the laziest quilt ever

with tree I made a quilt this last week.  From beginning to end.  All the ends are stitched in.  It’s washed.  Dried in the sun.  Now lying on my bed, waiting for me to hop in and snuggle down.

whole quilt with branch shadows( btw – the strange black blobs you can see smooshed across the quilt are actually the shadows of our oak tree branches )

 It wasn’t very tricky :-)  Mum and I went out to Gail B’s last Tuesday to find the perfect fabric for a quilt she’s making for a lovely old family friend – Jill.  Jill requested the colours of the sea and sun – she lives at the beach.  We knew we’d find plenty to choose from at Gail’s so off we trotted.  And you know – how could you possibly go to a patchwork store with so many bolts of gorgeous fabric and not buy any?

Well I can’t.  I tried really hard.  Truly I did – I even had several bolts of Tilda’s new range in my arms and then put them all back  But whilst Mum was having Jill’s fabric cut (there were 18 bolts to cut from) and I continued to browse, I stumbled across this old Alexander Henry fabric called “Indochine”.  Oh!

towards the shed top left hand corner

I adored the colours, the patterns and the beautiful girls – they remind me of paper dolls and I want to make outfits to wear like theirs.  So I bought 1.6 metres and then figured it would be better to buy more – its ALWAYS better to buy more – so bought another 1.6 metres and Mum and I figured that she could also buy 1.6 metres and then we’d split my second 1.6 piece down the middle lengthways and then each add the half to our whole piece and voila!  We’d both have a lovely big square panel.

Mum, of course is going to be terribly clever and good and make her pieces match.  I am terribly bad and just whacked mine on.

sewing the threads

( that there’s a needle – nothing as easy as identifying loose threads that
haven’t been finished off and stitching them in whilst
the quilt is hanging in the brilliant sunshine on the clothesline
)

the borders

We didn’t buy any fabric to go with it at Gail B’s.  Thought we’d drop into our lovely friends at Darn Cheap for that.  And sure enough we found this fabulous swirly fabric – by Alexander Henry no less, but printed several years later – that was the perfect perfect perfect match.  And a gorgeous lipstick red for a wee frame.  I love Darn Cheap :-)

circles

In the narrow red stripe I practiced some linked circles – some turned out a wee bit wonky but hey! I’m getting better!  I might even try a recognisable shape sometime soon.

three little maids the tree again

( our tree is so luscious this spring – and thick and humming with bees – that I have to keep including it – swoon worthy it is – and if you KNOW what it is,
do let me know – I haven’t a clue. )

red shirt purple shirt

On the back – why a vintage blanket of course :-)  It’s a double bed size and I hardly had to cut a scrap off.  Well a little bit – but what I did will be perfect for the lovely Spring banner I hope to make tomorrow.

folded over the back all those squiggles

I do adore how the quilted stitches embed themselves in the wool.  So pretty and so very very very tacticle.  Love.

colour and texture

And here it is on the bed.  Perfect!

You know – here’s a dreadful confession for you – since Julian’s been away and I’m still waiting on grad offers (next Tuesday at 9am!) and distracted beyond belief – I’ve moved on from crossword puzzles and computer mahjong, and have been frittering away the hours reading … Regency Romance Novels.  I know.  I know.  It’s dreadful.  They are dreadful.

But wonderful too in that dreadful kind of way.  Truly!  They are almost like Jane Austen – same era, same kind of characters, same clothes, same balls, same phaetons … but of course the writing is very different and there’s all this stormy romance!

I read some aloud to Abby last night – she was rolling on the floor, clutching her stomach, gasping for air she was laughing so hard.  I know.  They are a bit like that.  But anyway – they are passing the time and I’m now in love with Colin who appeared to be a rake but was really deliciously honourable, and want to come back in my next life as Minerva the sharp tongued geologist who despite her blue stockinged ways was actually wonderfully witty and passionate.  Of course she was!

However, it has made me think that Julian needs to work on his Regency romance skills so tonight, when he told me he missed me, I demanded that he describe what he missed. Now any good Regency rake would be able to do this – they wouldn’t even need prompting – and I waited with bated breath for something similar to the knee weakening descriptions I’ve been reading the last few days – something lovely about my hair, or my eyes, or my voice. What did he tell me … he missed my new quilts.

What!  What! My new quilts!!!!! Geez Louise!  I’ll have to lend him “A Week to be Wicked” so he can get some tips from Colin on how to make a lady swoon.

I replied – I don’t know if that’s very romantic.  You tell me regularly that quilts aren’t really your thing!  He explained – Ah but I love your creativity.

Oh … well that’s a little bit better :-)  A bit like when Colin told Minerva how much he admired her dedication to dirt, digging and fantastical lizards.

on the bed

icelandic jumpers and a bedside table full of books

basket in sun

joining Ginny and her yarn-a-long!  I highly recommend checking out the other lovely people who link to this – you’ll see so much prettiness :-)

You know me – always longing for the sun and warmth.  And yet I do sooooooo love knitting and the wearing of all this knitty goodness.  The current knit that I am just desperate to finish is the Lopi sweater I am knitting for Abby.

It’s in a beautiful wool – an old old yarn – Cleckheaton’s Angora Supreme – that we found in the bargain basement at Wondoflex a few Saturday’s back.  Initially, I passed over the bundle of 8 balls for just pennies (can’t quite remember but it was less than $30 and there’s 140m on each ball so a wonderful buy) but then I figured it was lovely quality wool and a great price so I picked it up after all.

When Abby saw it, she was delighted!  Hawkeye purple she tells me – she being a dedicated Marvel fan.  And she thought it would be super with some white and lilac and dark lilac for a Lopi sweater.  And she was right.  She always is – has an eye for colour this one.

As per all the Lopi patterns I’ve tried, the body knitted up lickety-split.  They are such wonderfully simple patterns.  And oh how I love that simple, repetitive, meditative knitting.  Round and round and round and round.  Then the sleeves – up they went.  And then onto the yoke.

