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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wombat and Pikachu were both really tired. Taken at my sister-in-law's place after a tiring day's play. (I was tired too!!) My sparkly Opal socks are just visible.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thank you

I've just been going through sending emails to those of you kind enough to comment or otherwise email me about things on here. I can't seem to pick up email addies for Debi and Helen, so thank you publicly for the nice things you said about my scarf! I am about to go and make a beaded pin to go with it - and maybe one for myself too!

Just had one of those conversations with George that goes like ... 'It's the book fair at Blackburn High School this weekend. You should go through the fiction books and cull them ruthlessly.' 'I did last year.' (Once every ten years is about right, isn't it?) Humphy silence from other end of phone.

The latest pair of socks, finished last night. It is a Regia yarn, the usual self-striping job. Apparently they fit George perfectly and he likes them.

An area of the Brisbane Ranges that was burnt out last year. The eucalyptus trees need fire to regenerate and are showing lots of new growth. These are grass trees, also known (most unPC!) as Black Boys. They need fire to regenerate too - they apparently go up like petrol bombs!


Ooh, spring is springing in beautiful Melbourne and I am sneezing. It's a lovely mild sunny day today with a strong wind, blossom trees are shedding their load everywhere, and I am sneezing. Six months of hayfever coming up. Yes, I do take stuff for it, goodness knows what I would be like without it!!

Busy, busy weekend. Baby Bear is now off school sick - the inevitable result of an overly busy week followed by the busy weekend. In the last week she has - done the normal school and music stuff; had late nights Tuesday and Wednesday doing orchestra practice (with two orchestras on Tuesday); sat a music theory exam on Wednesday; had a late night on Thursday performing with one orchestra in an Eisteddfodd (the School Bands Festival); had a late night Friday at Youth Group; on Saturday we went to Geelong for the day to see my mum; she slept over at a friend's place on Saturday night; yesterday she performed with the other orchestra at a concert, and sung a solo with a choir - no wonder she was throwing up at 7am and looking very grey around the edges! She is spending a quiet day in her pajamas making bracelets and reading.

The trip to Geelong was exhausting. It's not a great drive - a dangerous road, even though it had been upgraded a lot, and to tell the truth my mum lives in a fairly awful part of Geelong that we hate visiting. That makes me sound so snobbish - but I just don't like taking my kids to an area where the streets are full of broken glass and there is a lot of violence and drug-dealing. I hate it that my mum lives there (no, it's not where we grew up - not even in the same city) but we don't have the space for her to live comfortable with us - we would need a granny flat as she is fiercely independent and wouldn't do it under any other circumstances, and we don't have anywhere to put one - and she can't afford to move (frankly I doubt if she could even sell the house - it's quite pleasant and comfortable but houses just don't sell down there and are worth next to nothing).

She's just got a new dog - she had two beagles, Becky and Kelly, but poor Becky had a stroke and died a couple of months ago. Tilly is a 3 year old Cavalier King Charles spaniel - not my favorite breed of dog (sorry, no offence meant! But I prefer bigger dogs with long pointy snouts!) Tilly is a darling, very loving and cuddly and nice-natured. I hope she is happy living there - we took the dogs for a longish walk (Sirius came down with us) and Tilly was panting a bit by the time we were halfway through.

After a pleasant lunch we came home via the Brisbane Ranges, a lovely little mountain range northish of Geelong. This was partly to take photos of Baby Bear for the next Sheepeasy pattern - yes, the scrumbled scarf will be released as a pattern in October - but partly just because it is a lovely drive. We spend a couple of hours meandering around, stopping to take photos and look at plants and animals - several kangaroos and wallabies. Then dinner at McDonalds and home, very weary.

