, sugar, vinegar combined and cooked down.

Things are settling a bit with my son.  He's had some panic attacks and is now seeing a professional counsellor and psychologist.  That means I can  return to being  a mum and not needing to call on my counselling knowledge.  This is a much better arrangement for me and really for him too.  He needs to speak to someone who is disinterested.    DIL is being quite pleasant but resolute.  There are times I feel like a mother bear whose cub has been attacked.  I suppose that's natural, but it's not a feeling I want to have.  I am fond of her.

Son is happy with the psychologist and his GP and the interaction between them.  I'm pleased about this as it is likely to mean that he will persist in treatment.  He did not like the psychiatrist he used to see who refused to discuss different medications.  What he was giving my son was not suitable but he would not change it.  Son is now on an antidepressant and seems happy to take it.

Some years ago I was given a copy of the book by Matthew Johnson, I have a Black Dog. It is a look at depression and its effects.  Depression is shown as a friendly puppy which worms its way into the owner's life and takes over.  On a forum I frequent, one thread was about depression and the animation of this book was linked.  Have a look,  it's fairly short.  I sent the link to my son who knew of the book.  It was this video which finally convinced  him that he needed to seek help.Knitting?  Oh yes, since last entry here I've done precisely one row on a sock.  I have however been thinking about a few more projects.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

groovy grandma rides again

I have a coffee mug given by one of the grandchildren some years ago.  It says, "Groovy Grandma" on it and shows grandma with all the latest gadgets.

It seems I am not as groovy as I thought.  I mentioned my old clock radio, over 35 years old, had died.  I bought a new one on special in Target and came home to set it up.  Groovy Grandma worked her way through the poorly written instructions but finally came to  a dead end and could go no further.  So I put it aside till help arrived.

This was sooner than I expected.  #1 son arrived in cab at my place from plane home from Perth.  He was supposed to be picked up by DIL but she wasn't answering her phone and he waited nearly an hour.  He had a look at instructions and then told me that two other people he knew had reached the same stage and could go no further.  So probably not my fault.

However, he suggested packing it all up again, it hadn't been used and returning it to Target.  So  what would go in its place?  Why an iPad app of course.  So groovy grandma who works her iPad hard in various ways had not even thought about an app.  He recommended Nightstand.  All I needed, I didn't really want  the radio part.  I plug charger into wall, plug in iPad and app displays all night and charges iPad at same time.  It's easy to read and colours and brightness can be adjusted.  This is the free version, so there's an ad at the bottom.  That doesn't worry me at all as I'm asleep!  I will investigate the paid app as it costs only $1.99.  It may have features I would use but haven't thought of.  I returned the purchase yesterday and got a refund, no problem.

On Saturday I was checking the Big W website for some detail.  On front page was an ad for that day only purchase, online only, of a Roomba iRobot vacuum cleaner.  It was a very good price that day so I bought one. #1 DIL has one and I've used it many times.  They work well and it's so easy to set it running every day or so and everything is always lovely.  I have a Vax which I bought several years ago.  It too works well but makes my shoulders and back ache.  I will give it to son.  My place is ideal for the cleaner, small, flat.  It zooms around and  returns to base station to charge again. So groovy gran is back in the saddle.

I went to son's place on Monday and DIL did my hair.  It is fine for ages and then is terrible.  It was son's birthday.  I wasn't looking  forward to visit but it was much better than I expected.  She still wants him to leave but hopes they will get back together again in a few months.  I'm not so sure this will happen but will keep my mouth shut.  He was fine but apparently had a panic attack when she was out after I left.

He is seeing a psychologist today for the first time and will get recommendation for professional counselling too.  I can withdraw from the counselling side which is not really me, although I do know theories etc.  I'd much rather just be his supportive mum.

They are looking for a decent place to rent for him.  There's not much around up there, many to lease are just dumps.  He did find one place yesterday, near shops and trains and a three bedroom town house.  He' s applied.  I hope he gets it.  Panic attacks are very nasty things.

Jill, lovely to hear  from you.  I appreciated your comment.  It's been quite a while.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

not a good week

This has not been a good week.  I  have done no knitting.  It probably would have helped me, it has in the past, but I have ben very stressed and barely able to think straight.  My typing has been terrible, I have burnt food and had little sleep.  I didn't trust myself to knit.

One DIL last weekend told one of my sons she wanted him to move out.  None of us saw this coming and he is utterly sideswiped and devastated.  Two children involved.  Right at the moment she is being very hard about this.  I'm sure this is a protective measure for her so she can continue to be in control. So she thinks. Really, she cannot make unilateral decisions on behalf of four people and not expect there to be protests. I think there is a glimmer of hope but hesitate to say anything as it may disappear.
One good thing is that son has gone back on medications and is now seeing professional help from someone skilled in his disorder.  This will really be needed if she does leave, but it is also welcome as it will strengthen him.  He's also had some good practical advice from a former work mate who has moved from one  area of law to that of family law.

I've been his backstop, we've always had a close relationship although I try to not interfere in any of their lives.  It has meant I have had to draw upon a lot of  resources and skills.  I have  the basis of A Graduate Diploma in Counselling but not the award.  Only the basis.  I have done all the academic side of this as electives in two other courses, but have not completed the practicum side of it.  I found the courses challenging and interesting but I am not really  a counsellor.  I did the course because they fitted with my main area of study.  It's easy to see why doctors don't treat family..  This has been very hard.

