29 January 2011

high tea

Chilli Tea

Finally, some knitting content. (You may cheer or leave now, depending on the level of your interest in knitting).

Looking back over my archives it seems as though I've knitted only socks and shawls for the past few years, but actually there were a couple of very successful short sleeved cropped cardigans (although somehow they don't quite seem to count as they're just rectangles). Anyway I am mightily pleased with what feels like my first garment in ages.

The pattern is the justly famous Tea Leaves which has now been knitted by over 1000 Ravellers. The pattern is elegant, beautifully written, results in a gorgeous garment and was a gift to me from the lovely Tania when I said at craft camp last year that it was high up on my Things to Knit list. She challenged me to a knit-along faster than you can say swatch, and generously procured me a bona fide purchased pattern a few days later.

I bemoaned some weeks later that I had too many wips languishing on the needles already, but of course succumbed and cast on a couple of nights before Christmas, and it became my three-day-car-journey knitting project. I cast off while we were on our island holiday, returned to my parents' house and rummaged unsuccessfully through Mum's button box for something suitable, finally packing it away reluctantly to be blocked and be-buttoned back home in Melbourne.

So now it's done. And of course, being back in a Melbourne summer (as opposed to a Queensland summer which is still hot even when there's water water everywhere), I've had several opportunities to wear it already. And I love it.

Chilli Tea

The cardigan grew lengthwise with blocking (but not widthwise thankfully), resulting in the sleeves now being a smidge longer than I'd like, but for now I'm leaving it. If they drag annoyingly in my supper too often I'll rip out the cuffs and shorten them a tad.

Interestingly, this project has kicked off my knitting mojo which went missing in action for the last couple of months of 2010. Since then I've knitted a pair of wristwarmers from the remainder of the Tea Leaves yarn (during the car trip home), and a cabled beret in deliciously soft alpaca. I've also made good progress on a pair of socks in a denim sock yarn that has thus far tried to be an Aeolian shawl, a Damson shawl and a pair of patterned socks in turn. Each was successively ripped out and the yarn is now happily becoming a very simple ribbed sock. My Big Garter Wrap, which is acre upon acre of soothing garter stitch, is now officially two thirds finished, but there are no pictures yet because it's knitted in hand dyed chunky green wool which will be dyed either a more consistent deep dark forest green or charcoal upon completion.

Yep, I've got the bug again.

Vital statistics
Pattern :: Tea Leaves
Yarn :: Morris & Sons Woollahra 10ply/worsted
Colour :: Chilli
Needles :: 4mm and 4.5mm
Started :: 21 December 2010
Finished :: 10 January 2011

Full details, notes and photos have been ravelled.

24 January 2011

The holiday.

Our holiday was pretty much overshadowed by the weather and later the heartbreaking floods, but we managed to pack in a fair amount of activity in addition to rather a lot of lazing on various couches.

Normally we fly to Queensland but we drove this time in an attempt to save money see some sights en route, chief among them Dubbo Western Plains Zoo on the way there and The Dish on the way home. It's a long drive from Melbourne to Brisbane; about the length of one Harry Potter audiobook (Order of the Phoenix), or for the knitters out there, one cardigan's worth.


I can highly recommend Dubbo Zoo. It differs from most zoos in that you hire a bike or golf buggy type thing, or drive your own vehicle around the specified route, stopping as often as you like to get up close and personal with the animals, many of whom are out and about in the open and separated from the visitors only by moats or deep crevasses (tigers and cheetahs excepted. They were behind wire).


There were about six different species of rhino but this splendid armoured cartoon character was my favourite.

furry antlers

These reindeer (?) were reaaallly close. I was fascinated by their furry antlers - they remind me of nightmarishly ginormous spider legs. Creepy but faaabulous. I kind of want to stroke them and I kind of don't.

world's tiniest green frog

The photographic record now jumps to northern New South Wales (I knitted furiously between Dubbo and the Tweed Valley and the camera didn't make it out of the bag). Here we have the world's tiniest frog. That's an 11 year old's little fingernail for scale. Isn't it unbelievable?

tweed valley
(That picture is for Jo, if she still reads here. Home!).