Now the yoke has certainly been time consuming – intensely patterned with sometimes three yarns in play at once.  But I do love stranded knitting  - my challenge is keeping it loose enough at the back.  Once all those strands are layered, it does make for an exceptionally warm jumper.  Like wearing a jumper WITH a shawl.  Perfect.

the arch bicycles bicycle seats

It did feel a bit funny the other day – sitting on the porch, my cardigan discarded, lapping up that sun like a cat – with a big hefty pile of Icelandic knitting on my lap :-)

knitting with ipad

When I looked down into my basket, I was also struck by the contrast between my vintage basket, my Lopi pattern (same as has been knitted in Scandinavia for generations), my vintage Cleckheaton wool … and the iPad.  I almost always knit from the iPad these days.  Whenever I pack my knitting basket, the iPad gets slipped in too.  Isn’t it brilliant!  I just love being able to browse Ravelry – I start by looking at everything and then wheedle it down, adding my search criteria one by one.  Then buy my pattern, download it and bam!  I’m off.  Can’t imagine knitting any other way. So totally different from when I first began knitting and we had to rely upon those cardboard folders of patterns – purchased from the shop, one or two at a time.  And rarely exactly what I had in mind anyway.  Now – the whole world sits there at my fingertips.  The truly wonderful upside of being connected to this new world.

coming along

As for reading … I’ve been re-reading “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.  This book is so densely packed with fascinating information that I am forever discovering something new and tweaking how I cook for my family yet a little bit more.  These days, I’m especially keen on cooking suppers that can be served in these dear little pots.  We found 12 at the opshop the other day.  They are Denby Gypsy – apparently very rare in Australia – haven’t been able to find any others on the old ebay.  So we’re eating lots of soups and stews – we even had our porridge in them the other morning and I must say, they keep the food very hot.

soup potOn the fiction front – I’m adoring Karen Joy Fowler’s “We are All Completely Beside Ourselves”.  Oh my goodness – the narrator is so utterly relatable.  I find myself nodding and laughing and wincing along with her.  And I’m also reading William McInnes’ “The Birdwatcher” – totally different, set here in Australia starting in Melbourne then moving up to North Queensland.  Both are landscapes so very familiar that it is a very poignant read – I love reading about environments I have lived in – such a connection.  And the characters are very appealing – it’s not literature, but it’s a lovely read and I really enjoy McInnes’ voice.  I have Inga Simpson’s “Nest” to pick up from the bookshop tomorrow – also set in North Queensland and I think I shall need Ian McEwan’s new novel “The Children Act” too.  Very pertinent but more about that next week!

Now – I’m off to bed on this cold cold night – The Birdwatcher awaits me.

 

if you should happen …

… to swing by Bootville, in the mid-afternoon, when school’s out early, the late winter sun is setting the back garden aglow, and the sweet scent of jasmine is wafting across the grass, don’t knock at the front door.  Come down the side, and through the gate – we’re in the garden!

take off the shoes

kick off your shoes … it’s okay, the dog hasn’t chewed a pair in years.  She’s so grown up now :-)

saved one for you

we’ve saved you a chocolate and raspberry sponge from Aviv’s!

picture book trying to count seeds

pull up a corner on the picnic blanket – we’re reading a lovely new picture book (yes, we still love and buy picture books!).  It’s all about what happens when you decide to throw caution to the wind and dare to do something a bit different.  With fabulous pictures.  And it’s Japanese.  And it’s by Mitsumasa Anno – what a gift to the world he is!

Fu chewing her stick

Fu will come bounding up every few moments to tell you all about a yummy stick she’s just found or an evil pigeon with dastardly plans she was brave enough to chase off.  To protect us, of course.  She’s not afraid of evil and dastardly pigeons.  It’s her job.

pencil case filling a new notebook

Abby’s writing a new story – currently planning out all the characters and locations – so she’ll probably ask you to contribute a name or an occupation – the crazier the better.

playset paper dolls and book

Perhaps you’d like to pull out whatever it is you love to do – bit of knitting, a good book, some stitching. If you’ve come empty handed you’re welcome to play with my new Pride and Prejudice paper dolls.  But I reserve the right to pop them all out.  You can put the stands on – they’re a bit tricksy.

proposals lizie darcy tableau

Aren’t they gorgeous!  And Fu didn’t steal a single one.  I told you she’s getting grown up at last.

writing novel reading

Then, whilst Abby gets down to the nitty-gritty of her tale, I might sneak a peak into my new novel.  You don’t mind do you.  I had to buy it.  As you can see, it’s called “We are all completely beside ourselves”.  This is one of my favourite phrases!  I use it ALL the time.  I am regularly completely beside myself – usually with delight, anticipation, or anxiety.  My response to Abby’s tales of school is usually “Goodness, the teacher must have been beside herself”.  When Mum tells me what the extended family are up to, I reckon they’re completely beside themselves as well.  Even my patients’ families are beside themselves – well of course they are.  As for the patients – they’re usually too sick to be beside themselves.

See – I had to have it.  And it’s by Karen Joy Fowler – I was completely beside myself with delight when I read her “Jane Austen Bookclub” especially when the only guy in the club suggested they read the Master and Commander books.  Practically leapt out of bed I was so beside myself at that point :-)  ”Yes, yes, yes!” I shrieked to Julian, “Of course the Master and Commander books are utterly perfect for the Jane Austen fan.  Karen Joy Fowler and I are kindred spirits!”

“Uh-uh,” he replied.  He very rarely gets beside himself, completely or not.

And when the sun tips just that bit far to the west, and the air becomes colder and damp, we’ll traipse back inside and have a nice cup of tea.  You can choose which Moomin cup you’d like.  If you really want to endear yourself, I’ll let you unpick the remaining 12 windows in my patchwork house that need their curtains hung, whilst I “hang” said curtains.  It will be a lovely afternoon, I promise.

You just have to remember, if it’s mid afternoon and the late winter sun is out and the jasmine’s flowering – we’ll be out the back.

slowly … slowly

There was a sleepless night – we call it “hover sleep” here in Bootville, that kind of sleep where you’re not really asleep, not quite awake, but oh so aware that dawn is creeping closer and closer.  Followed by another early morning, grad year interview – intense occasions after which I can always think of much better ways I could have answered their questions.

The rest of the day needed to move slowly, gently .. with a good dose of uplifting.  And, as is so often the case, such balm was found in the warmth of my kitchen, a little green machine that hums like an old Hornby train set, and a table scattered with fabric.

brewing marmalade marmalade recipe

:: late winter always means pyramids of lovely, juicy oranges – the perfect time for some marmalade brewing.  I’m following a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe which calls for a good overnight soaking.  Slowly, slowly …

marmalade cupcakes

:: not so slowly enjoying yesterday’s Nigel Slater’s marmalade loaf baked into cupcakes – with sultanas because everything tastes extra yummy with sultanas

cabbage mushing the cabbage

:: my first pickling efforts – using Andrea Chesman’s “Pickled Pantry” - my cabbage has been soaking for a few hours after mashing the salt in with my fingers – it’s almost time to add the next ingredients …

new pot

:: a new cast iron pot – bigger than the last!  perfect for slowing cooking a lovely joint – pork, beef, turkey – as long as it’s hot and flavoursome I don’t mind.  But first – this new pot needs a nice slow curing.

