Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where do the weeks go?  The last few weeks have been so busy with ill children, an ill husband and the need to get things done on the house that I haven't been able to blog for a ages...

It has been so cold in Perth the past couple of days.  Perth winters tend to be a few days of real cold ((less than 10 degrees max) and then a week of warmer weather with the occasional rainy period.  So I should be used to the cold weather but it shocks me every time!  The new house hasn't performed as well as I had hoped in terms of staying warm but the fact that I haven't made the curtains for all of the rooms other than the bedrooms probably plays a big part in that.  More curtains are somewhere on the list of things to do!

We all went to the beach yesterday after swimming lessons, it looked so sunny and inviting to be outside. Doesn't it look gorgeous?  What the picture doesn't tell you was how cold the wind was!  I went to the local supermarket and we had a picnic lunch on the grass which was a lovely break from our usual weekend roster of doing things around the house.

I did finish the jumper for Princess and managed to grab a photo on the one occasion she has deigned to wear it.  It turned out pretty well and should fit for couple of years.  I'm considering making tiny versions for her dolls in an effort to get her to wear it.  The pattern should be easy enough adjust!

I have almost finished off a baby blanket for a friend.  Just a garter stitch rectangle but I love the colours.  (It has just occurred to me that the colours are a bit Dockers and I think they might be Eagles fans, oh well.)

One of the many fine things about having my parents back from their travels is that The Dude and I get Thursday nights to play at being sophisticated grown ups.  Last Thursday we met up in the city and went to the Picasso to Warhol exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA.  How they managed to swing such a fabulous exhibition for little old Perth I don't know but it was fabulous and there are another five exhibitions to come.  The Dude and I have been fortunate to have travelled in our (much) younger years and we have been to MoMA twice so we had seen some of the exhibition before but not curated the same way.  The focus seemed to be to show the 14 artists' development from regular-looking still lifes and landscapes to the weird and usually wonderful art they created at the end of their careers.  I still don't get Warhol or Mondrian (The Dude and I had our usual discussion/argument about the merit of Mondrian) but I loved Matisse's colours and Duchamp's cheekiness.

And then we went for dinner at Bivouac Canteen - very nice.  Lovely cocktails (always a winner with me) and delicious food.  Yay!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Airport knitting

My lovely parents have just come home from a ten week trip to the other side of the world, aka England, to see my brother and his family.  While they were there, my nearly-70 & 74 year old parents walked 250 km through hilly terrain in France.  They are awe inspiring people - I hope that I m dong the same at their age!  I love the fact that they just get on and do it.  Mum realised after they started the walk that when they hope to finish the whole walk (it's 750 km in total, they have broken it up into three parts) Dad will be 78.  How's that for an active retirement?

I volunteered to go and pick them up from the airport, at 1230 am.  Nutty decision given how tired I am but I knew I couldn't sleep thinking about them trying to find a taxi and get themselves settled at home in the middle of the night.  Weird that I think they are quite capable of walking through countries on their own where they don't speak the language but I don't think they are up to getting a taxi from familiar airport rammed with cab drivers.  Of course, I was there far too early and settled in to do some people watching and knitting.  I was working hard on the jumper for Princess I mentioned here.
I got loads done - there's really not much to see at Perth airport in the middle of the night except inappropriately dressed people who have just landed from Bali and  not realised that it was going to be 4 degrees.

I've now finished the jumper and will post some pictures if I can actually get Princess to put it on.  Again, I can thoroughly recommend the pattern if you want a jumper/dress/top that will knit up quickly and mindlessly - a good in front-of-the-telly knit.  I suggest not doing stripes (I changed every 8 rows, there were sooooo many ends to weave in) or either doing much smaller ones (say every 2-3 rows) so you can carry the yarn up the inside or even really big stripes.  Anything to avoid all those ends.  Given that this was just supposed to be an everyday wear type garment, as opposed to something special, I probably could have picked up the spare yarns in a stitch every couple of rows - a few bumps up the side would not have mattered.  Next time!

I am now onto long overdue baby gifts.  The gifts are overdue, not the babies.  I have to talk myself into sitting down and finishing them, preferably before the baby in question turns 1!  Tiny things in tiny yarn, sigh...


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When gabions come before knitting... (DIY gabions tutorial)

A quick trip to the hospital and a week of bed rest followed by a weekend of hauling rocks in the front yard have combined to keep me away from the computer.

