31 May 2006

I wonder ...

if The Yank is still sniffing her spoon

when Mr Soup will be in remission again

whether Tim Tams have touched down in Canada yet

if people really believe the words "God is on our side" and so that justifies war, torture and murder

if an omnipotent god would actually take sides

where our small blue planet is heading

how much longer my beloved aunt will be around

what my children will be doing in twenty years' time

if I will ever finish the three unfinished craft projects that continue to haunt me

how long it will take to conquer the blackberries

if my friend will get her longed for second child

where I put the rose catalogue and gift voucher

if I have truly come to terms with the fact that a fourth baby is not going to happen

why on earth I started knitting a pair of socks when I haven't yet finished the throw rug, two jackets and a child's jumper, or written the essays

why I am so STUPID

how long it will take to erect a small 3 x 3m shed

what the heck I am going to feed them for dinner tonight.

29 May 2006

more grovelling ...

One of the brilliant things about having a blog is that I have you [clever/awesome/helpful/good looking] lot at my disposal.

I've been trying to find out this information for over a week and it just occurred to me today to put it out there to my internets.

My mother is knitting a children's jumper from a Debbie Bliss pattern, called, I think, Moss and Garter Stitch Guernsey. Or something. She lives on the other side of the country so I don't have the pattern with me. Anyway, Mum's pattern is damaged and is missing the last couple of lines of the instructions for the sleeves. She has reached as far as "cast off one stitch at [each?] end of next ..."

Does anyone out there in blogland have this pattern? It's from Debbie Bliss' book Classic Knits for Kids (again, I think). I would be forever grateful if you could type out the last couple of lines of the sleeve instructions for me!

Pathetically grateful in advance ...

I remain yours,
Suse in the Soup

Weekend in five senses

:: hearing ::

:: waking up to the sound of duelling kookaburras.

:: the thud of children's footsteps running past my study window as they played hide n seek in the crisp twilight air.

:: the news of mayhem and chaos in East Timor.

:: Mr Soup singing The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen to Son #3 as his bedtime song. Mr Soup's mother used to sing it when she'd had half a lager down the pub. And her accent was the real McCoy.* But Mr Soup does a mean Glaswegian knock-off himself.

:: seeing ::

:: Romeo and Juliet at the Playhouse with Son #1. Mr Soup's health ain't up to it at the moment, so the eldest child got to accompany me to the theatre. It was rather good. Melburnians, go see it. Go on. Go!

:: the final episode of this [very short] season's Rose and Maloney. (Actually shown on Friday but I taped it and watched it on the weekend so it counts for this post). The English do the best crime shows. And I like that they don't franchise them. Because, you know, I hate spinoffs and franchises. Any day now I expect to see ads for CSI Hundred Acre Wood/Sherwood Forest or Law and Order: Special Unit for Crimes Involving One-Armed Black Jewish Short-Statured Lesbians. Who are Single Mothers. And Work in Libraries. Okay, so I just alienated half my readership. Don't crash the site, all commenting at once.

:: beautiful white rhododendron blooms just beginning to open. I am not a rhododendron girl. Would never plant one in a pink fit. They always seem to feature garish purple or sickly orange blooms and be paired with mauve azaleas, all contained within cats piss box hedges. But this inherited one wot came with the house? This one is staying. I'm quite smitten.


:: touching ::

:: the soft wool of Son #3's jumper. Coming along nicely despite interruptions to knit both him and Son #1 a pair of mittens each plus four more pairs for the market stall.

:: my new red felted hat, purchased at the market. For me! I had been thinking during the last couple of weeks that I must knit myself a hat for the winter. This is warmerand more aesthetically pleasing than I could ever have created.


:: smelling ::

:: shepherds' pie. Made by Mr Soup on Saturday night. The smell drew me in from the garden where I was throwing ...

:: horse pooh about in the garden beds.**

:: tasting ::

:: the crunchy bits of potato on the top of the shepherds' pie.