jasmine

:: this season’s first posy of jasmine – slowly, slowly spring is tiptoeing in

snape

:: savouring a thick and frothy hot cocoa after school – and still, after all these years, spending our afternoon tea debating Snape’s virtue.  He is hands down my favourite Harry Potter character – alas, Abby will never see it my way :-)

untidy kitchen table

:: things are moving slowly on the kitchen table – it’s looked like this since Friday – but the work has been nonstop!

little pieces

:: there’s only one way all these little seams come together and that’s slowly …

house

… but oh so pleasing.

finally – the stevenson sweater and a book about lighthouses

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn-a-long!  And a heart felt thankyou to all the lovely folk who visited here last week.  Thank you so much for your kind words – I look forward to catching up with more of your lovely knitting this week!

last of the kitchener stitch

I really think – hope – that 2014 is going to be the year I finish lots of knitting – as opposed to just starting :-)  Saturday morning saw me brave the techniques needed to finish off my Stevenson Sweater (raveled here) – a whole lot of sewing in of ends (not difficult, but ends that with hindsight and a little more experience, I did not need to create) and the grafting of the armholes with kitchener stitch.  Not only does Kate write lovely patterns, including lovely armholes, but her beautiful book “Colours of Shetland” provides excellent and simple to follow instructions for kitchener stitch.  Really, I don’t know what I was so afraid of.

Actually, I do.  I think a lot of my not-finishing-things in a timely manner can be put down to this silly thought – if I don’t finish them, then I don’t have to assess whether or not they are a success.   If the cardigan is never finished, then I never have to critically look at what I’ve made, identify where I can improve, and seek to improve my skills.  Unfinished items are just lovely to work on – they don’t have to be anything.  Do you know what I mean?  When it’s actually finished, then it has to stand on its own two feet.  Yes?  Do you ever experience this feeling?  Sometimes I can become completely bogged in it.  Has even been known to stop me from giving people presents I’ve handmade for them.

Well, mayhaps 2014 will not only be the year of finishing, but a year of growing.  An opportunity to look at what I finish, be grateful for the loveliness I have created, enjoy my projects for being an illustration of where I’m at skill wise, and look forward to using that skill again, only next time, with a little more finesse.  Or maybe, appreciate that not everything has to be perfect and that I can love my knits for being my knits and not fret over their shortcomings.  That would be even nicer :-)

yellow stockings the beach my lovely abby

on to the next sotp

her cute shoes

(my lovely photographer and her very natty new shoes she very sweetly agreed to come to the beach with me- icy wind and all – to indulge me in my photo wanting)

Anyways!  Back to the Stevenson Sweater.  When Kate first shared glimpses of the projects in her Colours of Shetland book, I fell instantly in love with this stranded knitting, short sleeved jumper.  I loved the colours, loved the stripes, loved that it was styled on lighthouses which I adore, and loved the story behind the Stevenson lighthouses!  I read the book Kate recommended – it was fascinating – if you have a thing for lighthouses, like me, I highly recommend it.  I devoured it in 2 nights and wished it could have gone on forever.

So, I put Kate’s book and the beautiful Shetland Island yarn required for this jumper (and the Puffin Jumper which is also waiting for a finish) on my list for Father Christmas that year.  And sure enough, there it was under the tree for me on Christmas morn.  Funny story – I was too busy on Christmas Day to pick up the needles but come Boxing Day, I couldn’t wait to cast on those golden stitches.  Mum and Abby went out early – shopping – Aunty Anne (who was staying with us) caught the train west to spend the day with old school friends, Julian was engrossed in a Christmas book and I – well, I was beside myself with anticipation.  I laid my yarn out on the round table in the living room.  I placed my needles beside it.  I made a cup of tea.  I went to fetch the book – and couldn’t find it.

I searched the house.  I tore the house apart.  I looked under every chair, table, bed and sideboard.  Piles of books and magazines were scattered, helter-skelter.  I even looked in all the tote bags and the car.  I pestered Julian.  I rang Abby and Mum – several times.  I looked for over 2 hours,  all the while growing more frantic (cranky).  How could I have lost the book in less than 24 hours!!!  It seemed manifestly unfair!  I had been waiting for this moment for almost 2 months.

Then, finally, I searched under the front passenger seat in the car.  And there it was.  I had given it to Mum to look at on Christmas Day as we drove to the airport to collect Aunty Anne – and she had put it under the front seat.  Don’t know why.  But she did.  Then we both forgot about it.  Sigh!

walking to the jetty
there was a fellow swimming

(This is me looking askance at a person swimming!
Port Philip Bay is freezing in summer let alone the last week in autumn)

the crazy folk the bag from the front close up of neck and shoulder

Most of the body was knitted on Mum’s front porch.  The perfect spot for a lighthouse sweater.  Sitting there drenched in sun, buffeted by the seabreeze, pretty parrots and kangaroos in attendance, the beautiful Pacific Ocean rolling and sparkling before me, little fishing boats darting across the Bar.  All the while, dreaming of lighthouses and when I would wear my Stevenson Sweater to our lighthouse – the Green Cape Lighthouse.  It’s not been there yet, but I’m sure it will be soon.

on the jetty watching the boat raglan sleeve

The Jamieson Jumper weight wool is truly gorgeous to work with.  I adore it.  It’s got a lovely lightness to it, a sweet fuzziness, and it just melds together so beautifully.  Their colour range is lovely too.  And it’s from Shetland sheep who’ve roamed Shetland Island, been sheared there, their wool spun there, dyed there, and then these beautiful little balls of yarn made their way all the way down here, from the top of the world to the bottom of the world.  Magic, yes?  I want to knit in Jamieson for the rest of my knitting days.

with the jetty behind photos for mym

Well now, I suppose there’s nothing stopping me from finishing the Puffin Sweater (wait til you hear what happened to part of that pattern – oy!).  Well except, that I’m knitting a stripey jumper for Mum.  And still have Julian’s Argyle to finish.

But right now, I’m about to hop into bed with my copy of “The Lighthouse Stevensons” and another old favourite – Amy Tan’s “The Kitchen God’s Wife” – I heard her on the radio the other day and she was so marvellous I want to read all her books over again.

my hippie cardigan and the books I’m longing to read

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn-a-long.