Look at the beautiful DIY gabions The Dude and I made in the front yard!  I thinking I carried about 500 kg of limestone from the courtyard to the front yard.  It was my job to put the stone in against the mesh so that it looked nice (The Dude is more of a chuck it in any old way kind of guy).  Basically it was the same as doing six jigsaws with no picture and more pieces than necessary.  But the effect is lovely.

Now I just need to get the garden planted, which means cashing in the housewarming present from my lovely brother and sister-in-law, who offered to do a bit of the garden for us.  Aren't they lovely!  If you are like the gabions and would like to do make some yourselves, they are quite easy, though a bit of work.

DIY Gabion Tutorial
First, cut out some welded grid mesh (ours was 100mm x 100mm) to the size that you need (a reason for The Dude to buy an angle grinder, any excuse to buy a power tool!),  wire the grids together to make boxes (obviously leaving the lids off), put in some wire cross bracing to stop bowing (we put ours near the bottom, nearer the top would have been better to make it easier to fit the lid), put your rock in and then put the lid on.  If you are going to use the gabions as a retaining wall then you should wrap the sides that are going to be in contact with soil (back and bottom in our case) with geofabric to stop weeds coming through and stopping salts leaching up while letting water drain through .  We got our gabions as kits from here but the shipping to Perth from Sydney was a bit of a killer so we will make any more that we might need (I'm thinking of a very smart letterbox) from scratch.

The rock is very local limestone, as it was the rock that was dug up and saved when we were building the house (our house is literally built onto stone).  That saved us a few dollars and made me feel warm and fuzzy for not wasting resources!

I have been plowing through the knitting in the evenings.  I finished the retro throw for my friend Wendy who has moved into her new home.  Being invited to a housewarming afternoon tea sure helps get the knitting needles flying!
And Princess doesn't have enough jumpers for this winter, so instead of buying one I am knitting one up super quick.   I'm using a top-down, raglan pattern that's all in the round, which makes things really easy - no seaming.  The pattern is this one and the yard is Moda Vera Pure Wool from Spotlight in (unsurprisingly) pink, another pink and a soft lime green. I've added an additional 10 stitches at cast on just to make the pattern a bit bigger and I'm judging how far to knit down before I split the sleeves from the body by trying the jumper on Princess as opposed to achieving a certain number of stitches but it's basically this pattern.  There is a nice eyelet detail made by doing yarn over increases and I think this pattern could easily be adapted for larger sizes, just change the cast on number of stitches and the number of rounds before splitting the body and sleeves.

I'll post some pics when it's done.

Have a lovely week every way - enjoy the Jubilee celebrations if you are in the Old Country! x

Friday, May 25, 2012

I want a Dora cake, with chocolate wheels...

Today was the Princess' birthday.   She has worked out what birthdays are all about - presents and cake - and put in her cake order early (on Little Soldier's birthday in January).  A Dora cake with chocolate wheels was in order.  To explain, Little Soldier's cake was a Thomas the Tank Engine with chocolate covered biscuits as the wheels, which were obviously a hit with the Princess.  So this afternoon I stretched my limited drawing skills to the limit and came up with this...
I found the picture on the Nickjr website here and belatedly thought when I was about to add Dora's eyes that it would have been much easier and more accurate to roll out fondant icing in the appropriate colour, trace the necessary shape onto it, cut it out and put it all together like a jigsaw.  Then I would only have to pipe on the black outline.  Next time...
It is beautiful here at the moment, a very cold 2℃ at night but fine and mid-20s during the day.  Just look how lovely it is...

I took these as Little Soldier and his cousin played in the river.  And then I made a conscious effort to put my phone away and enjoy the sunshine and their delightful little boy play (mainly chucking things into the water).   And a pair of dolphins came past - I'm glad I had stopped fiddling with my phone!
I haven't been getting to my WIPs at the moment as I just don't have the time but hopefully I will get to them over the weekend and get a couple of late baby gifts off of my conscience. And the I can get started on this
 which came from this

Slight problem in that the pattern is in French, but I'm sure I figure something out!

Have a lovely weekend! x

Friday, May 18, 2012

Busy autumn days

Such a beautiful autumn day today, which made the mad racing around I did much more pleasurable. Sneaking a look at the sky never fails to lift my spirits when I am doing chores.

