Mental Health Day

A few little nice things happen all the time – the trick is to spot and cherish those! We had an insanely busy weekend… there was no way I was able to fully function in my professional capacity today. I took a mental health day today (re-stocking the fridge, tidy up, visit to the hardware store, masses of laundry processing,…, some knitting…) and reflected on how good things are going right now.

I finally finished my Knitters Guild NSW Achievement Certificate – ages ago, actually. And then I left the stuff at guild and have not been back. Sue gave it to me after sailing yesterday (or was it a fortnight ago?). Anyway, I fell over the bag in the hall today so I thought I might as well show it off before I tidy up! Voila. Some swatches and the sample garment. I started in 2011 and did the entire certificate in a week – bar one last bit of the sleeve. I dug it out 3 months ago and boom – done. I hope the jumper will fit Rowan!    DSCN8278DSCN8279DSCN8277DSCN8275DSCN8276

I started conjuring up a nice new project. In fact I used a good 6m of soft fabric to make one toile after the next on the weekend and now all of them are in the bin and I have settled for something very simple and sleek. Sneaky preview:DSCN8280

And while I was knitting away the (broken) doorbell “rang” (our dogs barking) and there was an angel (Sue) delivering home made strawberry jam, lemon butter and stock! What have I done to deserve this??? Many thanks, Sue, it’s just so sweet of you! DSCN8281

And here are some yarns that Chris picked for the hat he’d like me to knit. I have made so many samples for Fair isle patterns from this yarn – no more now! There will be no yarn left otherwise.DSCN8282

And now the” icing on the cake” type news (ta ta ta taaaaa) – I have been invited for a  weekend in the snow at the end of the month. Just me. With my friends. How very lucky am I…

Proudly Presenting: Celtica

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Very proudly presenting Celtica today! Or should this post be called “Surprised about the merits of Negative Ease”? There is a lot to be said about finally finishing this intricate project. Let me not rant on and on, I put it in bullet points for you:

  • There was the issue of gauge, since I used a different yarn to what was specified in the pattern, this had to be accurate and I re-knitted the skirt (fronts and back in one piece) twice when I found that my version was too small
  • There was the issue of cable placement as I re-knitted this jacket and realized that it would look horrible with 2 half cables from armhole upwards, so I redesigned the cables and added the slim one at the centre front.
  • I knitted the sleeves top down, picking up stitches around the armhole and shaping the fitted sleeve with short rows. I knitted the first sleeve head 5 times, modifying the short row technique, and then I gave up – it is what it is. I love the shape, but since the sleeves use the purl side of the stocking stitch as the right side, there was no neater way to do short rows and knitting stitches together than what I came up with.
  • Buttons: I raided my extensive collection of buttons and found real treasures, but never 7 of one kind! I did not have time to go to the amazing button shop, and part of me resented that idea – having the said button treasure in my shed… so I tried to make buttons… decided none of them were working… and settled for a mixture of suitable buttons – I think it works.
  • The shawl collar is knitted in, as is the button stand – and I finished it all off by knitting a 3 sts i-cord around the entire jacket. Looks smart.
  • Finally – when I did put the jacket on – it was gaping about 2″ at the front. Shock, Horror! This is too small! But no, it’s Negative ease in action. This jacket fits like a glove, caresses me ceaselessly on cold mornings and is made for me.

Here is the button thought experiment in pictures: all sorts of lovely stuff… could I mix and match?DSCN8269

Here is a Dorset Button (right: made at the Knitters Guild some months ago) and one I made following a tutorial on Kate Davis’ blog (left) some time ago:DSCN8270

Then three samples trying to make it work for this particular jacket. But I decided that buttons in the same color would look drab. I did not have any other color that would look good… by this time I realized that any hand made button ought to be in a satin or silk finish.DSCN8268

And voila – a dog thinking I was setting up a photo shoot to show off his new, radical hair cut: “This is a nice and sunny spot for it, Mum!”DSCN8265

“And thanks for using your new jacket for it!”DSCN8266

“Even if you are finished now, I might just continue napping, ok?”DSCN8267

And what else? New ideas are overflowing my brain… a new project has been cast on. Not sure what it will end up being, so I will post something, once I have survived this experimental phase.

Life is certainly good. There is so much going on with 4 kids – it’s great. We all love the dynamics! I must make a photo of what happens in our kitchen in the mornings – lunch box assembly, breakfast orders, sock and school uniform hunts and last minute notes to be signed.