:: warm, buttered sourdough bread. Baked on Sunday and served for lunch with split pea soup.

sourdough loaf2

*Who was McCoy? One of you brilliant lot out there must know. You lot know everything.
**The dog just sniffed the garden and rushed indoors looking rather intimidated. When we used to live near the zoo, I would sometimes come home with a bag of Zoo Poo, and then he would get really scared.

27 May 2006

break schmeak

Random nostalgia.

Or 'Odd things I am pining for lately ...'

• my heritage apple trees, sadly left behind at the old house. I had Abbas, a heritage Australian variety; Cox's Orange Pippin, the justly very-famous olde English apple; Stayman's Winesap, an American vintage apple; and my personal favourite due entirely to the romanticism of the name rather than the qualities of the fruit, Peasgoods Nonsuch. Only the English could name an apple Peasgoods Nonsuch, don't you agree?

• the old John Hannah Rebus. The new show isn't the same. I miss John Hannah in the title role and almost as importantly, I miss the grittiness of Edinburgh. The latest incarnation seems to focus on the city's stately homes rather than its grim and brooding back lanes. I miss the dirt. Oh, and you, John.*

• continuing with the television theme (I don't actually watch much, contrary to what you may think). Coupling. I was kind of in love with Jeff the wacky Welsh guy. And Susan's right breast.** Come to think of it, it may just be the Welsh accent (Jeff's, not Susan's breast's. Duh.) So I could just rent Notting Hill and listen to Hugh Grant's flatmate for a Welsh fix. (The first part of my double-barrelled surname is Welsh, so I kid myself I could talk like Jeff and Hugh Grant's flatmate if I concentrated really really hard. And had two glasses of wine. And brandished a leek about my head. After all, I do a mean Indian accent complete with head wobble and I don't have a skerrick of Indian in me except for several years that my paternal grandmother lived there doing the memsahib thing while my father was sent to the Welsh relatives in boarding school hols.) (I'm rambling. You lot still with me?)

• being able to walk to the shops for milk. Or to the library. Or to a cafe. Or to the train station. Or to rent a DVD. Here I'm in the car for everything. {Although I mustn't grumble. The kangaroos I often spot on the way make up for it. The wildlife encountered on my aforementioned footslogs to the local shops usually featured possums [roadkill], feral pigeons [germ-laden. What is that awful disease pigeons carry? Candida? Cystitis? Bird flu? Chlamydia?], inner-city cats [mangy] and dogs [vicious and/or slobbery].)

• summer. Nuff said.

* Hello to the President of the John Hannah Appreciation Society who appears every time I mention John Hannah in a post. Hello! Welcome back!
** She flashed it in the bar one night and all who saw it became obsessed.

26 May 2006

The market is done and dusted

Hurdle number one cleared. The Twilight Market was held last night and I sold lots of things.

What things, I hear you murmur?

There were the famous flannels and homemade soaps
flannels soap


More mittens
mittens more



and I got busy with a hot glue gun and made a basket full of seedpod people. At the last market there were lots of children roaming around clutching a couple of sticky coins, looking forsomething tiny and affordable to purchase. And of course most of the goods for sale at all the stalls cost several dollars and more. So these little gumnut babies were popular ... only five left!
seedpod babies

I also sold some stuff made by my clever friend. Bags, shawls, and these gorgeous children's baking sets comprising an apron, rolling pin and cookie cutters.
cook set
I might extend the range and make a few gardening sets with a trowel and packet of seeds in the apron pockets.

I'm going with small photos these days so my sidebar doesn't disappear. Those of you also using elderly versions of Internet Explorer will know what I'm talking about.

In other news around here:

• Broadband (ADSL) is coming to my neck of the woods soon. Farewell ye olde dial-uppe internette. V.excited. (As Bridget Jones would say.)

• Son #1 got into the Steiner highschool we were hoping for. V.excited. That bribe at the interview obviously paid off. I mean, his natural charm shone through.

• The car needs a new muffler. We're breathing strange fumes and things are going blurry round the edges. Not good.

• Thank you for all your well wishes. I shall be absent again for a bit while I write papers and complete a small amount of paid work that trickled in. But I will return.

18 May 2006

sneaking back to show off

three's hat

I’m not back properly.
But I had to show off Son #3’s hat, now finished.