Everything in my garden is what my mother calls survivors - old fashioned plants that survive or even thrive on neglect.   Not much attention has been paid to the garden since we moved back in, and indeed not much was paid in the five years before we built the new house, but some plants just seem to soldier on and provide pleasure regardless.  How kind! Here is a climbing rose that is in the backyard, next to the old outdoor toilet.

And a washing line full of clothes bathed in bright sunshine - a sight that fills my housewifely heart with joy.  It was a beautiful washing day today, bright and breezy, no need to race out to the line when showers threatened!

Part of today's list was to make a curry for Sunday night family dinner.   My favourite is a recipe from  Rick Steins Food Heroes called Mumrez Khan’s Lamb and Spinach Karahi. Delicious though like most curries a decidedly unattractive brown. There is a paprika in the recipe - I love a reason to get my paprika tin out (on the top left). Why a couple from the 70s is on a paprika tin is a mystery but they look so free and breezy, the paprika must be fabulous!

These are my mothers day flowers from last Sunday.  Don't they just look so bright and cheerful! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Too many UFOs

I have had a long and tiring week this week with not too much movement on many of my WIPs. To get some perspective, I took photos of everything that I have on the go and was somewhat dismayed by the results...

Sweater Vest for The Dude.  This will be a long time before completion, seeing as he doesn't really want it.  Don't ask me the obvious question - why am I making it???

Retro Throw Rug for my friend Wendy as a housewarming present.  Wendy hasn't moved into her new house but it is going to a close run thing to get the throw ready.  I only have two sew two block in and then do the edging but it's the finishing that always takes the most time.

Stash Scarf.  I love doing stripes with variegated wool, watching the different colours come up next to each other.  This is very much a stash buster scarf that was small enough to take with me when I went out with the kids.  No need to finish it anytime soon but I am getting a bit sick of the sight of it, it will definitely be going into the present box.

Baby booties for the current crop of babies.  These shouldn't be too hard or take too long but I am personalising them with their initials in the soles, so I could be creating another monster for myself.

Stripey Scarf.  This is one for me (it's rare for me to make something for myself) so I want to get it finished to wear for the winter that is so rapidly approaching.

There is also a rug for Princess that is packed away and so many sewing tasks. It's all a bit disheartening at the moment, I'm sure I will be back to high levels of enthusiasm when I've finished the throw and the booties.  But I have ordered a knitting pattern from Canada that I desperately want to do for myself.  And the pattern is in French, which I speak not a word of beyond 'non parlais francaise'.  Oh dear.

Do you have a box of WIPs/UFOs - otherwise known as works in progress/unfinished objects.

What I have completed this week was a Peter Pan costume for the Little Soldier.

To explain, it is Mothers Day this Sunday in Australia and I was invited to a tea party at kindy today.  I was to dress as a fairy or princess and Little Solder had to dress up too, no superheroes allowed!  A call to the turn on sewing machine if ever there was one.  I found this lovely tutorial on Ashley's blog Make It and Love It.  Ashley has loads of fabulous tutorials, if you are a sewer sewist (have just seen how the word sewer looks in print and now understand where the strange word sewist comes from) I thoroughly recommend having a look. And yes, I am the type of mum who makes things big and says 'but you'll grow into it'.

For my own costume, I managed to borrow a flowery gown from a friend - it was a bit sad to look in wardrobe and find nothing, short of my wedding dress, remotely princess-like (ignoring all the smart work dresses which could pass off as Kate Middleton-esque).  I've never been much for pink and girly but wearing a proper frock was lots of fun, along with Princess' tiara and all the necklaces I could find.  Little Soldier thought I looked great and served me scones and cake.  It was lovely!

To all the mothers out there, Happy Mothers Day on Sunday.  No matter what you might think some days, you are doing a fabulous job!

To my own mum, who at nearly 70 has just embarked on a 10 day walking tour in the south of France, independent of any tour group and with just my dad for support and company, I love you, you are fantastic and I can't wait for you to come home. x

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Birthday Season

April and May is birthday season.  My adopted Mothers Group kids are all born in April or May and there are a couple of the mum's birthdays too, along with the family birthdays of Princess and her cousin.

