27 April 2008

Corners of My Home, by the nine year old

corner of the dining room, by Son #3

That corners of my home flickr group is still going, I see.

I found this on the camera today. Son #3 took it. I liked the light, and the wonkiness.

This is a corner of the dining room which currently is not used for dining, as the table is covered in skeins of yarn. Whoops.

The glass vase you can see was from an op shop many years ago, and the gum leaves within it (Red Box), now dead artistically dried, are from the garden. You can see a little silver milk jug, which is part of the silver tea set that the mister bought me for my 30th birthday many moons ago. I love it, but had no idea how much work it is to keep silver clean. No wonder those old houses full of silver had butlers.

The print on the wall, hidden by the eucalyptus branches, is one I bought for the mister for Christmas a few years ago. It's quite dark, and depicts a scene in a house, looking down from a kind of mezzanine level to a room below that's lined with bookshelves. In the centre of the room stands a man, holding an artist's palette and gazing at an easel. The audience can't see what's on the easel. In front of the artist, but with her back to the viewer, is a seated nude who is so white she glows in the darkened room. The figures are almost cartoonish in the way they are elegantly elongated. I have no idea who painted the original; it just took my fancy one day and the mister is always saying we should have more artwork on the walls.

You may also be able to see a black key hanging on the wall above the cupboard. (See it closer here). It does not open anything in this house.

The cupboard itself is art deco style, but probably not actually art deco. It used to belong in the flat upstairs when Mr Soup and I lived in that now groovy suburb. When our beloved neighbours moved out they got rid of a lot of furniture and we scored this. I also have their old velvet-upholstered chaise (although I had to buy that one). The cupboard is our Artwork Cupboard, which means it holds all the children's paints, pencils, paper, craft supplies, origami paper, um what else, tiny little scraps of very important crappe that I mustn't throw out, glue, scissors, and a whole heap of junk. Every six months or so I clear it out and make it tidy but within two weeks it's so messy again that you can't open the door without things spewing out. I think they must like it that way.

That white mark on the wall to the right of the cupboard is where a bit of mud fell off the mudbrick wall and had to be shoved back up and spackfilled.

Yeah, not a great colour match. We are such good DIY-ers.

25 April 2008

Lest we forget how to make Anzac biscuits

Baking is a good thing to undertake on a day of national commemoration.

Anzac biscuits

These would generally be considered sacrilegious because they contain dried apricot.

Anzac biscuit recipe with apricot

But they're yummy all the same.

Anzac biscuits

In addition to fruit they include bran because we ran out of porridge oats. But let's not open up that can o' heretical worms again.

23 April 2008


The view on an autumn morn

My surroundings are peaceful today. The trees are still, bellbirds are chinkchinking and some other kind are tweeting and cheeping in a classic, storybook manner. Apart from the birds it is utterly quiet. There are no cars or planes to clutter the stillness; now the rhythmic chop of an axe comes, the dull thuds floating up the hill to me. A kookaburra sits not ten feet away, lazily watching me as I type.

The calm here is in stark contrast to my state of mind. I can't find peace or stillness right now. My head is slack and slow, there is a thickness behind my eyes and my hands tremble. I'm sleep deprived, irritable and feel overworked although I know that really I'm not. Deadlines loom, competing for my attention and in the midst of it all and on top of it all, the mindless administrivia of running a household and family threatens to overwhelm me and drown me in its endless crushing loop. I am tired of being the one who holds it all together.

Such bitterness and resentment.

The kookaburra just opened his beak in a long silent laugh and turned away from me to face the hills.



Middleclass problems, I know. Sometimes I need to be reminded of my blessings.

Don't we all?

20 April 2008

all the chicks back in the nest

The boy is back and as everyone predicted, had a wonderful time. It didn't rain. Nor was it even particularly cold. No one was homesick or injured, no one had to be airlifted out (don't scoff, it's happened before) and the best bits were the evenings when they all gathered around the campfire. It was, however, very sandy and desertlike and everything, including the child, has returned covered with a layer of fine red talc. He reports that ancient rock art is very cool, feral goats are not so cool, there were a number of roaming emus as well as roos (we're quite used to those; so blase), no one had a shower in the entire seven days they were gone, and everyone slept under the stars, even those who'd remembered their tents. (Tents are just for storing luggage in, didn't you know).