That’s the name of the pattern – the hippie cardigan – such a sweet creation from the lovely and talented Meiju from Finland.  I so recommend you check her out here and here – her knitting and designs are beautiful.

in the garden

I so enjoyed knitting this cardigan.  I love the pattern – easy to follow, gorgeous construction.  I love the wool I chose – Cleckheaton Naturals for the stripes and a lovely discontinued Cleckheaton merino and silk blend for the rest of body and arms.  The cardigan in the pattern is intended as a summer cardigan and so is in beautiful summery colours – I wanted rich warm colours for winter so went for a much darker palette.   I would knit the hippie cardigan again without hesitation.

side on

And that’s exactly what I may have to do …

squinty

When I began knitting this cardie – way back in January? – I was 12 kilos heavier than I am now.  So what was a fitted bodice is now a baggy bodice – and a couple of stripes too long – and the raglans don’t provide that lovely – wanted – crisp definition for my shoulders.  Bugger.

kind of hairy

There’s just so much fabric around my upper body and armholes.  Such looseness in the upper sleeves.  And yet I think, as a cardigan, it is really pretty.  I love the garter stitch bands.  I love the crocheted edging.  I love the one piece construction.  I love raglan shaping.  I love how the “skirt” flares out slightly.  I adore the leather buttons Julian made me.  I love how I’ve shrunk.  I just don’t like how the cardigan didn’t shrink along with me ;-)

the bottom

It’s just a wee bit too big.  And given I’m still hoping to lose another 6 kilos – it will only get bigger.  It would be awesome if I COULD shrink it.  But that is such a finger shredding, imperfect science.  Knowing my luck, the cardigan would end up fitting Fu.

from the back

I know I shall want to wear it.  I put so many hours of knitty pleasure into this – and I even finished it –  of course I want to wear it!  And it will be lovely and cosy.  It’s just too baggy.

Hmmmm …. maybe I will just need to knit another, smaller hippie cardigan and I can have one for around the home when cosy comfort is the name of the game.  And one for when I want a little more pizzazz.  Oh dear, that will mean more wool.  And more knitting.  Such a shame.

As for my reading …. well, it’s the Sydney Writer’s Festival this week and every day I’ve heard fabulous authors being interviewed about their books on Radio National.  My favourites include Andrew Solomon and his book “Far From the Tree”  and Karima Bennoune and her book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here”.

I’ve heard/seen Andrew twice now and am so very impressed with the love and compassion he radiates for fellow human beings.  The stories he related on Margaret Throsby’s program on Monday were incredibly moving and brought me to tears on several occasions.  As a mama whose daughter is not as close to the tree as I thought she’d be, and as an almost nurse who will be caring and relating to “different” people everyday, I know that there will be a lot of helpful wisdom in this book.  And even the pain, sadness and sometimes complete shunning Andrew relates from families who simply do not cope with their different child will give me so much to think about and allow me to walk just a wee bit in the shoes of others – such an invaluable practice.  Sometimes, I think it’s easy to expect that the people we love and those we meet will, of course, do the things we expect them to do.  When they don’t, I think it’s part of being human to find this a bit surprising or even shocking.  And yet, there are so very many ways of being, that to expect any such compliance is to set yourself up for disappointment.  Don’t you think?

As for “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” – such a fascinating topic and if it’s as good as her interview on the Religion Report tonight – and as the Booklist review says – wow!  I can’t wait.  The kind of book that presents such a different and often unknown and unnoticed world to me – I LOVE that.  I felt like that about “The Sewing Circles of Herat” and “Sharon and My Mother-in-law”  – glimpses from fascinating and thoughtful people in such far away places, usually only seen in the news headlines – they so eloquently share their lived experience that it can completely transform my understanding of a place or situation.

However, I do not yet have either of these books – they feel like the books I will want to hold in my hand, flip back and forth between different stories and pages, underline with my pencil, look at on my bookshelf, take down over and over again, and waggle in front of  my family and friends.  I know you can theoretically do the same things with a kindle – but really, it’s not quite the same is it.  So I’ve ordered beautiful, real, heavy, papery copies of them and am now checking the letterbox with anticipation every day.

Until then – I might just pick up Sharon and My Mother-in-law again.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read this – just the right amount of passed time to find fresh delight in her stories again.

the night max wore his wolf suit …

big hairy feet sneaky eyes

Whatever is hiding amongst the oleander?  Oh! It’s a Wild Thing!

wild thing

Julian’s Wild Thing!  I gave it to him for his 22nd birthday – the first birthday we celebrated together. He had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are when I met him – sitting there amongst the computer programming tomes and science fiction novels.  It was his favouritest book as a little boy.  I knew it from my childhood as well – but I must confess, I had been scared of it.  So when I spied this fabulously fierce little fellow at the University Bookstore, I just knew upon whose bookshelf it would feel right at home.

closeup of wild thing

A few years later, one of my wee cousins, Alastair, came for a sleepover.  He stomped up the stairs to our flat, pleased as punch to be so grown up as to have a sleepover all by himself, and whilst his mum and I had a cup of tea, he had a little explore.  After peering into our bedroom, he ran straight back over to his mum and whispered tremulously in her ear “Mum!  There’s a Wild Thing in there!”  It was so sweet/funny – and formal introductions had to be made before Alastair could be convinced it was indeed safe to stay.

cards scattered wild thing cheating

Wild Things have been a firm favourite in Bootville ever since.  Julian’s copy of the book became very battered as it was read over and over and over to Abby – by the time she was 3, both she and I could recite the whole book off by heart!  We made a copy of the audio book, borrowed from the library, and that was played on Abby’s little tape recorder until it literally wore out.  And there’s been many games of Wild Rumpus enjoyed at the kitchen table – always accompanied by lots of shrieks and the frantic slapping down of cards.

with abby reading

When the film version came out a few years back, just before we left for Melbourne, Abby took along 5 of her lovely friends from primary school to see it for her birthday.  Oh how we all loved it.  I do think Spike Jonze did a brilliant job – no, it wasn’t an immaculate translation of the book, frame by frame, but as an interpretation it was outstanding.  Exquisitely and imaginatively filmed with such a real and touching story.  As for the soundtrack – oh I went out and bought a copy the very next day.  We used to drive around Brisbane with all the windows down, the breeze rushing in at our faces, singing along to the second track at the top of our lungs.  Even now, I only need to slip it on and that beautifully haunting, childlike music transports me.

favourite on the chair

Needless to say, when I visited Spotlight a few days before Julian’s birthday this year, and there were bolts of Wild Things fabric lined up at the counter … well, all previous birthday present plans went out the window and I made him a Wild Things quilt instead.

binding red and orange arm

I bought the red, yellow, lilac, purple and black contrasting plains at the same time, went home, sliced them up into squares with thin black strips for borders, then spent a whole afternoon puzzling over just how it was supposed to go together.  I finally settled upon this layout a) because I felt it was the most striking whilst allowing Maurice Sendak’s beautiful illustrations to shine, and b) ’cause it reminded me of strips of film – a film of the Wild Thing playing through our lives in all its incarnations.  Then I had to take Abby back to the shop with me to choose the perfect green for the border – an adventure set deep in the forest.  I have a tendency to choose very olivey greens – none of which looked right – thankfully, she knew just the appley green it needed.