The evenings are no less busy. 4 kids in the study in various stages of doing homework, discussing maths, drama, parliament or history – playing music of any kind. Patrick coming and going to and from band rehearsals of any kind, me forever disappearing to Tai Chi/ Yoga or other classes or P&C meetings. In between countless lot’s of laundry processed (primarily by the children), afternoon teas being produced, consumed and the debris left in the kitchen, dinners produced and washing up piled in the kitchen sink. And whenever I think that now I have a moment peace to do some work or play – another trip to the shops to buy more food!

Patrick has put the window frames into the downstairs room and today the bloke is coming to put the glass in! So that is still ticking along. I have chosen curtain fabric and ought to go and look at it and purchase and sew.

Happy Days.

 

 

 

 

Comedy of Errors with a Happy Ending

Yeah… events started unfolding last week in our countdown to our 3 days in the snow. Two kids vomiting, one with skin hives… me packing and micro planning to load and unload all six of us into the small family 4WD to stay in Thredbo Youth Hostel for 2 nights, and one in a road side motel in Cooma on the way. I printed maps for locations, daytime and overnight parking, counted T- bags and muesli bars, pre-cooked meals, allocated socks, gloves and goggles…

I forgot that we had put the top box on the car roof and rushed off to a Tai Chi class on Wed night, only to find myself in the gym car park staring at a trail of bent roof signs as I was searching for a car park for my car… and then there was a crash and I realized that I had shaved one of the roof lights off with my top box. I felt a lot calmer after my class, but could not get OUT of the car park, since at the exit the roof was so low… so good job Jo was with me and the two of us had to take the box off, shove it into the car like a coffin and go home. We smiled for the cameras and are expecting a bill sooner or later.

The last thing on Friday on my list was to fill the car with petrol. But as I left to pick up the girls from school to have an early take off time – Jasper our dog was shaking like a leaf. Oh no, not another paralysis tic! In the car I rang the vet, YES, they could slot him in at 5pm. So I rang my dear friend Jenny and YES, she could take him. When I got home, Patrick was in the process of shaving Jasper on the table, and Jo was chopping all long fur off, including the tail – no tic! We sent Jasper off with Jenny, packed and took off – no petrol! We got some via detour and took off.

We received a call from Jenny an hour later – no tic – the dog had constipation!!! Great! No tic, no huge bills, happy healthy dog.

The snow was unbelievable! Best season in years. I am proud to say that my workouts in the gym really paid off, my legs lasted and my instructor paid me the best compliment ever: I made his legs burn! We squashed in the family room with an extra mattress, there was no room to walk or stand. Then for the next 3 days we just skied and boarded, eat and slept. No photos taken! It was difficult to board/ ski together, hopeless in fact… we all wanted to go different places and ski/ board at different levels, so in the end everybody got issued with musli bars and money to fend for themselves and we met up here and there via mobile phone messages. The trip back home after a long day on the slopes went well, thanks to Patrick who didn’t mind driving the best part of that long long drive.

I feel alive!

 

We’re off to see the Wizzard…

A quick post is better than no post – eh?

Patrick has only just unpacked his and Jo’s hiking gear after (what sounds) an amazing hike to Pantoni’s Crown… and I have started to set out all our ski stuff on the newly refurbished dining table – I don’t think we have had a single dinner on it yet!!! We will be skiing and snow boarding in Thredbo for 3 days. DSCN8252

I don’t think the kids will remember the terrain, so it will be interesting how we will manage to coordinate…    And here is an update on the cardigan hoot hoot:

I have finished front and back, grafted the shoulders, added the shawl collar and knitted a 3 sts i-cord all around! Looks very neat, I dare say. Not sure if I have got time to rummage through the button box before we leave. And I have made a go of the sleeve heads… sigh… I have tried and tried – my calculations for the pattern is spot on, I found as I knitted at at least twice – BUT the short rows are not pretty because it’s the purl side of the stocking stitch that will feature as the right side! So I have tried Wrap and Twist, Japanese and German short rows, and now I have devised my own and it seems to look pretty… (mental note to myself: take pictures of this new short row technique!)