Sydney's west had a bad storm on Thursday afternoon.  We had it yesterday in the early afternoon.  One minute it was fine, the next it was dark and I could not see across the main  road outside.  Hail, torrential rain and strong winds.   Then it was gone.  I noticed westward traffic was very heavy.  I later discovered that the depot and op shop in an old building for the Salvation Army had its roof blown off.  It's only a couple of hundred metres from here.  What was worse was that massive amounts of asbestos fibre blew onto the road.  Fortunately it was sodden in seconds so did not blow around, but a huge clean up was necessary.  A nearby car yard lost most of its glass doors and windows.  Tis also shattered on road and over the stock in the yard.

Two mynahs had built a nest in the right angle corner of these gutters.  I thought the baby birds would have been washed down the drainpipe but the birds are still there. Or seem to be.  The parents keep bringing food back, so I suppose the birds are there.


I have been fiddling with my camera exploring using the manual setting only.  There have been some failures but mostly I am pleased with the results.  The jacaranda shown here is at the top of the hill towards Parramatta river.  It's probably a good  ten minutes walk away up the road opposite.  I swapped my smaller lens for the  big 18-270 mm zoom and fiddled with the settings.  I still don't entirely understand the shutter settings and how they work, but I suppose I'll learn as I practise. S you  can see there are still storm clouds around and while it was glary, it was also dark.

I liked the roof angles at McDonalds.  It was McHappy day down there , so lots of music.  Unfortunately also lots of music playing loudly, although I will say it was better this year than last when the beat of the music vibrated right through this building.  Perhaps they angled the speakers away from us.

Farewell good servant.  Getting into bed late last night after waiting to hear from son I saw my old clock radio dial glowing.  I don't use the radio part of it at all, only the clock.  I turned it off and checked the switches.  I couldn't see anything turned on so plugged it back in.  More glow.  I don't know the problem but I was worried enough to unplug it as I didn't want a fire.  Checking this morning shows it's probably dead.  No shame to it.  It was dad's and I've been using it since 1990.  I worked out they had it before building in the mountains.  That happened when youngest son was two, so 1977.  The radio owes nothing to anyone.  I have bought a new one.  All whizzbang in settings and geared to digital radio not AM/FM.  I turned it on and the display popped up with the correct time with no effort from me.  It's mostly set up but I'll need to ask one or another son how to make sure alarm is off.  Instructions are not really clear.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

still here

It's been a strange  week and one I really will  be glad to see the end of.  I was sure I had photos of the knitting I had done, but can't find them, so must have imagined taking them.I was using the new book of socks and testing out various fancy ribs and lacy patterns.  Some of the sock have heel flaps which don't suit my very flat feet and I thought I'd just experiment with what was there.

I did, but don't seem to have the photo, the coronet which is at the top of the cuff of the pattern called ballerina.  It's very pretty, particularly with the scalloped edge hem, although it's hard to see in my variegated yarn.  However, it takes 29 stitches as given.  That means a coronet on the front and back and that's all.  I have decided I like the actual coronet pattern which has several nupps in it and that I would like it around a cuff.  However, I wouldn't do the lace in which it is set.  That would give several more repeats of the pattern.

The twisted rib which goes down the leg of that sock pattern is very easy and quite effective.  Just invisible in the variegated yarn.

This top picture was taken on my phone with  two different types of cloud together.  I found it interesting and the iPhone takes quite reasonable cloud pictures usually.  It's certainly quicker to take photos with the phone than to find the big camera and set it up.  By the time it's ready the sky has usually changed.

The week has been stressful for the family.  Middle son has been working very hard to get his house ready for sale.  It's been a big effort.  They had a lot of "stuff."  Don't we all sometimes?  However, it's been cleared out and repainted right through.  However the effort and a new job learning situation has tired him out.  He's been getting four, perhaps five hours a night sleep  for several weeks.  The house is now on the market and they've found one they would really like in the next suburb up.  It went to auction last Saturday but son could not bid as bank did not have papers ready.  It was passed in with no bids except one from the vendor, so son is pushing bank so they can make an offer.  It's in the suburb where all the children will be at the same school next year.  This will mean no before and after school daycare will be needed and the school's sliding fee structure will use the care money saved and will cover the extra two girls' tuition.

So if anyone wants a starter home in the western suburbs, have look  here.  Its just too small for them but is in the quiet end of a pleasant cul-de-sac with good neighbours.

I've been experimenting a bit with some different salads.  This one has been good in the warm weather. There were three large, good mangos in my fruit and  vegetable box.  I've chopped them into cubes, sort of, added some chilli, mint, parsley and juiced a lime over the lot.  I could have put more mint in as a contrast and lemon would be good if you didn't have a lime.

It's very refreshing and I finished it off tonight with some hot chicken.  The two went well together.

I've also been experimenting with using the manual setting only on my big camera.  I like the petunia, it's so white.  This photo turned out OK but some weren't to my satisfaction at all.  

Edited:  I wasn't happy with what I had written.  Suffice to say that some family relationships are under great strain and several of us are very stressed.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

a week in review

So what is the difference between taking a frisky puppy for a walk and taking a seven year old to the zoo?  Not much in terms of distance covered by either.  Last Sunday I left early to meet most of the family for my birthday outing to the zoo.  This had been postponed four times since late August for one reason or another.  DIL persisted and most of the family made it last Sunday.  We would have called it quits if this had fallen through.  Christmas is rapidly approaching and the family gathering is December 9th.  Early, but the only date we could all agree on.

Little boys are like puppies.  Here, there, back again and then down to the next exhibit.  Then do it again. I didn't get a lot of decent photos as the day was very cloudy with a lot of smoke haze.  There were three controlled burns on the Northern Peninsula and one which  was uncontrolled.  At 9:00 am, the smoke swirled over the harbour and all was grey.