I pieced it frantically over the weekend before his birthday and had it a-l-m-o-s-t quilted in time for the birthday breakfast.  Backed with a beautiful vintage blanket and quilted with my scribbly-wibbly lines.  And the binding – Julian’s idea – he wanted something with all the colours in it.

blanket looking down

The birthday boy loved it!  For the first few weeks, it graced our bed.  There is something very endearing about coming to bed late, after knitting into the wee hours, or working on an essay, to find my husband, snuggled up under his Wild Things quilt.  Especially since Julian doesn’t have any mementos from his childhood.

on the fence post touseldBut now that the cooler weather is here, he’s brought it out into the living room where he sits with it warmly tucked around his lap each eve (we’re having our second winter without heating – saved a fortune last year!).  

I adore that our quilts are shared and loved and dragged around the house, out into the car, on picnics, taken on school camps, piled up on sleepovers, squished up into balls, spread out onto the grass, cuddled into by doggles, and quietly retreated under when an afternoon nap is needed.

As for a Wild Things quilt – well it’s sure to stand the test of time.

argyling and the marvellous Joan Aiken

that can be a verb, yes?  Sounds like a strange form of mining.  I’m wracking my brain to see if there’s any analogy between knitting argyle and mining …. no, I’m coming up blank.

suitcase

Nevertheless, that’s what’s going on here in Bootville.  Because there are only 5 days left to argyle before the birthday arrives on which I said I would have the argyle ready for wearing.  Gasp!

peek inside

Silliness aside – and disregarding the insane number of little balls of wool that perform square dancing on every row – knitting argyle – my first attempt – is very pleasant.  The yarn is Jamieson and Smith’s 2 ply jumper weight which is so very lovely to knit with.  It’s so very woolly!  You only have to lay two strands next to each other and they snuggle up.  And the soft halo that floats above the surface of the knitted fabric is so beautiful.  Yum!  When I knit with this yarn, I don’t ever want to knit with anything else.

holding it open

And I’m knitting on 3.25mm needles which is also strangely addictive.  When I was a young, flighty knitter I was very much of the notion that the bigger the needle, the fatter the yarn, the better.  Now I say, nonsense to that!  There’s something very very good about knitting up a fabric that is fine and light, yet so warm and durable.

hard to fathom

Oh, the pattern.  It’s Keith’s Vest by Veronik Avery.  I like her stuff – very classy.  The back, of course, was easy-peasy-easy-peasy – back and forth, back and forth, straight up.  The front – well, trying to read “the pattern” took a few quiet looks, a few frogged rows, finally an a-ha moment and then the decision, once I knew I was in the right spot, to not confuse myself any further by looking at “the pattern” and just keep an eye on the photo. And follow the lines.  It’s a bit common sense really.  It’s working – currently.  I’ll have to pay attention when the armholes start decreasing but that’s okay.  They’re only armholes and I don’t think the argyle really touches them much.  Nope, just checked, there’s no argyling going on near armholing.  I am looking forward to the bands.  Oh yes!

bunched up

And it has to be knitted on the bed – with all the little balls rolling around in front of me.  And that’s okay too because I am so tired this week – that time of the month, and early morning classes – that sneaking in a couple of hours each day,  to sit on the bed, pillows scrunched behind my back, the fan blowing on my face, a cold drink by my side, is really nice.

coming my way

Actually, that’s why I’m knitting right now, and not reading (rereading a favourite children’s series, because really, don’t you think, the really good children’s books are better than any grown ups’ book I’ve ever read).  Because I know if I read, I will fall asleep and then I will not wake up in time to fetch the little girl from school for an afternoon of homework.  So I shall knit.

stolen lake

Besides, there’s only five days to go before we reach the birthday.  And I promised.

growing

Pop over to Ginny’s to check out her yarn along friends – there are some beautiful places to visit and lots of pretty yarn :-)

 

weekend drive :: crowdy bay & a wee lighthouse

A weekend with a little driving adventure is the best weekend of all – well, I think so :-)  But often, during these busy months of school and work and study and placement, it’s all we can do to keep everything running smoothly at home, let alone pack a yummy picnic and set off for a whole day.  Fortunately, the summer holidays provided plenty of opportunities for little – and big – driving adventures, so I’ve plenty to look back on over the next few months.  I thought I’d share some of them here –  this weekend, I bring you the little known, quiet hamlet of Crowdy Head.

Most of the beautiful bay, of which Crowdy Head is but the southern tip, is a National Park so the only access to the long beach is from this spot, or the northern tip – Diamond Head.  Originally, Captain Cook named this point “Indian Head”.  The Australian writer, poet, and social justice campaigner Kylie Tennant, suggested he may have named it so after catching sight of, through his spyglass, a group of the local Aborogines – the Birripi people (I think this is their name, but if I’m wrong, I do apologise and please let me know!).  Later it was renamed Diamond Head because of its abundance of sparkling quartz in the cliff faces.

kylie tennant's cottage(picture retrieved from:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/a-writers-hut-among-the-old-gum-trees)

Kylie Tennant, whilst living in nearby Laurieton, with her husband (the local schoolmaster) and children, was so delighted with this beautiful spot, she built a wee shack for writing, watching the animals, escaping from it all … not much is known about her time here.  But her book “The Man on the Headland” provides an enchanting description of this place and its local “hermit” Ernie Metcalfe.

Despite my many, many trips to the southern tip as a child, we never ventured north, so the delights of Kylie’s Beach, the Diamond Head Walk, the Mermaid Walk, and the many picturesque cliffs, coves and inlets of this part of the park are unknown to me.  I intend to remedy this at the next opportunity!

But Crowdy Head – it is part of my childhood dreams and memories.  The hot and sticky drive, always accompanied by the incessant and fierce drone of cicadas, from Nanny and Poppy’s to the beach – that always seemed suuuuuuch a long way (only 7km actually!).  The beautiful little waves that were always perfect for my sister and I with our boogie boards  The wee fishing harbour where Poppy’s friends kept their trawlers.  The co-op where we’d buy freshly caught prawns for lunch.  The squat white lighthouse, that I imagined holidaying in and keeping an eye out for smugglers, just like Famous Five.

close into shore all the way to the edge the paddler the pebbles little lighthouse from the fence towards harrington swirly down below looking up looking back to the bay keepers cottage

(the site of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage – the Crowdy Head lighthouse was demanned in 1928, very early, so unlike most of its lighthouse cousins, there is no keeper’s cottage for holiday makers to stay – such a shame – the views are magnificent!)

pretty edges

When we last visited here (four years ago) it was looking very neglected and dingy – I stood here with Julian, dismayed and almost disbelieving, declaring that the REAL lighthouse must have been pulled down, such a sorry sight stood before me.  But this visit, the little lighthouse is looking splendid!  Thank goodness the Taree Shire Council saw fit to restore her to her former glory.  I especially loved this little insignia – painted by someone with a steady and quirky hand.