It’s all his own work except for the casting on, the final half dozen rows which had to be done on dpns, and the casting off. It is vaguely tulip shaped, due to the fact that when a seven year old knits, he tends to add a stitch here and there for added visual interest. I did teach him how to decrease though, to try and counter balance the widening effect.

He is oh so proud. He wears the hat all day long and at night too. Yes, even in bed.

hat back

Here’s the back, taken as he eyes off the coffee and hazelnut cake on the kitchen bench.

12 May 2006

Au revoir

… for a while.

I need to take a break from the blog, discipline myself and knuckle down to some things. I have two essays coming up for uni, another craft stall to sew and knit for, and an order for a cloak (in blue!), not to mention four knitting projects on the needles. It’s out of control round here and that depresses me.

More frighteningly, I must spiff up my curriculum vitae and go sell myself in a vain attempt to bring some money into this family. My usual source of work has dried up, and Mr Soup is starting to jiggle fretfully. (If anyone wants anything written, edited, proofed or otherwise manhandled into some semblance of eloquence, let me know. My rates are reasonable. Particularly when I’m desperate.)

I just ate thee Tim Tams in a row. Literally, without stopping. It’s a sign I’m in a funk and need to take stock. I’m kind of frozen at the moment and using the blog as a distraction.

I shall return anon.

11 May 2006

in which I have nothing to say so I post daft pictures

The marshmallow diet still hasn’t lost its novelty value. And it’s a much easier dessert than making a pudding.

Oh now I have a pudding craving. Orange, I think. No, chocolate.

Anyway, now that I have officially entered the hall of cookery invention fame (or pantheon, as it was so eloquently put), I thought I’d show some photos. You know, in lieu of actual content.


marshmallow two prong attac

Son #1 goes for the two pronged attack and toasts two at once. One for him, one for mum. He’s a good lad. The other two? Won’t give me even a nibble.

marshmallow close

That’s #3. He likes to wear his pyjamas inside out.

Hang on. It’s show and tell day, isn’t it?


Here is a t-shirt.

We don’t have GAP here, so I have no cultural understanding of whether this is cool or not, but I saw this at the op shop (which is where I buy all our clothes because we are so broke and pathetic) and liked it. That’s Son #2 posing at the old house last summer when it was WARM.

I’ve just re-read this and I think my PMT petticoat is showing.

10 May 2006

red letter day

The postman has been good to me again.

Chocolates and lollies arrived, much to the children’s delight.
They were a little bemused at the idea of peanut butter flavoured chocolates … and pronounced them interesting.
Lollipops and Milky Ways were a more familiar treat, and eagerly devoured.

and for me … a beautiful, enormous bag. It’s practically bottomless. Perfect for toting all my books and knitting and day to day crappe about.

bag detail

It makes me squeal with delight.

Thank you, my dear PILL.

7 May 2006

the weekend in five senses

Hearing :: the local community orchestra playing Mozart last night. It is the junior strings group attached to this orchestra that Son #1 is joining.

Seeing :: the street ghost! Coming home from aforementioned orchestral concert, we spotted a mysterious figure walking along the side of the road in total darkness. She was swathed in shawls, her face covered, and … get this … carrying a parasol. Neighbours had told me of this enigmatic spectral figure who is only ever seen walking in the moonlight. No one knows which house she lives in, and she does not talk or look at anyone. They reckon she’s a ghost.

Tasting :: toasted marshmallows. I love peeling off the outer crispy-cooked layer and toasting the smooth silky bit underneath, then peeling that off and toasting underneath …

Smelling :: the smell of the bush after rain. Clean, fresh, alive. Oops I sound like a toothpaste ad.

Touching :: the soft cheeks of my babes as I said goodnight to them a few minutes ago. Rosy from the fire and flushed from a busy weekend.

5 May 2006

Show and Tell: key


This key made a dramatic shadow on the wall.
Just as I reached for the camera the sun disappeared for the day.

C'est la vie.

4 May 2006

Pearl Buck Swing Jacket, Report #2 (sort of)

Ahem. I have been a poor knitter-alonger. Firstly I have no idea how to get the button on the right sidebar to work. (Insert pathetic plea for technical help, HERE).