Baby Bear's concert on Sunday as a success. It was a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon at Glen Waverley Uniting Church, which is the church we attend. She plays clarinet with the church orchestra, and had been invited to sing a small solo with the Free Spirit choir who were also singing in the concert. George's mum came down for the concert and we had a great afternoon together. The orchestra was, frankly, a little off-key (well, a couple of the newer and less experienced members were), but performed well enough. Free Spirit were excellent - they are good enough to be professional - and Baby Bear's solo in One Small Voice (from Sesame Street) brought tears to my eyes. She was very good! Lots of people rushed up to me afterwards to praise her, which was very gratifying.

Now what I really want is a completely quiet day - but of course she is at home and George has just spent the morning working on the dining table. Never mind. She wants to make some jewellery now that he has gone (and cleared the table) and I need to make a pin or something to go with the scarf - which I hope to post out on Thursday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's hard to see the details properly in this photo but I thought it looked pretty on the azalea bush.

Close up of the scrumbling at either end of the scarf.

The scarf exchange scarf is finished!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The scarf is finished

Yes, I've just finished the scarf exchange scarf, and I'm quite pleased with it. I am still concerned that the recipient will find it too frivolous and not sufficiently useful, but it is pretty so I hope she will like that aspect of it. I won't post it off until the first week of September, as Celia asked. I think it needs a little beaded pin or something to do with it so I might get my stash of largely unused beads and wire out and do something. I keep buying bead stash but not using it - naughty of me!

I will take a photo of the scarf tomorrow, when hopefully George and the camera should be working at home in the morning. We are taking Baby Bear and one of her friends to a Music Theory exam in the afternoon - she has studied quite hard for it so I hope she does well.

First thing tomorrow we have our regular termly meeting with the school principal and Wombat's teacher and teaching aide. We discuss his progress and plans for the future. (Does anyone have plans for the past?) On the whole he has had a good year this year, in large part due to his wonderful teaching aide, who is worth her weight in gold.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The freeform hat I made for Baby Bear in June, which is now called Mariposa. The pattern will be on sale at Sheepeasy Designs from September 1st (as a PDF file for $AU7).

The scarf I am making for Celia's Scarf Exchange. The pile of colourful jumbles will become scrumbling at each end of the scarf - I am currently sewing them together and aim to have it finished by the end of the week. It really does bend round like that! A pattern will be available in a few weeks time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

One of the sillier photos of me - last Christmas at a childrens' event at church.

Magical Pikachu.

A king parrot - filmed at George's mother's place outside Moe.

My aunt went to Loch Ness and brought me back a monster hat.

Our Pikachu family - Baby Pikachu, Mummy Pikachu and Daddy Pikachu.

It's Raining

That's good. Living in a dry continent like Australia you learn never to sneer at rain. When I lived in Gloucestershire in the UK it rained so much that everyone complained - though the gardens looked great! - but here people who complain about rain get glared at. And we live in Melbourne, where it is comparatively wet anyway, though we are in an extended (like, 10 years!) dry spell. Many other parts of Australia are in SERIOUS drought conditions and may not recover within my lifetime. Unfortunately today's rain is the wimpy sort that makes the ground damp but doesn't do anything else worthwhile.

We are in the tail end of winter at the moment but all the spring flowers are appearing. One of my great joys right now is watching the daffodils and jonquils pop up in unexpected places all over the front garden. Last autumn we gave Baby Bear and her friend E a big bag of bulbs and told them to plant them throughout the front, wherever they liked. At the time this felt a bit dangerously laissz-faire, but now I am really pleased that we did as it is so much fun seeing them appear everywhere! Pics at the weekend when the digital camera comes home from George's office.

Wombat has been off the last few days with a bad cold and I am starting to feel brain meltdown. Lovely kid, but so clingy when sick! Combined with the inevitable Aspergers thing of KNOWING you are the centre of the universe and thus the most important thing in your mother's life ... by bedtime last night (his bedtime) I was so exhausted that I just wanted to flop in front of the TV and not talk to anyone. (OK, that's actually my typical evening anyway...!) Of course I then had to field two phone calls from very nice people who really wanted to talk to me. R and J, I hope I didn't sound too away with the fairies when I was talking to you last night! I then attempted to watch what was probably a really good documentary about the end of the War in the Pacific, but having missed the first half and being so tired I couldn't really concentrate. MDA was good, though. A pity that it is obviously jumping the shark - why does dross like the appalling Big Brother do so well on the ratings but excellent, high quality Australian drama like MDA has an audience of three tired housewives and their pets?