VR 1879

It’s charming naivete reminded me of a wonderful picture book Abby and I enjoyed when she was little.

loud emily waving her parents off title page

Don’t you think!  Oh I do have such a romantic and sentimental spot in my heart for the ocean and all the good bits that go along with it.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend adventure to Crowdy Bay!  I did.

 

clara and nellie

crocheted edgings

Perhaps you noticed the “”110 Crocheted Edgings” book on my tray the other day?  It belonged to my other Nanny (that is, not the one who is married to dear old Grandad, but my father’s mother). Mum passed it on to me a few years back now.  It was in this bundle of goodies …

the bundle

 

… that appeared during the great wool tidy up.  Oh yes!  The number of treasures that were unearthed during those days of wool untangling and winding made the tedium of it all well worth while!

This is only a small bundle of books, pamphlets and loose notes – collected and written by both my Nanny – Clara, and her mum –  Nellie. Nanny adored her mother and I remember her home being stuffed to the brim with all sorts of books, linen, clothes, fabric, furniture (including the piano her mother taught on), and bric-a-brac that had been her mum’s.  Her mum died when Nanny was only a young mother herself – I have a letter that Nanny wrote her Mum just after the birth of my dad and just before Nanny Nellie died – I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat just thinking about it – it was so touching and vulnerable.  She must have missed her mum terrible.  Very soon after her dad remarried a woman with two daughters who, whilst happy to move into the family home, did not want most of Nellie’s belongings – so Nanny promptly removed them, carefully stored them, and spent the next 40 years carting them about.  I clearly inherited her genes – I’m dreadfully sentimental and cannot bear to throw anything out – as our jam-packed garage, shed, sewing shed, and Julian will testify.

stitch guide edgings

The crocheted edgings book is particularly lovely.  Even Julian thinks that page above with its illustrated stitches is quite a prize.  And I’m finding the little book especially useful for my crocheted face flannels.  I stumbled upon these via the talented Kristin at her lovely blog Cozy Made Things and just knew, as soon as I saw them, that they were my cup of tea.

in front of me

So, whilst in Brisbane, I slipped off one afternoon to visit my old favourite fabric shopping haunt – The Quilters’ and Embroiderers’ Store with Karen and Leah – and bought several fat quarters.  That was a mistake.  Clearly a fat quarter is much too big to be a useful face flannel.  But a quarter of a fat quarter is a little miserly.  So I ended up cutting a square – 13 x 13 inches – from each of the fat quarters which left quite a bit of waste.  Ugh.  If I’d just bought 35 cm I’d have had two face flannels for a little more than the price of one fat quarter – and still a bit of leftover that could go in the scrap bag for a future scrappy flannel quilt.  And that would have worked very nicely because Mum, Auntie Anne and Nanny have all claimed the first round of face flannels I’ve made!  I may need to indulge in a little mail ordering – ohh look at that, they have 616 to choose from – and I won’t be making the same mistake next time.

start with blanket stitch number 26 done corner

Now I’m not sure whether Kristen doubled hers.  I didn’t – Mum wondered whether I should, but it would have made it very bulky and they would take ages to dry.  So,  I simply overlocked the edges, then ironed 1 inch hems on each side with mitred corners.  Then, using my 4 ply Paton’s cotton crochet yarn, I blanket stitched around the edge.  This makes for a super easy first round of crochet.  For this flannel, I used edging number 26!

I will add here – Nanny Clara would be alarmed at the use of such thick cotton.  She used crochet hooks that were so fine, I cannot even SEE the hook.  As for her crochet thread – it’s almost the weight of regular sewing thread!  Extraordinary.  Also – her local haberdashery had a very fine service to offer their crochet customers – a machine that you ran your fabric through and it evenly perforated a quarter inch in from the edge – which allowed for very elegant work indeed.  When I was in Taree recently – their home town – Mum and I did look for this shop – but it had gone.  Funny that.

Just writing “edging number 26″ makes me think of a rather crazy but awfully fun idea.  Another book I inherited from Nanny Clara included delicate pieces of lawn that she had practiced different sewing techniques on – different seams, hems, collars, inserts etc.  One of the pieces had several horizontal folds in it which she had finished in a variety of ways.  Can you imagine a lovely big piece of cotton/linen (don’t want plain linen, it’s too stretchy) that I iron neat horizontal folds into – and stitch them, like big pinch pleats.  The I could “divide” the piece of fabric into five even columns, and crochet each of the 110 edgings, so that it becomes a sampler!  Then I could back it, bind the edges and hang it on the wall.  Oh my goodness!  I’m so excited at the thought, I’m twitching.  It would be so beautiful.  I would do them in a selection of soft, gentle, antiquey colours.  Nothing bright.  It would have “old world charm” :-) Oh my goodness!  I’ll have to run up the road to Darn Cheap again tomorrow!  ’Cause you know, I was thinking, that’s a lot of face flannels to use all 110 edgings.

Mind you, I am planning to crochet around the edge of my latest quilt.  In red.  I think it will look fetching – we’ll have to see ;-)

Now the rest of the post is taken up with photos of my favourite pages from the bundle … there are so many wonderful projects in here that I will be occupied for the rest of my life.  Take a peek …

weldon's practical crochet

:: this is treasure of a book – so much goodness inside

ardeen's cotton advertisements

:: the advertisements are just brilliant.  And I love the advice “to just write to us” should you need anything.  Can’t you imagine ladies sitting down at their writing desks after breakfast and elegantly penning a quick note to the wool store in time for the morning mail.  Goodness, the wool would probably be delivered the very next day.

useful doyleys

:: I love that these are “useful” (others were handsome – not that Julian thought so) and that they’re spelt D’Oyleys.  Intriguing – I shall have to look that up.

two pretty shawls

:: I love this picture – their hair, the chairs, the properness of it all.

little girl

:: oh my goodness – this little girl – isn’t she a darling and so cosy!  She most likely couldn’t hear anything either.

wendy the waaaf

:: I don’t know about you, but I definitely want a Wendy the WAAAF!!!  Truly, I shall make her – and she shall sit on my dresser.

butterflies

:: I’ve not heard of stiletto work, let alone tried it – have you?

the coronation

:: a memento from the coronation of our current Elizabeth.  Shows all the places the processioned passed.  So sweet.

beauty tips

:: I was a bit puzzled by a whole bundle of “beauty tips” – both Nanny Clara and Nanny Nellie were so against this kind of frippery – they were good Presbyterian women who did not have time for fancies – they would have thought it positively outrageous that a good moral woman had TIME to fret about wrinkles.

the other side

:: then I realised that on the back of each carefully saved beauty page, was a crochet pattern.  Aha.

black book

:: Nanny Nellie’s cook book – her writing is so curly and ornate I can barely read some of it …

jam drops and bible cake

… but Jam Drops and Bible Cake sound good.

recipes

:: Nanny Clara’s recipes.  I love that people wrote down recipes and saved them.  Yet another thing we’ve lost – what with our plethora of lavishly produced cookbooks and internet recipe sites.  I keep meaning to start keeping hand written copies of our favourite recipes – but never seem to find them time.