Eldest son and wife were there, myself and his younger brother and wife and their two children and the friend of Miss twelve.  It was quite hot but not as bad as the day before.  The zoo has many shady trees and there was a breeze off the harbour.

We had lunch near the elephants and this is Master 7 climbing on one of the Thai elephant models.  His uncle is bending taking the photo and his dad is in the background with white sunnies.  Note the care taken of his back.  He is bending knees not leaning over.  We all brought our lunches and drinks.  Zoo food is prohibitively expensive.  However we did splurge on Calippos and Paddlepops.

We saw lots of exhibits, the Komodo dragon, lots of snakes, the big cats.  The Sumatran tigers were very beautiful but were asleep on rocks after lunch.  Some of us went to the snake workshop, my grandson among them.  He was the boy who last year talked about nine legged spiders with the extra to hold up the head of large spider.  They watched the seals play games.  We saw the condor on a pole and very much more.  Miss Twelve and her friend tried to look suitably bored all day but really enjoyed themselves.  Miss Twelve had a meltdown once. She feels grown up but is still a child and she had wandered off and no one had any idea where she was.

I remembered the  elephant rides I had enjoyed as a child.  I don't remember the seats being quite like this arrangement but I suppose there must have been something similar.

As I said, we arrived there early.  I left home just after 8:00 am.  I arrived home a few minutes before 6:00 pm.  I was exhausted and glad in a  way that the earlier dates had been cancelled.  I realised my hips would not have coped at all a few weeks before.  As it was, I was very stiff on Monday.  For those not from Sydney, the zoo is built on the side of a  very steep hill overlooking the harbour.  Many of the paths now zigzag but there are still steep spots and lots of walking.  Leaving the zoo and walking down to the ferry was quite steep.

I'll pass over the next couple of days where I had a nasty tummy bug.  I did manage  to complete the first Hickory sock in this very uninspiring shade of grey.  There should be another pattern repeat down the instep, but I knew I couldn't finish one more repeat before the toe and the tummy bug cut my concentration very drastically.  I'll do the second sock and offer them to my eldest grandson as bed socks.  His uniform socks are now a different colour and I know he loves warm socks on a cold night.  Quite the opposite to me.  On the occasions when I try bedsocks, I find they are kicked off and I don't even remember kicking them off.  Even if the weather is really icy, I don't use them at all.

The pattern is a travelling rib and would have looked very much better in the original deep purple I had chosen for it.  That was the yarn which was really hopelessly entangled and which I threw out.  I had not wound even a quarter of the skein and that had taken many hours.

Just before dinner tonight I wound this Fibranatura 100% washable merino.  370 yards.  These shades were similar to the yarn I pitched out.  I bought this at the Granny Square, the offshoot from Morris and Sons, once Tapestry Craft.  Their little shop is on the site of the Former Champion Textiles shop in King Street , Newtown.

Here are some of the colours.  I'll be interested to see how they knit up.  I had two skeins of this, bought several years ago.  The first pooled dreadfully and I was unhappy with it.

Off to bed I think.  The bug has gone but I'm still tired from it and today I had another trip to the audiologist in town this morning.  Congestion behind one ear drum is still there.  Really, I doubt much can be done, but he's a very pleasant person, trying to help, so I will take his letter back to my GP and see what he has to suggest.

Friday, 19 October 2012

... guilty m'lud

Guilty?  Yes, guilty to throwing out some lovely sock yarn.  The lovely yarn I had started to untangle last week resisted all efforts to produce anything usable.  I spent somewhere between 8-10 hours over the week, concentrating on untangling a horrible mess. I think I ended up cross eyed more than once as I traced the path of the tangle.  After all that time. all I had to show for it was a ball, perhaps 5 cm in diameter and a still enormous tangle which seemed to never decrease..  Yesterday I threw it out.  I could take no more.

I pulled the box of sock wool from under my bed and picked out the first solid colour yarn on the top.  Quite  a contrast, not Patonyle but similar.  I have used this in the past and it's hard to knit but but comes up well with a wash and is long wearing.  It's school grey.  I think I had planned on making eldest grandson some school socks, but he changed schools and colours.

I started the Hickory sock in the book Cindy gave me.  I see she's also done that but it was what I had planned when I thought the tangle would be wound quickly.  I started it last night and am now part way down the gusset decreases.  It's a quick knit, although I too made the leg shorter.

About the only thing I've found to criticise in that book are the charts.  Some are quite large and they are fairly cramped on the page.  DIL commented that I would need to use son's photocopier and enlarge them on that.  Yesterday I took a photo of the instep and leg charts for Hickory.  Downloaded them into Evernote and  from Evernote on my computer it was pushed automatically to iPad and iPhone which both have the same program.  Away we go with the iPad.  A few moves of the fingers and the chart is now readable.  Brilliant.

The picture shows two charts, or parts thereof.  There's quite a lot of detail in them and they really need to be bigger to be used easily.  This was the sock just after lunch today.  I've now turned the heel, even did a heel flap and am decreasing for the gusset on the foot.  I decided to follow the pattern, so did the heel flap.  I thinks it's the first time in several years that I've done one.

I found this magazine in Coles today.  I rarely look at the magazines as I find that something to flick through while I have coffee can easily run away with money.  However, I had heard of it from British knitters on the ravelry group concerned with  Kerrie Allmann's broken promises and non-delivery of goods.  And much more.  Her latest venture is apparently run by a family member.  Too bad he died many years ago.