DSCN8249DSCN8250DSCN8253Other news: we are all set for term 3 (I hope…). We bought Lena’s school uniform yesterday and she looked splendid in it! Today was her first day at school and she set off with Esther to the bus in the early dark and rainy hours of the morning. I am looking forward to hearing about her experiences! In the meantime I went back to work (yes, I could find my office and work the computer), but on the way home, I did stop off at the supermarket for MORE food and MORE exercise books… We love being a big family. The entire dynamic has changed, it’s all fun and games, even though there have been some stomach bugs and skin hives running through the family… all part and parcel…

Hiatus

I have not posted anything since our Easter trip in the bush! An entire term. Well, here is an update with what’s been going on.

Relaxing. I have simply been very quiet and mellow and inwardly still regrouping with myself and close family since the big move (I have even been lying in bed in the afternoons on the weekend, reading novels and napping!). I have read many books and really enjoyed forgetting the world around me. Then I joined a new gym and I can walk up there and take weight classes and yoga/ pilates/ body balance. I feel great! And I have started a low FODMAP diet and finally – after years and years of discomfort – have no tummy aches!

Knitting. That cable cardigan is very slow. I have mainly just knitted at basketball and soccer matches and then sat down for a day to really get ahead with it. NOW is the coldest time of the year and the cardigan is NOT finished! Near- daily craft opportunities in the evenings have simply evaporated… DSCN8095

 

So the winter sailing season has started – ‘hoot hoot’ – on the first race day there was so little wind that we didn’t even cross the start line… even thought we tried for 45 minutes to edge towards it. On the second race day we took off and came fourth. Happy Days… even if we had come last – it’s just such a good time on the water. The third race day we had a mutiny, the all girl crew refused to go out on the water since there was a gale blowing, but the captain stayed in his reality distortion field claiming it would be fun to go out (35 knots…fun?)

More children – we have had another child – not a baby, no no no,  my cousin’s daughter Lena has arrived from Germany and will stay with us for 2 terms (6 months).  We are so exited to have her living with us. She is just the right age to hang out with Jo and Esther. So it’s 4 kids in 3 different schools now… all going nicely in the school holidays, but I am sure I won’t know what has hit me next week, when we are all going back to school and work.DSCN8062

Work has been really interesting. I am transcribing a heap of interviews that my colleague conducted at a local hospital into innovation in surgery and now I am coding them into a special software program to analyze this big qualitative study. It certainly is a huge learning curve and a few unexpected themes have emerged with this – it is really nice to be thinking at work, instead of just doing admin and organizational tasks!

Renovations in our new home have commenced. We have no windows downstairs – we had to take them out to fix a steel beam that was rusted through and was supposed to hold up the balcony. The structural stuff has been completed, windows have been ordered and now we are just waiting for them to be delivered to put them in. Patrick has been amazing in managing all this and planning the next few projects ahead. DSCN8098I have sanded our old dining room table, a tiny contribution to beautifying the home… I am getting very tired of all the beige in this house and am craving the odd color injection.DSCN8096

I am hoping the air conditioning guy will come back to us soon with a quote – the reverse cycle has died and we have just about NO heating and this is the coldest month of the year here in Australia, brrr…

Quilting. There is so much nice stuff to do, so many ideas in my head, but I have too many quilts on the go to start something new, even a quick machine sewn quilt. So, I am plodding along with Esther’s hexagon quilt, slowly slowly and just pinned another star on the lounge room wall. DSCN8097

Listening. I have noticed that during the ‘full on working week’ it is all too easy to not hear people and that listening to others is not as natural as it may seem. During a regular working week most interaction is unfortunately restricted to telling off or instructing to do (kids) or filling in on events and schedules (husband) and plotting how the logistics will work tomorrow (myself). So, listening doesn’t happen easily. How we all feel, why we like/ dislike what we like/ dislike… dreams, hopes, motivations, funny ideas… all that what is most important too often stays covered below the business of the days. So, these holidays have been a bit of an exercise in listening and hearing that what doesn’t even get said aloud… wonderful.