So there you go – a wee glimpse of a face flannel – I’d better take some photos of the rest before they’re all parcelled up and sent away.  And a little wander through the past.

You see, I HAVE to carefully keep all of my things so that women, three or four generations from now, will sort through my boxes of funny old things with a laugh of delight and awe. :-)

 

the wool from a parched and golden land

 

joining Ginny’s Yarnalong over at smallthings!

gunning wool looking into it

This soft, ropey wool was sheared off a sheep from Gunning, NSW who was just this colour.  Her owners sent the wool down to Bendigo – 600km away and in a different state – to be washed, carded and spun.  Then it back it came to Gunning – a tiny little town on the Old Hume Highway in the Southern tablelands – where just 487 people live.  I bought it – in one huge hank – from a small craft store that has opened in what was once Gunning’s Courthouse.

Like many of the small towns nestled amongst these hot, crackly-dry hills, Gunning was one of many thriving communities that provided services to the prosperous Merino wool farmers.  But it’s been a long time since Australia “rode on the sheeps’ back”, so profitable for the country was Australia’s wool production.  Since then there’s been too many heartbreaking droughts – locals I spoke to in these parts assured me that they’d just COME OUT of drought – much to their relief.  Goodness, I’d hate to have seen it any drier – what was left of the grass crunched under my feet.  In the second half of the 20th century the wool price fell through the floor and has never recovered, from a high of $37 per kilo in the early 1950s, to $3.20 per kilo in 2002. And in the 1990s the vast majority of Australia’s wool processing centres went from being the lifeblood of their towns’ economic and social wellbeing to empty ruins, often perched by dry riverbeds and disused, crumbling railway lines.  It’s a sad, sad tale.

gundagai

:: a view to the dry hills from the highest spot in Gundagai – even in its parched state, it has such beauty

old railway line

:: the old Gundagai Railtrack – would have transported untold kilos of wool from here to nearby processing centres

derelict wool shed

:: the Gundagai WoolShed, on a beautiful bend of Morley’s Creek, tucked under the railway line – empty and derelict

slab and tin

:: tin and slab settler’s cottage, Gunning

post office

:: for Grandad – the Gunning Post Office

golden hill empty fields post ruined church

:: the ruins of St. Mary’s, destroyed by fire in the 1980s

goulburn sheep

taree sheep

:: many of the grand old buildings in Australia’s country towns are decorated with sheep – a tribute to their significance in days past – the colourful tiled art deco sheep is from Goulburn, the sandstone sheep above is from Taree

However, one small farm in Gunning, is holding on – thriving I hope! – and offering their wool for sale at local markets – colours straight from the sheep’s backs.  (You won’t believe this, but I have LOST the card that came with my wool – I shall ring somewhere in Gunning tomorrow, find out the details and post them here!).  They have 5 ply, 8 ply, 10 ply and 12 ply, in colours from very cool creams through to dark ashy browns.  They also sell roving for felting, and beautiful hand knit jumpers from those sized for babes all the way to adults.  It was all so lovely it took me ages to choose.  Eventually I chose this dusty, earthy tone because it looks so like the landscape from which it came.  The bumpy little sheep who wear this colour are so utterly camouflaged in the fields, you can barely make them out!  Mum and I drove by many a field where we weren’t sure whether they were sheep or rocks until they moved!

cowl little bumpy stitches packed in bag

As is the magic of Ravelry, I entered my wool’s dimensions and came up with a lovely cowl pattern that would use most of my wool – Louise Zass-Bangham’s Ice Storm Cowl. That seems to be a terribly inappropriate title for a knit made from wool that came from a land so dry, don’t you think?  But the sharp, bumpy chevrons of Louise’s design, reminded me of the hills of sharply jagged grass that the sheep of the Southern Tablelands are hidden amongst.   It’s knitting up beautifully – and it is easy to fall into the rhythm of the pattern – I was even able to manage it whilst following the subtitles of a German film!

Book wise – with the start of the new school year, there’s been much reading here in Bootville.  Abby is studying literature for her final two years of highschool – I’m so thrilled and she has such a lovely booklist – many of which I have both studied and taught – and is also encouraged to explore complementary titles.  Her first unit for this semester is dominated by the World War I poet Wilfrid Owen – so I’ve suggested All is Quiet on the Western Front – similar themes to Owen but from a German perspective.  She’s reading a few chapters every night – we have a dedicated 1/2 hour to reading together each evening – and is finding it a lot more interesting than she originally thought.

all quiet on the western front

After Wilfred Owen, her class will be studying Great Gatsby so for reading aloud, we’re sharing some of Fitzgerald’s short stories – my favourite is Berenice Bobs Her Hair – oh such a good ending!  I was struck afresh the other night at how pertinent his writing is regarding the bizarre social rituals we both twist ourselves into and frantically try to extricate ourselves from – more so when we are young – no matter the decade.  This sentence especially struck me … “At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide.”  Being much closer to 45 than 18, this made me chuckle, so vivid was my memory of being a righteous 18 year old standing on that hill wondering why my parents were so blind.

berenice bobs her hair

And, whilst Abby sits engrossed in the horror of an unjust war, I’ve been reading a dear little book I picked up at the annual Bega Book Fair –  Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore.  She lived with her family in Shanghai, before World War I, where her father taught English at a Chinese University.  They are such sweet stories (with simple but lovely illustrations), and remind me of Shirley Hughes’s stories of Alfie (which are hands down my favourite children’s picture books) – a very real and natural little boy with an enthusiasm and curiosity for everything that is going on around him, coupled with a desire to be a valuable and trusted part of the family he loves – with a cultural twist that is respectful and enchanting. You can tell Ms. Lattimore writes with such fondness.  I’m so glad I found it.

little pear

oh the woolliness

I’m home!  I’m back!  Goodness, I have been away a long time.  And there’s so much to share here.  I don’t know … this summer has just escaped from me.  We’ve had many lovely times … and many dreadfully hot days when it is all I can do NOT to indulge in a nice little tantrum over how much I dislike days that are over 40 celsius.  There was also an unexpected journey to Brisbane with my Mum to help care for my dear old Grandad who suffered a heart attack.  He is doing well and Mum is staying for a month to keep him and Nanny on the straight and narrow.