Mollie Makes isn't cheap.  An overseas subscription copy costs about AUD $12, even with a large discount factored in.  It 's fairly thick and looks attractive with a lot of clear photographs.  However, while it has lots of ideas which seem up to date, like fabric flower decorations, there is not a lot of substance to it.  Quite a few fabric crafts are covered.  Several pages are devoted to a camera strap made from triangular patchwork.  The strap is shown attached to a fairly heavy camera.  It's too wide and would fold in  two and be uncomfortable.  It's backed with light canvas but there is no interfacing in it for strength.  It also needs a sliding quilted, padded piece for comfort on the shoulder or neck of the wearer.  DSLR cameras are heavy.  My Nikon is heavy even with a smaller lens in place.  The big  18-270 mm lens makes it very heavy.  I use a solid Sunsniper strap which is very comfortable and secure, much better than the original strap.  It has steel running up the inside of the strap so it can't easily be cut.  It attaches with a carabiner clip which sits camera on my hip, a comfortable place for it.  If I want to use it the camera slides up the strap for action.  Nowhere near as attractive as the patchwork triangles, but many times more practical.

There's a pretty crocheted garland draped around a baby's cot.  There is a warning about no leaving baby unattended while garland is in place, but why put it there in the first place?

Current good nutrition advice suggests eating as many different coloured foods every day as possible.  That doesn't mean differently iced donuts. These are some of the different colours found in my fruit and vegetable delivery on Tuesday.  There were more green pieces which would not fit easily in the photo.

As a child I did not like either watermelon or rock melon.  Now I eat both.  The watermelon did not last long as I find it's better eaten fairly quickly.  I didn't want it going slimy, even kept in the fridge.

Friday, 12 October 2012

leek and pancetta tray bread

Leek and pancetta tray bread, great for picnics, lunches etc and good served either hot or cold with salad.

I'm going to Mittagong tomorrow and made this to take for lunch.  The recipe is easy, it just takes some  time for the dough to rise.

It's been a while since I made it and I'd forgotten how nice  it is, so I've given you the recipe too.  Don't be put off by using yeast, it's really easy.  I've also given some alternatives at the end of the recipe.  These alternatives were usually a case of not having the original ingredient to start with.

You can use a bread machine for the dough and you could substitute a pizza dough recipe, although I like this one.  You could mix it all up in a mixer, I use the Kitchenaid, or you can mix yeast and liquid in traditional manner and make as recipe suggests.  They all work.

Leek and pancetta tray bread.

Dough

  • 90 ml water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 25 gm soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast.
I put all this in the Kitchenaid and mix well  for 5-10 minutes adjusting water.  This is an English recipe and our flours are drier than English flour.

When mixed, cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise about 40 minutes.

Filling


  1. 1 large or 2-3 smaller leeks finely chopped
  2. 30 ml olive oil.  This tastes better than sunflower or similar
  3. 75 gm pancetta, finely chopped *
  4. 140 ml sour cream **
  5. 70 ml milk
  6. 2 eggs
  7. torn basil leaves
  8. ground pepper

Heat oil and cook leeks and pancetta gently till leek is soft.  Set mix aside to cool

When dough is risen, roll out on floured surface and place on tray lined with baking paper.  I roll mine thinly and it covers large tray.

Place cooled leek mixture on top spreading over dough.

In a bowl combine eggs, milk and sour cream.  Beat with fork till combined. Pour gently over the leek mixture tilting tray to cover.  This makes a thin custard mix, not something like a frittata..

Bale in preheated oven 190 c degrees.  I used 160 as my oven is fan forced and runs hot.  About 30-35 minutes.

*  I have used ham, bacon, pancetta or coppa.  Personally I think all are good but I prefer pancetta.

**I use sour cream, buttermilk, yoghurt or even milk at a pinch.  All work. This travels well sliced and packed in a flat container and is good the next day too.

The deep orange bits are tiny bits of pumpkin I cooked with the leeks.  I wanted to use it up.   There is also a very light dusting of freshly grated reggiano cheese on the top.  Very thin.

What weird weather.  34 ° C last Friday and no more than 9° C here today.  Heavy snow, blocked roads etc and this is well into October.

I went shopping yesterday for the pancetta.  As I walked I realised I wasn't limping for the first time since the beginning of August.  A few twinges here and there, but no limping.  I am very thankful.

No knitting news here yet but I'm trying.  After the shocking pink detailed below, I was determined to use stash in a colour I really like.  I dug out some deep purple, a gorgeous colour, deep royal purple.  Imperial purple perhaps.  I opened the skein and before I could even stretch it out to wind, half of it collapsed in  what I have seen called yarn barf.  The second half looks fine but the beginning is one large tangle.  I've been working on it on and off for two days now. I still love the colour, but it's so rich that when peering deep into the tangle to see the next path for the yarn my eyes tire very quickly. Twenty minutes at a time is about my limit.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

ooops!

I joined eBay some years ago.  I have not bought much from it but have usually been pleased.  I've won a few auctions and just missed out on some others, even using last minute bids etc.  I've bought quite  a bit of yarn, especially Patonyle sock yarn.

The second hand Steelcase office chair has been a good buy.  As I sat on the old chair, I could follow distinct pathways where it was uncomfortable.  This is great, although I am still tweaking some of the adjustments.  No pain and great back support.

 About three months ago, perhaps four, I was browsing  when I saw  new copy of the NZ Edmonds centenary Celebration cookbook.  I have several old cook books so decided i would buy this.  I paid for it and was a bit careless in checking the default delivery address.  It went to PO box for my son and DIL.  Of course, I thought it had gone astray and after about three weeks let the seller know.  To my surprise, a refund was in my account the next day with no problems.  DIL finally remembered to tell me a book had arrived for me, so I contacted the seller and paid him a second time.  He was surprised I didn't just take the book without notifying him.