I had a strange moment standing in my local KMart the other day, choosing all sorts of merchandise (Ben 10 pants and pencil case, Fairies knickers, Princesses tiara-making kit) - I remembered making a promise to myself before the Little Soldier was born that I would not participate in the merchandising of my kids or any one else's.  In previous years I have been able to stick to this pretty well (including a basket of crocheted insects and butterflies that I sat up until 1 am the night before finishing - I almost didn't want to give it away!) but it seems that 15 kids parties in four weeks grinds down the resolve to buy non-Disney gifts. And to be honest, the kids like it...

Party food is a strong childhood memory for me, a chance to get all sorts of treats that we wouldn't normally get, and sausage rolls were definitely a party requirement along with fairy bread and cupcakes.  Homemade of course - my mum was not one for shop bought when she could do it herself, a trait which has definitely been handed down to me.  Here is the platter I took to a party on the weekend, with the centre well filled with tomato sauce.

I didn't make it through the front door before the parents were helping themselves.  Apparently I'm not the only one who remembers homemade sausage rolls!

I have been furiously knitting up my scarf that I mentioned in my last post whenever I can find a few minutes - I am only mum at swimming lessons who knits as opposed to playing with her smartphone.  I started the scarf thinking that I would do a ripple pattern, using the fabulous one by the lovely Lucy at Attic 24 (here's the post).  But the rows were too thick for effect I was after.  So I went back to a 1x1 rib on circular needles so I can carry one yarn up each side of the scarf.  Fortunately I taught myself the continental way of knitting so ribbing is not too slow but I have noticed that my tension is definitely looser on my purls compared to knits, so I end up with a quite bumpy fabric.  Hopefully blocking the finished product will help.

It is definitely autumn here, the days alternate between absolutely gorgeous sunshine with moderate temperatures and days like today - blowing a gale with clouds scudding across the sky, occasional showers and a definite need to keep the ugg boots on! At least all the wind means the clothes on the line will dry as long as I make it out there before the showers hit.  Here is the view from the balcony today...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

At home alone

Poker night for The Dude means a quiet night at home for me.  Tonight I watched one of my favourite films, Bright Star by Jane Campion.  Not only is this the type of film I like to watch when I am on my own - slow, quiet, visually beautiful - but also because the main female character sews all her own clothes, by hand, beautifully.  If only I had days to while away, hand sewing and floating around Hampstead Heath...

I got this film out of my local library, which is the awesome City of Melville library, AH Bracks.  I don't go as often as would like, but I swear they get in at least two new crafting books every month.  Yum yum! Plus there is a huge kids section with jigsaws to keep the little ones amused I try to decide which eight books to take home.  If you have a local library, support it!

I've decided to start yet another knitting project, a stripey scarf using these two colours of Moda Vera Pure Wool 8 Ply yarn from Spotlight.  I want a nice flat reversible stitch for this but don't want to do K1P1.  Any suggestions? x

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm in love...

A strange place to start my blog but I have to declare that I am in love.  Obviously with The Dude, Little Soldier and Princess.  But my feelings for my new toy, an iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner (or Daisy as Little Soldier has named it) are pretty strong. The Brand New House has all concrete floors that I fail miserably to keep clean so having something to beetle across the floor and pick up all the dust and dirt is wonderful.  When I went back to work the deal was that I would have a cleaner but I can't find someone I'm happy with so this is a partial compromise (anyone know of a gadget that will clean the bathrooms???).

This afternoon Princess was at Nan's house (bless all grandparents who volunteer to have their grandkids) so Little Soldier and I went out into the garden (or rather wasteland that will one day be a garden).  He's not too happy to be out there on his own, so I took my knitting and a cup of tea, perched on a footstool and enjoyed the fresh air.

I'm knitting a sweater vest for The Dude.  He doesn't want one but he's getting one anyway and he is such a good hubby he will wear it.  It will be grey and navy blue, as low key as I can manage. I've completed the waistband, now just lots of circular garter stitch - perfect for mindless knitting!  I'm using two circular needles at the moment, but am considering transferring to one to make things quicker - all that pulling cable out and knitting onto needles gets a bit tiresome.

It was a beautiful afternoon, clear skies and not too cool or windy. Just look at that beautiful blue sky, and try not to look at the sand, rubble and mess that is the backyard.  And also ignore Little Man wasting water while making mud pies. 

Lets hope we have lots more autumn days like these! x