But now … school goes back tomorrow (I don’t know how this could possibly be so, but new uniforms hanging on the line tell me it is), baby sitting will start up again next week, and there’s just a month left before my final semester of nursing gets rolling.  Eeek!

However, there is going to be such busyness and creativity round these parts.  Oh yes!  I intended making the most of every moment.  So without further ado, I have for you this eve, a wee tale of woolliness …

started here

It started here.  Yesterday morning – another day of dreadful heat – I wanted to work on Julian’s Argyle Vest.  But it really needed to shift out of the little embroidery box and into something that held it properly – those little balls of colour, oh they do like to roll away.  So I decided to sort through the baskets behind Julian’s armchair (yes, that’s where I try to hide my woolly messiness) and clear one entirely so that it could become the current project, a.k.a The Argyle.

when there was hardly any

Well.  Those baskets were stuffed full of all sorts of little-bit-started, half-way-done, oh-my-goodness-what-was-I-thinking projects.  So I emptied them all out with a view to frogging and winding the wool and putting it in the huge cane laundry hamper in which I keep my stash.  Except it wouldn’t fit.  So I emptied it out too.  Except that not much really came out, because most of it looked like this …

a tangle

Ahem.  Yes.  Well.  So then I got out the two back up storage baskets and tipped them out too.  Sadly, they were in a similar state of tangledness.  However!  There wasn’t a single moth to be found and all the wool was beautifully intact.  That’s good, right?!  So here we are, on the eve of the second day and I’ve been untangling and winding and untangling and winding … and untangling and winding.  All on the kitchen table.  And floor.  And chairs.  Any other action that has gone on in the kitchen has had to do so, squished in amongst the wool.

wound it grew

Which in itself was making me a wee bit fretful.  There’s a lot of wool.  A lot.  It’s the woolly equivalent of  that moment a couple of years back when I realised I could supply new tents for every circus currently performing in Australia made from the patchwork fabric I’d acquired.

lots variegateds tweeds

There’s lots of little balls of Patons, Cleckheaton and Heritage DK (remnants of many crochet projects), a lovely pile of Debbie Bliss Tweeds, balls and balls of Brown Sheep’s lovely Cotton Fleece, left over bundles of Malabrigo, Rowan, Beaverslide and Twilley’s, hopeful hanks of Cascade 220, a bagful of someone else’s handspun that I bought at a craft fair donkey years ago, masses of Lanaloft that was going to become a jumper for Julian but he no longer likes it, several skeins of honey coloured mohair that I’d started knitting lace edging with (?????) …  So much wool.

swifting yellow mohair

But then, just when I was feeling a bit sick about the dollar value of all this wool (and yes, it is a lot), as I was remembering projects that different yarns had been bought for, I realised that what lay before me was the wool I have been squirrelling away for 25 years.  That’s a fair chunk of time.  And even more cheering was the realisation that whilst lots had been used, and used well and with love, there were many many projects that will grow out of this stash … even if most of them will be of the stripey persuasion (apart from that Lanaloft there’s not enough of anything that by itself would make more than a small shawl, and there’s a limit to how many shawls I need).

rosy red mermaid yarn

But oh the potential!  There will surely be many more crochety things.  More dolls.  Arm warmers?  Perhaps I could buy some lovely tweedy grey and make up all those Debbie Bliss balls into a stripey short sleeved jumper like my Stevenson Jumper.  I long to marry that buttery honey off to the mermaid blue homespun but will have to swatch it first to see if they are a perfect match.  There are three whole skeins of Misti Alpaca in Doctor Who Blue and I’m not sure someone still wants that Tardis shawl, in which case, I could knit up one of those ever so whispy thin cardies – like Hannah Fettig’s.  There’s almost a whole jumper’s worth of a marly blue that Nanny passed along to me.  And enough of that Cotton Fleece for … something.  Then there’s always baby knits – I’m thinking I might start a baby knits drawer – for presents and such.  That would be fun.  Quick to knit, and good for using up small bundles.  As for that Lanaloft, someone will wear it :-) 

brownsHowever, right at this moment, instead of finishing the untangling and tidying away all that wool (and I do have plans – they involve many of the sweet pillowcases I made Abby when she was little, with cardboard tags and shelves put in the gentleman’s wardrobe that is currently woefully underutilised in the living room) … I have my eye on this lovely tweedy brown (a Jo Sharp DK that had been started THREE different times – none of which I’d frogged and none of which I remembered what I was doing), Nanny’s marly blue, and an orange (remember that DREADFUL razor lace cardigan that I had to frog after completely finishing it!!!!).  I think …. no, I KNOW they want to become the North Shore yoked, fairisle sweater from Tin Can Knits.  Who I think may well be my new favouritist knitting designers – oh my goodness, they create such beauty.

Do you think Abby and Julian would notice if I slipped away into the bedroom and quickly cast on?  I could always pretend I’m reading …

books

… which I am!  Whilst on holidays, we visited the annual Bega Book Fair and I snapped up several more Patrick O’Brian’s books from the Master and Commander series.  Honestly, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but you know that scene in the book/film The Jane Austen Book Club when the gorgeous young man tells the rest of the group that they really should try O’Brian because if you love Austen, you will love O’Brian – IT’S TRUE!!!!!  My goodness, Mr. O’Brian weaves a magnificent tale, full of historical detail, fabulous characters – I mean Jack and Stephen – so totally different to each other but both so charismatic – Jack, the enchanting, passionate, over grown schoolboy with buckets of integrity and good humour; and Stephen, the wily, clever, compassionate doctor/spy, as for Killick – makes me laugh every time.  And Tom Pullings – oh, be still my racing heart!  Plenty of nail biting action (of the fighting and wild weather variety), intricate descriptions of the social conditions, and the sailing and construction of ships.  With fascinating intrigue and adventures.  This one – The Wine Dark Sea – is not disappointing.  Jack, Stephen and the crew are crossing the Pacific to South America – but have been mightily waylaid by an undersea volcano (which O’Brian described so well – he didn’t mention it was a volcano so I the reader was just as bamboozled as Jack) followed by an interminable lull – no wind, no rain – day after day of still and balmy weather – the suspense is building!

So there you go … huge return hello and joining in with the lovely Ginny over at Small Things and her Yarn Along.  Lots of woolliness and a good book too.

Hope you are all doing well, dear folk.  That this New Year is taking care of you and yours – despite frigid cold or melting heat.  May we have a year of much love, a goodly supply of happiness, challenges that reward us, and plenty of time for our stitchy delights.

See you tomorrow!