She came over this afternoon to help me collect a heavy parcel from the post office.  She brought the book and told me I really didn't need more cookbooks.  She is, of course, right.  I opened it up and the book was obviously new, no marks or stains or indications of turning pages  etc.  However, you can see what I found when I opened the first page.  I've erased both sets of names!  DIL thought I should return it, but it's weeks since it arrived and does it really matter?  I daresay the sentiments in the greeting on the page have not been fulfilled.

Sorry about the photo.  Cover is hard cover, very shiny and the light was poor.

Ooops!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

the little engine that could

The little engine puffed up the hill, its boiler almost bursting with the effort.  "I think I can, I think I can," it repeated to itself as it made its way up the slope.  Suddenly it reached the top and saw the down hill run in front of it.

"I knew I could, I knew I could,"  it sang over and over happily.

That's somewhat I feel like about these socks.  I bought the yarn around this time last year and I think the socks were started possibly January or February as back up knitting for in between bigger projects.

I grew to dislike them immensely.  I hated the colour and did not realise it would be so bright.  I like purples but I've never been much in favour of pink.  I hid them in the back of the cupboard with knitting stuff and they would fall out occasionally when I took something out.  I sat them where I could see them.  That meant I just ignored the pink presence.

The last few nights I've actually taken them out and looked at them.  Occasionally I've done a few rows.  Then last night I convinced myself to get a move on.  I promised myself that I would not start something else till these were finished.  There really was not a lot to do before toe decreases started.  So last night as I watched the architect George Clarke on the restoration of two ancient towers in Britain, I worked on the socks.

This morning I had a delivery of meat from the Butcherman due between 9-12.  I did the decreases,grafted the toe and voilà, I was finished.  Look, they are even identical twins.  I really don't care particularly if stripes don't match.  These do.

 I think these will go into the present box, I don't think I could bear to wear them.  It's a bit rainy today so possibly tomorrow I'll give them a quick rinse and put them to dry.

I knew I could, I knew I could.  Just like the little engine. I just had to do it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

the cruel hard world

Look at my lovely surprise which arrived about an hour ago from the Book Depository.  It was sent to my by Cindy 2 paw and it could not have come at a better time.

I think I mentioned stress here.  I won't mention what it is just in case someone should find this, although I really doubt it.  A situation here has arisen which has caused me very much stress and distress too.  My family laughed at the ridiculous, ludicrous statements till they saw the effect on me.

This hardcover book reminds me of the River Cottage bread book I bought some months ago.  The author obviously knows her onions, as the saying goes, or perhaps I should say socks.  Like the bread book, there is a large section at the front which could basically be termed  theory, covering many aspects of yarn, tension, fit etc.  The bread book has 70 pages of theory to start with, and although I've made bread since I was about 10, I learnt a lot from it.  A glance through the early pages of Clara Parkes' book suggests  that I will learn much here too.

Here's a quote about handknit socks which I loved. 
socks are intended to protect our tender feet from the cold, sharp edges of the world.
Spot on!  That's just what I feel when I put on my handknit socks. They feel comfortable and cared for. In fact, my feet are now uncomfortable in commercial socks.   There is a lengthy section on the purpose of well fitting socks and how the sock will last longer if fitted correctly.  That would be an incentive for anyone who puts hours and hours into knitting a sock.

So thank you Cindy.  I'm going to get a lot from this book, and when I've finished the theory, there are lots of lovely patterns to try.

My body has been tired from  stress, grandchildren and now the switch to daylight saving.  I love daylight saving, but find it takes a while for my body to adjust to the extra hour of daylight, or perhaps to the loss of an hour's sleep at the changeover time.  I remarked to a friend that if mothers were the government, then this change would not have been last weekend.  School resumes today.  Pupils and staff have to settle in to a new term and also to the change in times.  Not very sensible to have them at the same time.

How dirty can an eight year old get?  These feet walked heel to toe around the perimeter of the roof garden here.  It was actually a good thing.  Miss Eight is very clever, but rather flighty.  She counted the steps it took and had to pay attention.  When we came back down to my front door, I allowed her to step into the tiled entranceway.  I ran some soapy water in the bath, just a bit.  She managed to step from hallway, around corner and onto bathroom tiles without putting her feet on my carpet.

One thing the photo shows is that she did not inherit my very flat feet.  She has my reaction to sticking plaster and bandaids or similar, a nasty rash with icky looking blisters, but the feet definitely are not flat.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

still life by spring

I am pleased to have made it this far.  Granddaughters have been with me since the weekend and my hip has had trouble keeping up with them.  Lovely girls, though Miss Just Eight is a handful.  Life exists for her benefit alone, although this is not an encouraged point of view at her home.  She's a bubblehead and it finally dawned on me that although this may be an unconscious decision by her, it is a way of coping.  She's the youngest.  She's quite intelligent, but being an airhead means she pays little attention if it's hard.  No, she doesn't do homework, said with a giggle and a shrug.  She lost her homework book, so she just doesn't do it.  No one expects her to do much as she's so airy fairy so she gets away with it.  She's changing  schools next year and I suspect this change may be a rude awakening for her.

They go home today.  DIL called this morning and has taken them swimming for which they weren't prepared.  They have a strappy top each and some shorts and it's hot.  They'll be fine.  She'll treat them to lunch, call back here and collect stuff and take them home.  That is very welcome as son is having trouble fitting in things today as plane flights back from Brisbane keep changing.

