Welcome to our World, Monkey Man!

DSCN4992DSCN4993This is the new addition to the ‘family’ – monkey man. He is from ‘Hop Skip and Jump’- Fiona Dalton’s wonderful book. He was ‘born’ over the last 3 days, so bit by bit he grew and came into being.

We have had a great few days. A bit of a roller coaster, every year it starts with my birthday on the 19th of December. Nights out, days out, parties, boating… all good, but we never factor in any down time. Today we were supposed to have an Aussie Christmas on the beach, but alas, it is raining. Everybody is relived, we are staying in and having drinks in the afternoon with the family.

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Saved by Walter!!!

Meet Walter, the steampunk fellow who has been living with us since fathers’ day! He belongs to my husband and Esther and I had great fun creating him in the shed. We think in summer he may prefer a mustache to the funny head gear… (which currently makes him look a bit like a piggy).

Walter was born in the shed when there was an amazing amount of patchwork activity down there, he knows it all first hand. He also witnessed my increasing frustration and inability to pull it all together what was going on in my head and decide on a clean and interesting design for the new quilt. And then he spoke to me!!! And I listened! And now I am happy, because I have gone back to square one and followed my initial instinct. In fact it is not ‘same old boring scrap fabrics on calico’ – well, may be it is, but it is a design that is clean and that everybody understands and that one can run one’s eye over for years and years without getting bored. Thanks, Walter for saving me!

Now Walter is textileshed’s head of design and production manager. He will keep a close eye on all purchases, production timelines and quality control! Welcome Walter!

So, here is where I am up to, and feeling very happy with this rather slow (hand sewn English Paper piecing) and traditional, but gorgeous new creation using endless amounts of hexagons:

What else?

Knitting is still happening. Many projects on the go, I am sure Walter will keep a keen eye on the completion of all before I start anything new.

  • The Dhalia cardigan is just about finished, just got to finish the last sleeve (a few inches), sew in the ends and get it off to Rebecca’s friend who is about to visit her in New York.
  • the red wool from Shetland is waiting to be turned into a vest for my boss’ partner (shame I could not convince him to have some decorative feature added…)
  • the grey cable cardigan needs a big cable band for the hem, it is just too short… it may turn into a huge alteration (new button and neckband…), but it will be worth it
  • my yarns from Edinburgh would like to be turned into a Fairlisle cardigan for myself
  • Timothy’s Bull has been hijacked by his brother Edward: Tim is still in Vietnam and Ed tried the jumper on for quality control, asserted it was going to be too small for Tim and I understand he has now kept it! Hhhmm, I will just order a few more balls of grey and hopefully get another one finished by the time Timothy will be home at Christmas…
  • there is some nice plain cream cotton in my stash that would be great to use for a cardigan for Josephine

This is what we got up to yesterday – we caught a swarm of bees from the neighbor’s garden! This swarm of wild Italian bees has been living in our gum tree for ages, last week they swarmed, a big humming cloud was hovering over our neighbor’s garden! And after 10 minutes the magic was gone and I couldn’t see where they had settled. Patrick spotted them yesterday under a low hanging rose bush!

Patrick just put a spare beehive box under the swarm and shook the branch to make them tumble into their new home!

And we know the bees are happy because they have their bums in the air, which means in bee language: “Hey guys, we found a new nice home, come and join us!”

And here is the ‘evacuation’ procedure from bush to box for the last bees!

Thoughts from within Plato’s Cave

It is cold and wet, very hard to get out of bed in the morning, not surprising that the kids cannot get up at all, even I am dragging my heels. Plato finds it even harder, as you can see… But once one ventures out of the house – the beautiful colors of the autumn leaves are thrilling, even in this weather!

It is hard to stick to the plan of the week, my schedule balancing study (one day a week, on a day where I don’t do any shopping, any kind of cleaning in order to maximize on the hours the kids are at school) work (one day at uni, any other time from home) and stuff around the house and food shopping and cooking and laundry and music lessons and swimmming and dog walking and helping with high school assignments on transformation and time travel… it is hard, because I have it all mapped out on a Sunday night – nailed the plan of my activities down – but then get thrown by kids taking turns in getting really sick or just feeling unwell and needing extra encouragement or nursing… so it’s hard, but all works out well, if one just goes with the flow!

The flow thing happens most reliably, if I get that 1 hr or 1 1/2 hr of knitting in at night, preferably with a glass of red.

Talking about going with the flow – we are used to the fact now that our house may be pulled down in 6 – 9 months time. Our home! But protests against greedy developers didn’t work, hiding our heads in the sand didn’t either, so now it is just something we have gotten used to. The trucks are rumbling on the building site 3 houses down every morning at 7am, 6 days a week. The street looks really uncared for: unread local papers and rubbish are littering the sidewalk. Never mind, we will pack up and go when we are told to and then we hopefully will get a house which has a bit more space and bigger rooms for children that have grown substantially in the last 13 years. Big deal. It’s just a house.

An what would a post without something textile be?

See Scary Spice? I made that coat for her in the mid 90’s for the Spice Girl’s first performance in the Royal Albert Hall, London!

And this is a coat for Richard E. Grant – nice, eh?

A New Project Revisited

It has not taken long for me to work out that my idea of the shell lace for a shawl jacket is not going to work. As Maggie Righetti puts it: “You have to ask the yarn what it wants to be!” 10 shells together look great, but I also hear the knitted fabric singing that it is not elastic enough for a figure hugging shawl jacket. It would just look limp and sad. It also sings a song about being soft but drapy, so it really would like to be a big shawl – and that a simple shape will show off it’s interesting pattern and the variegation in the yarn itself. That really makes sense, I hear you!

What have we learned? Keep it simple. Think before you do. Don’t mess with other people’s lovely design – if you want them, swallow your pride and just knit them as they are (people have given their design a lot of thought…).

But here is a happy chappy, James looks like a Buddha in Nirvana – a new jumper for Teddy; Teddy in his lap and a yummy meat pie in his hand! It looks to me that Teddy either needs serious foot surgery or some decent socks.

my knitting process

The way I knit is very intuitive. I have done it for nearly 40 years, so I don’t have to think much about what I am doing. In a way I tune out and get into the zone, and that makes it hard for me to follow instructions, even my own. Or to replicate something really cool.

Here is how I worked out Teddy’s jumper. I traced his shape, guessed how many stitches to cast on (I happened to be right) and then just knitted and as I knitted, I put it on top of my ‘pattern’ every now and again to check I was doing ok.

I made a little button stand at the neck, because Teddy has got a rather big neck. And I picked up the stitches for the sleeves around the armholes, because I am a little over all that sewing. The more I use the shortened row technique, the more I love it, it shapes a great sleeve head! Once you get your head around it, it is easy – and the fit is infinitely better than a straight/ square sleeve head (which is always bulging under the arm)

What is new here, is that I actually wrote down – as I went along – what I did, so now I have a real knitting pattern for any teddy jumper this size!