I fully expected him to sleep the day away today but he was up bright and early to tune his violin, requesting he be dropped off at the local market to busk and earn enough for his next iTunes card. Life goes on in teenworld.

More dyeing?

Yep. I forgot to show you these.

"Octopus' Garden" skein
This one's called "Octopus' Garden" and it's 100g of DK 8ply, handpainted with Kool Aid. I think I'm going to have to hunt down that USA Foods shop that's somewhere over here, the one that caters to homesick Americans who can't survive in Australia without regular injections of Pop Tarts, Kool Aid, peanutbutter flavoured sweets and iced tea in plastic bottles (blech) although I think we sell that last item here these days anyway. Still blech. Tea should be served hot and in china, I believe. Anyway, must.have.more.Kool.Aid.

'Lolly Shop' skein
Yep, more Kool Aid. This colourway was dubbed 'Lolly Shop'. Most of these yarns I've been transforming were rescued from the op shop and although up till now I've been lucky, sadly this one had a certain amount of moth damage. I gave the whole bag 24 hours in the freezer to kill any remaining creatures and then started winding it into skeins but quite a lot had to be cut away. As a result this skein has too many joins to be sold or given as a gift so, (how sad), I will have to keep it. It's an 8ply DK and the colourway is growing on me. I didn't like it at all, at first.

And just because I can't stop showing off and what else is my blog for, here are a couple of dye jobs that recently left my house and crossed the Pacific. This one is the 'Sacred Jewels' skein shown before on the blog, now on its way to a lovely Texan knitter,
'Sacred Jewels' skein

while this lot is also off to the US, to another very impressive knitter, (and who said no good ever came of a blind date?),
'Plum Trees' colourway, for Jen

who paid for the dyeing, with, what else, more yarn!
malabrigo worsted
Three beautiful skeins of the delicious Malabrigo. Wow, this stuff is like butter. I love the internet.

I'm looking forward to seeing what these talented women make when those parcels arrive.

19 April 2008

woolly wonders

From the dyepot this week ...

'Boysenberry Ripple' colourway
a little 50g skein of 'Boysenberry Ripple' colourway in a bulky 12ply. I'm thinking it can be paired with two other balls of mid brown 12ply I have in the same yarn to make a chunky winter hat.

'Midnight Velvet' colourway
'Midnight Velvet', a 100g skein of DK 8ply. Originally a grey, this yarn was kettle dyed to make a scrumptiously dark purple.

'Rainforest' colourway
Two 50g skeins of sock wool, purchased undyed from Live2Knit and kettle dyed by me with a mixture of two different greens and not much mixing, so the colours would be intense in some areas and light in others. I'm keeping these. Mmmm, on a sock roll these days. (Son #3 named this colourway 'Rainforest').

'Desert Bloom' colourway
This yarn was originally a 1970s caramel colour. It was handpainted by me with Kool Aid (brought to Australia by the generous Sueeeus. It's 100g of 12ply Patons Jet, now renamed by one of the children 'Desert Bloom'.

'Luscious Plum'
Kettle dyed chunky wool yarn, dubbed 'Luscious Plum'. Yum. This is that huge 16 or 20ply wool that Steiner schools buy in for the children to learn to knit with. I bought some from our craft teacher years ago for Son #1 and he knitted most of it up, then ripped the whole lot out and gave me back the wool saying he'd had enough.

Speaking of Son #1, we get him back from camp in about half an hour. I'm going to hit Publish and jump in the car. This last hour has gone soooo slowly ... I'm aching to have him home again.

Before I go, this is what I did today. Please be impressed, cos I am.

My very first handspun!

My very first handspun.

It's thick, it's thin, it's overspun, it's totally terrible, but it's mine.

Thanks to the Spinsters, who got my wheel up and running and my fingers a-spinnin' again. I feel a whole new addiction blooming.

And now I'm off to fetch my babe.

15 April 2008

It's not going to be a relaxing week.

This is my bed. It's warm, cosy and dry. As one should be when one sleeps.

Hold that thought for a moment, if you will.

My eldest boy, my firstborn, my precious wee babe, is here for a week. If you follow that link you'll see what a spectacular place it is. It's also very very far away. It takes sixteen hours on a bus to get there. It's in the desert which means it is bitterly cold at night. He has no tent.