I had an artfully posed photo of food from fruit and vege delivery.  However, I can't find it in downloads and can't be bothered searching.  This is a bell apple from  far north Queensland.  I had one in the delivery but could have bought more at 500 gm/$8.  Expensive and I don't think I'll bother, but they are quite small and have little in the way of a  core.  It was very juicy but with an extremely crisp texture.  I cut it into quarters.  Miss 8 didn't like it, she's fairly conservative but Miss 10 and I enjoyed our pieces.  She likes different foods and we have to be careful as she is definitely the coeliac.  Gluten slips in all over the place in much food and she knows how ill it makes her.  Hospital and all before her diagnosis.


Just look at this! we had a quiet day here yesterday.  Nails are painted in assorted rainbow colours, lunch was a picnic on roof garden here and I showed them how to knit.  It was all too much fuss for Miss 8 but her sister loved it.  She watched me, I helped her do a row and she was off.  Took it out to the balcony by herself and has now done about 15 cm of a scarf  for a soft toy.  She was so confident that by late afternoon she lay on  the lounge with knitting on her chest. She knitted as she watched TV and did just fine.  Her mum can knit so will be able to help her.

Another one  joins the ranks!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

finished

I finally have a finished object.  I spoke to my daughter-in-law about the cowl for my son.  Would he like it?  Would he wear it?  She decided that yes, both questions would be answered in the affirmative.  I've finally finished it.  It's far too big for me, but he's very tall and has a long neck.  Two strands held together of what seems to me to be lightweight fingering.  Swan Island organic merino and baby alpaca mix. It's very soft and feels good next to the skin.

I have made an i-cord edging both top and bottom to stop the edge stretching.  It's firm but not tight and makes a neat edge to the cowl.  It still needs blocking, I've been slack that way lately.

Thank goodness DIL has cut my hair since I took that photo.  The cut was several weeks overdue.  There was a great pile of clippings on the floor when she had finished and the colour was quite different too.

I do wear some pink.  The blouse in the first photo is an Ollie and Max pink stripe.  But I prefer other colours to pink.

I think that's part of the reason I have had so much trouble finishing these socks.   I could not tell you how long they have been on the needles.  I know I bought the wool when I went with Lynne about a year ago when she took me to get dad's tapestries framed.  I started them as  my go-to knit for when I wanted a change or had nothing else to do and my guess is that it could easily be ten months since I started.  Instead of a go-to project, they turned into "avoid these at all costs" lot of knitting.  I was determined to finish them so have been working doggedly at them.  I have only a few centimetres to the toe of the second sock.  They are blindingly pink.  However, not long  now and if I settled to it, I could probably finish the knitting tonight and leave the grafting till tomorrow.

School holidays week 2 up here.  Grandson, I can hardly now call him Master 13, he's so big, and his  mum are catching the plane  tomorrow to Brisbane so he can play soccer in an under 14 State team.  He's been appointed co-captain and is extremely proud and excited.  They are hoping to sell their house soon and are painting.  So I have the two girls from tomorrow.  Son wants a free run tomorrow afternoon and the holiday Monday.  I'm a bit iffy about this.  He's always telling me that they amuse themselves very well, and that's true.  If so, they could still be at home.  I realise I need to have them from Tuesday to Thursday as he will be working and DIL will be away.  I did point this out to him but he overlooked it.  I wouldn't normally mind, but while I am very much better than over the last few weeks, I am not yet right.  I told him to tell them not to expect  outings every day because I just could not cope with it.  My hip is much better, but I'm still not walking quite properly and that has been putting  strain on my back and tiring me.  So they will be here tomorrow morning till Thursday sometime, not sure just when.  Miss 12 and I did lots of things in summer holidays when she was here for a few days.  My grandmother and I did lots of things too.  It's a grandma thing, I think, but these two girls will have to catch up another time.

I think a licence may be needed to work this chair.  There are very many adjustments possible.  The armrests have four possible adjustment.  Just armrests!

My computer chair has had a lot of use.  I've used it for the last almost five years and I  think it was first bought when my son set up his first home office some twelve years before that.  I think it may not be contributing to back and hip problems, but it's not helping.  The hydraulic lift mechanism is on the way out, the seat no longer tilts and the back can't be adjusted.  The padding in the seat is breaking  down and it's very uncomfortable to sit on.  I would fix that if there were no other problems.

I asked son for a recommendation.  He downplayed Officeworks and found one of these on eBay.  I had found another with a tall moulded back but he insists he would have bought one of these if available when he bought his last chair after back operation.  He said these are the Rolls Royce of office chairs and he'll buy it from me if I don't like it.

You can see more about  them here at Steelcase chairs.  There was no way I was paying that sort of  money but he found a grey one on eBay.  Auction finished at 1:00 am last night so I set my top price and won!  He says the model I have won is closer to $1400 and I paid a good deal less than a third of that.  Seller will drop it off here on Monday afternoon, another reason I can't take granddaughters out.  Seat tilts and can be made longer and shorter according to length of thigh, back has lumbar support and tilt adjusts and more.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

snuggly cowl

If at first you don't succeed, try again. I had a post written, pictures posted, published pressed and off into the ether it blew, like leaves in last week's gales.  So I went off and made myself a lovely spring lunch with freshly squeezed orange juice and I'll try again.

I had to go into the city for a hearing  test last Friday.  My hip was incredibly sore and I could hardly stand.  Even though it was almost 9:00 am, the train was absolutely packed.  I had to stand all the way and I could hardly hobble when I left the train.  Fortunately, it has suddenly cleared as mysteriously as it descended three weeks ago.

My hearing was not good, it's been made worse by the congestion in my sinuses, something I've lived with since childhood.  It will improve and I'm hoping the warm weather helps, but the doctor has threatened Prednisone, a steroid.  I hate the stuff, have had it before and would do almost anything to avoid taking it.