We had the annual mowing of the grass ...

annual mowing of the grass

Followed by the feeding of carrots to my uncle's next door neighbour.

meeting the horse next door

And another horse. My uncle's latest magnificent woodwork. (He's hanging out for grandchildren).

the horse that David built

From that point onward it rained a good deal of the time. We headed up to Brisbane where we caught up with more relatives and made our regular pilgrimage to GoMA, two days before it flooded and was closed, like much of Brisbane.


I'm not sure what they were watching up above, but the Lego city interactive installation was a big hit.

lego city interactive installation at GoMA

After a week with my parents we escaped to a nearby island for four days. More rain. More knitting. More reading.

pouring rain
can you see the torrential rain?

Poor Mr Soup had no knitting so he had to swim in the pouring rain,

wild surf at Couran Cove

and gaze wistfully at the wild, raging, man-eating surf.


The wind howled. I knitted on. I was also rather ill by this stage and continued to be unwell for two and a half weeks despite two courses of antibiotics but sickness makes for tedious blogging so there will be no detailed descriptions of my symptoms. (You're welcome).


The sun came out for one hour on the third day and the children had an archery lesson. Raging success. Sport and weaponry combined!


After our island idyll *cough* we returned to my parents ostensibly for one day's stay, which due to the floods closing all routes south, turned into several. In the end we were finally able to access the New England Highway, which meant no Dish, and three full days of driving instead of two, but we gratefully arrived home dry and intact (with not only a completed cardigan but a pair of wrist warmers as well), heartily sick of Stephen Fry's dulcet tones, and in shock at the severity of the floods both in Queensland and now in Victoria.

pretty maids all in a row

Going home the pretty way did mean that the children got to play soccer on the hallowed ground of the Bradman Oval (my god, ten points to anyone normal [ie. non cricket tragics] who makes it through the copy on that link) ...

soccer on the Bradman Oval
(yes there's probably a law against it)

and a motel room with cable tv so they could watch the soccer game that they were missing out on attending in person (we were three days late by now).

evening activities

The menfolk watched the match while I lived it up on the motel's stoneage internet "Free Wifi!" And coughed. Oh sorry.

My personal highlight of the journey home? An introduction to the world's largest concrete sheep.

Goulburn's ram in the morning light

It's a ram. Just take my word for it and be thankful I'm showing you the bow not the stern.

22 January 2011

eleven years ago

family portrait session goes pear shaped

I was going through some old photos tonight. I miss those days.

Not that these days aren't fun too in their own way.

21 January 2011


Home, finally.

Our departure was delayed by a number of days and even then we had to go home the pretty way, so when we got back it was straight back into work for the grown ups, hanging around the house for the chillun, taking down the Christmas decorations, and celebrating the middle child's 15th (!) birthday. Oh and laundry. Laundry, laundry.

More later, including lots of photos of our holiday, but in the interim I'll leave you with this.

they have their birth years tattooed on their bums

Persian Onagers at Dubbo Zoo. They came over to the fence as a group to investigate us, sniffed, then turned in unison to leave and flashed their tatts at us.

12 January 2011

mother nature

sunset from mum and dad's front door

Like everyone, we've been glued to the television for the last couple of days, watching the horrendous news of the floods unfold and keeping up to date with the latest water level estimates and evacuation orders. (We are safe where we are, just wet).

sunset through the omnipresent palm trees

All the roads southbound are closed so, as much as we are keen to be heading home, we will be here for a few more days yet.

evening shadows

So much death and destruction. It's heartbreaking.

If you would like to help, you can donate to the Premiers Relief fund here.

3 January 2011

the summer, she is here

Pav the Second

We are in the hot steamy end of the country for a couple of weeks (but don't burgle our house, we left vicious and mean housesitters there, nyah).

We had many adventures getting here! Hot springs! Wild animals! Floods! I knitted almost an entire cardigan on the trip.

We arrived and I promptly made pavlova (pictured) twice. (So very proud).

We are staying with my parents. There is ample opportunity to practise one's deep breathing.

We have visited several fine beaches and experienced quite a lot of Weather at one of them.

Today we took the children to Wet n Wild and now I am having a strong drink. Hence the clipped sentences.

Happy nine ladies dancing day.