Can I just repeat that? He has no tent.

At his school, when the class goes on camp, the children break up into pairs or trios to share food, tent, equipment and so on. So he and two friends joined forces, and the planning between the three families began. One had a tent and we offered to purchase a little camping stove and the planning for a week's worth of shared meals began. The children had to be at school at 6:00am on Sunday so you can imagine what Saturday was like. Cooking, washing, packing, repacking, airing of sleeping bags, boot shopping, organising, sewing of name labels, the measuring out and packing into ziplock bags of portions of rice, milk powder, cereal, etc. One final phone call to confirm that yes we had the stove, yes we had the cooler for their milk, cheese, butter and sausages, they had the tent, yes. Yes yes yes. Yes.

We rose at 5:00am, dressed and packed the last few frozen items into the cooler, and Mr Soup drove him to school in the predawn light. The bus was loaded and the gaggle of overexcited teenagers boarded. Just as the teachers were about to board, the mother of the other child said ...

Oh my god I forgot the tent.

Postscript: I worried and wrung my hands uselessly for a week. He arrived home and I enquired how they survived in the open without a tent and he informed me that no one used their tents, they all slept on tarps under the stars and used the tents only to store their belongings in so they didn't even miss it. All that worry, for naught!

13 April 2008

Naming colourways is easier than blog posts

'Plum Trees'

This one has been dubbed 'Plum Trees'.

'Plum Trees'

It's 100g of wool/mohair blend, thrown in the dyepot as an afterthought when I finished dyeing some gorgeous chunky yarn for a client. A client! I know! (Photos of that yarn to come).

Dyeing lesson learnt - mohair sucks up dye like nobody's business, wow. The camera is doing its usual thing of highlighting the pinks. In reality the pink is more plummy, and the green features more heavily.

Unsure whether to put up this one for sale or hoard it for my own self as the colour combination is one of my very favourites. Oh, and the etsy shop is up, although not yet running. Stay tuned.

9 April 2008

don't you find coming up with post titles the hardest bit?

The menfolk are at a soccer match tonight so I'm eating minestrone straight from the Tupperware and downloading random thoughts.

These boulders at Mt Buffalo reminded me of sleeping lions. Or buffalo. (Buffaloes?)
like sleeping lions

I swatched the hand dyed yarns to see what they look like knitted up. Very pleased. I think I'm going to try selling them because a) I want to share the love and b) my stash is already reaching monumental proportions. Look out etsy, here I come. I wasn't in front of the computer when I was winding them from skeins into balls, so didn't have ready access to all your wonderful suggestions for colourway names, but Son #1 helped with the winding and dubbed them clockwise from top left: 'Sacred Jewels', 'Northern Lights' and 'Forest Floor'. The book was a birthday gift from a dear friend who had no idea I'd been lusting after that particular title.
'Sacred Jewels' swatch'Northern Lights' swatchnew book!'Forest Floor' swatch

The dog has an infected tooth which needs to come out. It will cost $500. I pointed out that we could purchase four new greyhounds for that.
Good thing someone loves him.

I'm still knitting baby items even though I don't have a baby on which to display them.
Golly models the pixie cap
I do have a politically incorrect toy though. Pattern here.

Feeling wistful tonight.
love rock

In other exciting news, I bought a crockpot last week.

We are now eating a lot of brown meals.

7 April 2008

Regular weekly blogging

There's a plethora of babies around here.

And so, knitting.

Mary Jane baby booties

These were quick and fun. The pattern is from here and is a much easier knit than That Other One (which remains half finished on my desk).

mary janes

I liked it so much I made some red ones.

Also for your viewing pleasure, please behold the retina-burning properties of Son #3's new socks.

Son #3's make-your-eyes-water socks

The pattern is the generic Opal sock yarn one, and the yarn was part of a gift parcel, previously mentioned. (And if that post just linked to just showed up in your bloglines, it's because I had to update it before I linked. As you were).

Son #3's make-your-eyes-water socks

I finished these socks at Craft Retreat recently - boy it felt good to actually complete a project. After some discussion about provisional cast on and short row heels, I feel ready to branch out and try a new sock pattern. Living dangerously, as you can see. I'm also having fun slowly exploring and uploading projects over at Ravelry so do look me up if you hang out there too. (I'm Suse3, just like at flickr).