After returning to the station from  audiologist, I found a kiosk selling jonquils so in self pity, I bought these.  They were only $5 and lasted quite a while.  I'm experimenting with camera settings here.  Decreasing the light allowed in  causes the depth of field or background to show with greater clarity.  Here I've done the opposite.  I think the aperture setting on a bright morning was f4 and you can see that the glasses and little bird are blurry.  Deliberately so.

More camera experimenting here.  I was  fiddling with iPad and exploring on it and opened Photobooth. There are settings there for special effects.  This one is called mirror image and there are others which take subject in a swirl or with parts of the subject poking out.  Both those looked quite wrong with a portrait but I thought the mirror image was interesting.

I took Lynne's advice about knitting a cowl instead of metre upon metre of scarf.  So I ripped out the scarf I'd been doing for my son and started this cowl.  The organic merino/baby alpaca is still being held double and this is over half the cowl done.  I've done baby booties with a similar stitch but nothing larger.  This is five rows garter stitch alternating with five rows purl.  It pulls the fabric down to have the purl rows standing out.  The yarn is beautifully soft and will be cosy around the neck.  This is not a good photo.  I'm holding the edge down to give more idea of the size and holding the camera in the other hand.

I wondered about the edge and what to do to strengthen it.  I could see  that pulling at it to arrange cowl might cause the edge to stretch.  So I've done an i-cord cast on.  I thought about how to do this and tried something I had thought of.  Then I found that there is nothing new under the sun  and someone else had already written a similar method up. I cast on three stitches (or whatever you want for the i-cord.)

Move those three stitches to left hand needle.  This means yarn will be behind the furthermost stitch for i-cord.  Knit front and back into the first stitch and then knit remaining two stitches.  There should now be four stitches on righthand needle.  Transfer three of these to the lefthand needle and repeat process, knitting front and back into the first stitch, and then knitting rest of stitches.  When you transfer three stitches back to left needle, you will now have two stitches  on right needle.  It's slow if you want a large umber of stitches for garment, but it works as you can see from photo.  It's not a tight edge but it's definitely more substantial and firmer than just a cast on edge.  I've been working out how to do a similar cast off.  I'm sure there's stuff on the net, but the actual cowl knitting is very easy and I'm thinking while I knit.  I'd like  to work it out myself as I did the cast on edge, even if I find it's another reinvent the wheel sort of thing.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

son's scarf

These are the two  skeins of organic merino/alpaca yarn which I bought from Suzyhausfrau in Canberra. Great, quick service once again.  Each skein has 500 yards in it and is described as fingering.  I think my mother would have called it college grey in colour.

I wound one of the skeins to make a long scarf for my eldest son who is very tall, 6'5".  As I started the scarf, I realised that I would not call this yarn fingering.  It's more like sock wool, perhaps Patonyle in thickness, although certainly not in softness.  I was using 4 mm needles and the material was beautifully soft and snuggly but the needles were too big, making the fabric unattractively sloppy.

So I went down in needle size.  As I plugged away at it, the prospect of knitting this amount of yarn on those small needles hit my brain.  It would take forever. So I ripped it out.  I didn't have much to show for the time I'd spent on it, perhaps six or seven centimetres.

I wound the second skein and started again, this time using the two strands together with 4 mm needles again.  Much better indeed.  It's still soft and snuggly, not at all stiff in drape but certainly a good deal quicker to knit.  This picture shows the beginning of the scarf.  I wondered about a pattern.  Son likes things fairly plain, but metre upon metre of garter stitch did not appeal much.  I wouldn't do stocking stitch as it would have needed  a wide border each side to prevent rolling.  I've done the one row rib scarf before, but again did not want to do that again, nor loads of moss stitch.  So I'm alternating an inset of stocking stitch  between the garter  stitch.  It still won't be a quick knit and somewhere down the line I'm sure I'll grumble about the slowness.  It will be lovely to wear. Warm, soft and cosy.

I get annoyed when a good idea or workmanship is spoilt because of something small.  This is my clothes airer which I use both inside and on the balcony.  Or actually, the picture is half the airer.  The other half is full of underwear.  I'm not my mother who hid her undies on the line between rows of other clothes, but I have deliberately omitted them here.

The airer is strong and light.  It is lower than my balcony railings which make it quite legal  for the by-laws here. It's easy to use and folds down to a fairly thin piece which I  store on the balcony behind  my spare outdoor chairs.  It holds a lot.  The chrome is still in good condition, like new.  However, the manufacturers have let themselves down.  The rivets they used to hold pieces together are going rusty.  Very rusty.  Cheap  and nasty materials have spoilt a good concept.  I've seen similar designs but of inferior  quality.  This one was twice their price and I'm disappointed in the manufacture.  Of course, I've long since thrown out the piece of cardboard which was around it with manufacturer's name on it.

Since I hung out this small load the sun has disappeared and it's become very cloudy.  Hope it all dries.  I may have to put it in second bedroom where things dry fairly quickly.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

lavender blue, dilly dilly, lavender green...

Part of the chorus from a song I learnt many years ago when I was a child listening to the ABC children's show on radio.  I've already posted a copy of my Argonauts' members certificate some time ago.

Spring is definitely in the air, despite the snow at Bowral last weekend.  August winds still linger on at times and they have been very strong through the week.  I think half the western plains of NSW have  blown onto Sydney.

However the air feels different, it's spring.  Blossom can be smelt and the wattle is blooming deep gold.