Started reading Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake last night. Brilliant, scary, post-apocalyptic stuff. Not the kind of book to give you pleasant dreams, admittedly. Fell asleep haunted by the thought of it.

I managed to write the scrumbled hat pattern yesterday - taking all day in between requests for sandwiches and iced drinks and cuddles. It's difficult to know whether the instructions I have written down for various things are sufficiently easy to understand. Part of the construction technique sounds really hard when it's written down but when you are actually doing it, it is quite intuitive and obvious - I hope so, anyway! Over the weekend with get George to take appropriate model shots with Baby Bear (he does that so much better than me) and apply his desktop publishing skills to making it look more polished. I have decided that I am good at the designing and can write the instructions down, but he needs to pull it altogether - I tried on my own but he is much more talented than me in that direction.

Will try to take other pics at the weekend too - daffodils, progress on the scarf exchange scarf, that sort of thing. Speaking of which, I am now suffering a crisis of confidence over that - I fear it is far too frivolous and not at all practical, having looked at progress reports on other blogs.

I've discovered Etsy! Another selling forum, goody. It's still in its Beta phase but looks like it might turn out to be rather desirable. Ebay has its good points, of course, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on Etsy in the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Big Purple Thang

We spent the weekend down at Moe with George's mum, going over paperwork - I seem to have become the official filler-in-of-forms because I can, when required, write in large clear capitals. Rather surprisingly exhausting. Baby Bear was off on a church youth group camp down on the Peninsula somewhere, where apparently she had great fun and has come back apparently full of a desire to be baptised and confirmed. Good for her, we always thought it best to leave it up to the children to decide whether they wanted to do this sort of thing for themselves, not impose it on them as babies. My only real concern is whether she will want to be baptised in our own pool in a sparkly bikini, and if this would really count as Sacred Space!!

Wombat coped well with the weekend - it was fun for him to be the only child, and he had free run of the TV and DVD player, but he also had to do a lot of sitting around waiting for grown ups to fill in forms and photocopy things. He lasted very well, really, and was rewarded on Sunday morning by a nice long visit with his big cousins D and L. They all played companionably on computer games and watched The Simpsons. He's got another heavy cold now, though, and is off school. We gave him a Gamecube for his birthday (second hand) and he has played on it all day today.

I decided that I wouldn't do anything that involved concentration as he is clingy and constantly wants attention, so I've caught up on reading emails, done some scrumbling and played altogether too many games of Snood, in between providing drinks and the occasional snack and very frequent cuddles.

No progress pics of anything, but plenty of knitting progress to report. The socks that were excelklent car knitting on the trip to Albury have continued to be car knitting, with the result that I am about ready to do the heel on the second sock. I am using a very jolly Regia in the predominant colours of red, white and blue, with flashes of green and black - George calls them the Tyrolean socks.

The Big Purple Thang of the title is one the three designs I am working on for the next Sheepeasy Patterns. It's a drapey vest knitted in a myriad of, mostly, purples (with bits of pink and green and orange and a little glitter here and there). It is designed so that you can pin it on either side, or allow it to drape - at least I hope that's how it will work out! I am nearly three-quarters of the way through it, though admittedly I haven't worked in any ends as I go so that will take extra time at the end! I have been tossing up edging ideas - it is mostly stocking stitch, with generous ribbing on the fronts - and am still thinking about that.

The other two designs that will be appearing sometime soon are a scrumbled hat - completed ages ago but still waiting writing up - and the scarf I am doing for Celia's Scarf Exchange. I am well on the way with the scarf. I have knitted the body of it - a relatively narrow and plain scarf in a K2 P2 rib, in a Bendigo Woollen Mills 5 ply Rustic in a dark teal (more green than anything else, really) - and have been working on scrumbles to embellish it with over the last couple of days. It will be ready in time for the deadline and I hope the recipient appreciates it!! As it is an original design I thought I may as well write up the pattern for it to sell on the site.