Son #3's make-your-eyes-water socks

Look at those knobbly little nine year old knees. Adorable, no?

Son #3's make-your-eyes-water socks

With guest appearance from Meggie Moo.

Earth Hour

Lucky I didn't get around to clearing away the multitude of candles we had scattered everywhere during Earth Hour, as a few days later Melbourne was hit by horrendous storms and we were without power for 24 hours. All very early pioneerish etc but I was ready to knit under electric light again. Reading by candlelight takes an awful lot of candles too, I discovered.

Also, I forgot to remove the paper from halfway down that green candle up there on the left, so it caught fire and set off the smoke alarm. Good to see the batteries don't need changing yet.

PS. For those of you waiting on the book news, I gave up on The Gathering after skimming the last few chapters and deciding it was all too miserable. Over Easter I gulped down Water for Elephants by the campfire and loved it. Lots of action, atmosphere and characters I cared about. Very visually evocative too - there'll be a film of it soon, you mark my words. I'm still struggling through The Bloody Overrated Mists of Avalon because I HAVE TO, but the Mary Stewart Arthurian trilogy is far far superior and remains my favourite. Am on the final audio tape of Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson in the car and love how once again Atkinson writes about horrible miserable things (incest, domestic violence, time travel [ok, not horrible] and murder) but makes it entertaining, matter-of-fact and thoroughly enjoyable. Unlike Ann Enright who just weighs your spirit down. (As, you might argue, one's spirit should be when confronted with that kind of subject matter. Me? No. I like enjoyable thankyouverymuch). Edited to add: ack! That sounded so flippant. I didn't mean it to, particularly as I listened to the final tape this afternoon while driving around running various errands, and the tone of the story changes considerably. Fabulous though. I think I might be a little bit in love with Kate Atkinson.

PPS. Did you see the final episode of Life on Mars? God. Oh god.

PPPS. Guy of Gisborne is becoming smoulderingly interesting in Sunday night viewings of Robin Hood isn't he, but the American version of Creature Comforts which follows isn't a patch on the British version.

1 April 2008

Retreat and Dye

It feels sooo long ago now, but the weekend before Easter was once again Craft Retreat Weekend with the usual gang of talented pals, some with blogs and some without. It was a fabulous (hot) weekend of laughter, craft, sensational food, conversation and friendship. Wow, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to go on these weekends.

I did accomplish a few things too which always helps.

Undyed sock yarn

Sooz had asked if we could have a dyeing session so she and I donned the rubber gloves and got stuck into it. I'd bought some delicious undyed sock yarn (100% superwash merino from here) and some Landscape dyes to try out.

wool in the cauldron

We wanted to steam the yarn but didn't have a colander, so improvised with sticks and tinfoil in the cauldron. Thanks to Janet for taking this gorgeous shot when my camera batteries ran out.

hand dyed sock yarn, skeined

My very first hand dyed sock yarn! (I'm so proud). I wanted socks in gently blending shades of red, purple and pinks, with a ping of mustard and this yarn turned out exactly as I'd imagined. (In real life the yarn is less pink and more red than these pics).

hand dyed sock yarn, balled

I had great fun winding the skeins into balls with Di's swift and winder. Look at those lovely little cakes of scrumptiousness. Now to find a sock pattern worthy of the yarn.

I dyed some other yarn too (sport weight 5ply) and although I'm not thrilled with the resultant colour combination, I figure someone might be. I'm undecided as to whether to sell it ... or how much to charge. What do you more experienced yarn fiends think? Is there a market for this? I thought someone with a pink-purple loving little girl in their life might appreciate its not so subtle charms. Anyone want to make me an offer? (SOLD. Thank you)

Here it is. 200g of Patons Bluebell 5ply sport weight 100% wool yarn.
Clockwise from top left: before dyeing it was candy pink; after dyeing it was candy pink, blue and purple; another shot of dyed and skeined; finally wound into four 50g balls.
Patons bluebell, 5ply, waiting to be dyedPatons bluebell, dyed and skeinedPatons bluebell, dyed and balledPatons bluebell, dyed and skeined

I have other stuff to show from the Retreat, but that's it for tonight. I have a hot date with a West Wing dvd (up to Series 3 now) and a cup of hot chocolate. Sam, Josh, CJ. Oh yum.