I was in Colesworths yesterday.  They had pots of daisies, lavender, small tomatoes etc and shoppers were clustering around them like bees to the honey pot.  I bought a lavender to go with the rosemary which I bought a few weeks ago.  However, they had no larger pots.  I'll have to walk down to the hardware shop for something to transfer this to.  Actually, they  had no pots at all.  That particular shop is a bit of a dead loss.  The same shop in another suburb is about the same size but better laid out and with a much bigger range of goods.

The small bowls are part of a belated birthday present.  I had a voucher given me as a birthday present for Howards Storage.  I like a lot of what they have but it's a bit like walking into a good stationery shop, a trap for the unwary.  However, the voucher had only another couple of weeks to it, so I went in.

I found these bowls which are actually measuring cups.  The largest is 250 ml, one cup.  My measuring glass is getting well past its prime.  It's tin, not glass and the painted numbers are almost illegible as it's quite old.  So I bought these.  The cup can go on top dishwasher shelf but not in the microwave.

The design is rather neat.  The outside white is a firm material, plastic of some kind.  The inner red is a soft material and with the break in the plastic, the cup  can be gently squeezed to make a pouring lip.  This photo's a bit blurry.  It was hard to hold heavy camera steady with one hand.

I still haven't blocked my baby alpaca shawl with yarn from Suzyhausfrau in  Canberra.  In fact I haven't done much actual knitting at all this week, although I've thought about what I would do next.

On Tuesday, Grandma Flea came to see me and I gave her some yarn for the Epping Library Knitters.  I had a big striped bag of mostly wool, although there was some acrylic, not much.  Acrylic burns my fingers so I rarely buy it.  When I said I had the wool to donate to making squares for rugs and other small projects  to give away, I was given a box of needles, lots of wool, some of it small balls  and some larger amounts as well as some knitting and craft books.  So Grandma Flea braved the streets around here and we sat and talked for quite a while.  It feels good to have passed yarn onto people which will use it.  Apparently their supplies were a bit low, so they've had a boost.

An email through the week brought news from Canberra of this yummy looking  organic merino and alpaca mix.  Just look at the beautiful colours.  The service is very good so I bought two skeins.  My son will probably be in Europe for a while in their next winter so I thought I'd do a scarf for him.  He's 6'5" so there is quite a lot of knitting in a decent size scarf for him.  I loved the raspberry colour and the one called thyme but can't quite see him in either!  He likes his charcoal alpaca hat I made a few years ago.

The wool may seem expensive but it's fingering and has over 500 yards in the skein, so about the usual.
The service is super quick, so I'm anticipating its soon arrival.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Are those snow clouds, mum?

We used to spend the winter holidays in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.  Those holidays were then in the last week of August and the first week of September.  In other words, now.

We stayed at Lawson in a tiny house which Mum and Dad later bought as a home while they built next door.  Lawson is usually too low to get much snow, although I was there some years ago when everything was covered reasonably heavily.

Our question was always hopefully asked of Mum when we travelled higher up was, "Mum, are those snow clouds?"  Mum and Dad both grew up in Lithgow where my grandmother lit the fire in March and kept it going till November.  Lithgow is in a funnel shaped valley which runs north/south and can be bitterly cold, with snow and icy winds from the south.  Why we never asked Dad, I don't know.

I was reminded of this last  Friday.  My friend and I went to the Southern Highlands for our annual weekend away with other  friends.  We went driving on Friday afternoon in the cold.  we were really just sight seeing, not going anywhere in particular.

Late in the afternoon we turned down the road to Wombeyan caves.  We passed vineyards and studs, all with beautiful houses and well fenced paddocks.  I  haven't been down that way for possibly thirty years or more.  We'd heard the road deteriorated rapidly once houses had been left behind.  Overhead were dark purple clouds and rain started which turned  to snow.  Light admittedly, but snow.  We reached  the turnoff to Joadja, the old ghost town once a thriving shale mining community and decided we would be stupid to continue.  So we turned around.

It was freezing with a strong cold wind so we headed back to the motel. Other people also reported snow on the Saturday morning and today's Herald mentions Bowral as one of several places where it snowed over weekend.

Saturday was very cold.  The temperature about 8:00 am was -4 indexed  down in accounting for wind to -7.  It didn't get much warmer for some hours.

Sunday was warmer but I was tired.  My hip was sore and I had tossed and turned.  Then at 1:30 am, I was woken by a bright light and a loud noise.  My TV in my room had come on and was playing something about the start of the Beatles.  I flew out of bed, if it was loud to me without hearing aids in, then it was very loud indeed.  I finally had it turned off but didn't get a great deal more sleep that night.  At first I thought that some really "clever" person must have  turned the timer on.  However, I hadn't used the TV at all and it hadn't come on on Friday night.  One of life's little mysteries.  When we handed keys in we reported it and I saw the manager coming down to investigate as we drove out.  My friend is going overseas tomorrow so we mad a fairly early arrival home as he had odds and ends to sort.

I sat on the lounge till I smelt smoke and got up to investigate.  The unit on floor down and one across from my place had smoke coming out of it.  In no time flat, there were three fire engines from three different brigades there, along with an ambulance and paramedics and about a dozen police.  I know nothing of the cause or the extent of the damage.  I would go on balcony and take a photo and then come back for a breather.  It took quite a while for it to be extinguished and firemen worked  from the front balcony, about four metres from mine but lower and when I went out my door, there were more firemen inside using one of the buildings many fire hoses as well.

They had breathing apparatus on.This morning they had a normal household hose over the balcony syphoning water down into the garden.  Possibly this was cleaning up. I think it would be hard many hours later to be able to syphon off enough to have the hose really running.  Top picture shows smoke when fire was almost out.

Picture on right is of the last fire engine coming up from the underpass at the end of our building.  That was blocked by two appliances.