I have numerous other ideas for original designs that will follow in due course - there will probably be a scrumbled bag and shoulder shawls coming out next, plus I am toying with some scarf ideas.

The scrumbled hat would have been done by now if I had pulled my finger out, but for some reason writing the patterns seems to be so much harder than thinking them up in the first place!

Friday, August 12, 2005


Thanks, Lee, for the lovely compliment! (In the comments).

Scrumbling is my true obsession. Legal, too! It's also known as freeform crochet (or freeform knitting and crochet, or just freeforming). There are some disputes as to who originated it and its connections (or otherwise) to modular knitting/crochet. I came across it when browsing the Net about three years ago and found Prudence Mapstone's site. It wasn't quite as exciting then as it is now, but even then it was a moment of perfect synchronicity for me. I had been looking around for a new knitting challenge, having got bored with Kaffe Fasset (sorry, Kaffe!) - I'd signed up for a knitting class that sounded interesting, with lots of embellishing, but that was cancelled - and I found this site. I immediately ordered her book and set to work. There was a fair bit of crochet in it. I could crochet, but tended not to, so that was a bit of a learning curve!

Not long after I had started scrumbling, we all went up to Sydney for two weeks while George did some urgent work, instead of having a summer holiday. I did my best with the kids on my own, but Wombat was at his autistic worst and it was hard. We spent a lot of time sitting in our air conditioned apartment, and I scrumbled while he watched cable TV. It saved my sanity and gave me an enduring love for what is, essentially, a form of patchwork.

How do you do it? Well, any way you like! One of the things I love about it is that there are no rules and you cannot make mistakes. Some scrumblers are more rule-bound than that, and their work is lovely. If I want to follow rules, however, I use a pre set pattern. When I scrumble I like to go with the flow.

When I make a scrumble I do this - I make a centre piece, in either knitting or crochet, about an inch or so across - a square, a triangle, a rectangle, a circle or something misshapen. Then I work around it, adding bits here and there, either knitting or crocheting straight onto it, or doing separate pieces and sewing them on afterwards. When the overall piece is approximately the size of the palm of my hand, I stop and make another one. What I do with them depends on what I think I might make out of them - for the cape I made lots of scrumbles and sewed them together at the end, and then added some bits and pieces here and there to fill in gaps. I deliberately left some gaps because I liked to effect they gave. I sewed some beads on in various places, just for fun.

I made a hat for Baby Bear recently, in which I did separate pieces and attached them as I went, using a hat block for shaping. I am writing up a pattern for that which will be on sale by the end of the month (hopefully!) at Sheepeasy Designs.

Anyone interested in scrumbling will find lots and lots on the Net - Prudence's site gives some interesting links and a Google search will come up with lots of things too. Big warning, though - you either love it or hate it, no-one seems to be lukewarm about it!!

And for anyone who thinks it is a great way to use up your oddments of yarn - well, it is, but I guarantee that you will end up buying twice as much again, because you keep seeing things that would be perfect for it. I can rarely resist buying a multitude of single balls of new and novelty yarns, because they will be great for some freeform project or other.

Amazing what a child can do with craft materials. Wombat under a couple of metres of wadding. It was never the same again.

A pair of socks I made for George last year. I think the yarn was a self striping Regia. Yes, he does wear them to work under a suit!

A close up of some of my scrumbling. This is the cape that is too warm to wear most of the year.

This is the last pair of socks I finished for George. They were knitted from a Lana Grossa sock yarn and we think they look great! Taken in an Albury motel, hence the rather motel-like bedspread.

We spent a weekend in Albury in July. Sirius was boarded out with a loving family and an active lab cross to play with. This is how exhausted she was when we cam ehome! she slept for the best part of two days.