That’s about all from me, for now…

 

Monolith Valley

DSCN7823We took some time out and packed up the kids and a few essentials and headed for the bush. Boy – it wasn’t as casual as this at all!!! Patrick took care to plan a route, I bought bigger boots and pants for some of the kids, lighter sleeping mats, gas and whatnot, calculated every biscuit and jelly bean we would consume on this 4 day hike and I even pre-cooked some meals which I then dehydrated… so it was actually really busy for days before we left. Despite all the careful planning and plotting – we still carried 13kg of food for all of us, 10litres of water and each ‘adult pack’ weighed way over 10kg…

We drove to Nowra, dropped the dogs at the budget kennels and drove another hour to Wog Wog, the car park. By then it was 2pm… much later than we had hoped, and we walked more or less straight to the nearest camping cave (3.5 hrs) at Corang and set up camp. It was totally amazing – we got there just as the sun went down and had just enough time to pitch the tents, get a fire going and cook a meal. We didn’t need the tent flies, so we saw the bright starry sky all night… just magic. DSCN7830 DSCN7835 DSCN7837

The next day we walked for 3.5 hrs to the next stop and set up camp near Bibbenluke Mountain for the next two nights and had lunchDSCN7838 DSCN7840 DSCN7841  DSCN7895

From the camp we had a great view of Mount Tan – the destination for our afternoon expedition. DSCN7848

Massive rocks everywhereDSCN7876 DSCN7880! DSCN7872

In the evening we had a great meal of re-hydrated spaghetti Bolognese and instant chocolate mousse (shaken not stirred in an empty water bottle and then put in the waterfall ‘fridge’).DSCN7897 DSCN7898 DSCN7900

We set out early for our day walk (without packs, phew!) to Monolith Valley. It was unbelievably beautiful, but the ‘track’ was not always obvious to us, so we took a few wrong turns. DSCN7913 DSCN7915 DSCN7923 DSCN7924 DSCN7926

But we did eventually end up on Mount Owen, enjoying the amazing views.DSCN7930

DSCN7932 DSCN7933And the way ‘home’ to our camp was much the same – finding the ‘path’ was often guesswork…DSCN7936 DSCN7939 DSCN7941

We saw amazing country. DSCN7955 DSCN7956 DSCN7960 DSCN7961 DSCN7962 DSCN7981

Amazing plants and bright green regrowth after a massive bushfire.DSCN7947DSCN7857 DSCN7912 DSCN7969 DSCN7986

Hope you had a good Easter!

Perseverance (Celtica – Take TWO)

I have been knitting steadily in the last few weeks, sadly there has not been the outcome I would have been proud to show off, quiet the opposite… So here I am nicely knitting away on Celtica and I am getting this far: DSCN7799

after swatching fairly thoroughly for needle size and alternative cable pattern (see below) DSCN7800 DSCN7801 DSCN7802

After knitting as far as the waist (300gr!) I realized that (1) this skirt for the long jacket is just a little too tight (because: of course I am using stash yarn and it is very easy to get astray with your gauge on a large pattern like this) and (2) this will look horrible because of the placement of those beautiful cables on the jacket! 8 cables, right? Two at the front, four at the back, two at the front.

But this garment has got a shaped neck (shawl collar) and set in sleeves. So what happens to the two cables in each front piece once one decreases for sleeve and neck??? Correct ! There will be 1/2 cable and another 1/2 cable on each front, OUCH, ugly! And I checked on Ravelry – that’s what all the knitters have done! But WHY did I not SEE this coming when I started? Why do I have to knit hours to get to the waist to SEE?

DSCN7815 I have started again. Small cable at the centre front each side – those will be decreased for the neck. Then remain 7 cables for front, back, front. So after the decreases (for front neck and sleeve) one complete cable will remain at the front – (going through to the shoulder), the narrow cable at CF will be decreased for the shawl collar, one wide cable (at the ‘side seam’ marked here with stitch marker) will be decrease for front and back sleeve decreases, 3 full cables on the back and so forth. Well worth doing, I reckon…

And if you are wondering about that small safety pin at the garter stitch edge – I am slipping in an extra 2 rows of garter stitch after 10 rows (5 ribs) in order to achieve the same length as in the main pattern – garter stitch has got a different gauge than the rest of the ‘fabric’!

And while I am putting this post together, I might as well show off Esther’s first patchwork sewn on the sewing machine! This will be a cushion cover, the back we will work when her friend comes over for a visit next time. It was amazing to see two 11 year old girls stitching away for hours and squealing with delight after the addition of each row!DSCN7818 It made me pick up Esther’s hexagon quilt again …DSCN7817

… and as a reminder (to keep stitching at it) I hung it on the sitting room wall  next to her cushion cover front!DSCN7816 Go – 70s Hessian wallpaper! Use it as design wall – no dramas!