But. But! I have thus far completed the yoke, one sleeve and am halfway through the second sleeve. All tricky bits have been successfully avoided to date. So ashamed.

The reason for the interruption (apart from essays and broken limbs and visits from ASIO regarding bomb-making instructions on the internet) is that Son #3 requested a handknitted jumper for winter. Two actually. As the elder two boys are now at the ages where Mum’s Home Knitting doesn’t have quite the same street cred as it used to, I jumped at this precious chance to knit for a willing offspring and abandoned Pearl with nary a backward glance. I was so keen to get going, I grabbed the 12 ply redcurrant yarn in my stash (it was meant to be a fisherman’s rib jumper for Mr Soup last winter) and shrieked Here’s a pattern! And it would look lovely in red! Yes!? And quickly cast on before the child could change his mind. Literally, from his first tentative utterance to yarn-meets-needle was about seven minutes.

I have already done both sleeves and the back, and this is the casting on for the front. I love children’s knitting – so quick and satisfying. Particularly in 12 ply.

three's jumper

And here’s the (very old) pattern. I’m not enamoured of the bobbly bits but he was adamant. I have altered the ribbing to become six rows stocking stitch followed by ten rows rib, to make it a little more modern.


Speaking of things being very old, want to see something funny? Here is the front of the same pattern book.

pattern book

Can you spot my brother?

I’m not in this one, but if you pick up any Australian Patons knitting pattern from the 1970s (and they are all starting to appear in op shops now) you will see my brother and I, in all our blonde cheesy-grinned glory.

I tried to get Son #3 to choose the jumper his Uncle J is wearing as it doesn’t have strange bobbly bits, but he wasn’t having a bar of it. Oh well. No accounting for the taste of a small boy.

3 May 2006

knitting pattern erratum

Correction: the size needles for the babies' booties should be 3mm, not 2mm. I'll go back and correct it on the post, but wanted to alert anyone who may have already printed it off and not noticed.

In which I attempt to provide a bomb recipe without attracting attention from the authorities

Here it is. The bomb recipe, due to popular demand.

Politically incorrect but oh so exciting for little boys. Photo documentation here.

The instructions.
Take a party popper (those plastic things that go bang and crinkly streamers fly out), and rip out the insides and re pack it with caps from cap-guns for aural interest, and add the gunpowder from another couple of party poppers. Scrape the coating off a few sparklers, which makes a grey powdery mess so make sure they do it outside or over newspaper. Then spike a sparkler through the whole thing. The picture here shows how it looks. That way they can light the sparkler and then stand well back. The flame gradually travels down to the party popper and ignites the bomb.

The rules.
Make sure the child is not holding the bomb, but has it wedged somewhere in a crack or between rocks, and of course DO IT OUTSIDE.
There must be a bucket of water nearby.
All children wear plastic safety goggles and have hair tied back, which adds a satisfying air of seriousness to the whole procedure.
We also have the rule that they must be 12 or over. The younger children watch from a safe distance.
Pets are put inside.
Adults supervise at all times of course.

It is pretty spectacular to watch especially if you light it after dark.

HAVE FUN. But be safe.

Knitted slippers

A pattern for knitted slippers/socks/baby booties

From The Children’s Year: Craft and clothing for children and parents to make by Stephanie Cooper, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marye Rowling. Gloucestershire: Hawthorn Press, 1986.
ISBN 1 869 890 00 0.

For babies’ bootees approx size 1-4 months you will need 20g (1 oz) 4ply baby wool and 1 pair 3mm (size 2 US) needles.

For children’s slippers you will need 50g (2oz) DK 8ply wool and 1 pair 4mm (size 5 US) needles.

For adults you will need 100g (3 1/2 oz) DK 8ply wool and 1 pair 4mm needles.

This pattern is good for using up scraps of yarn and making stripey socks.

Cast on 56 (for children’s size 68; adults 80) stitches and knit 26 (30; 40) rows in garter or moss stitch. At the beginning of the next two rows, cast off 12 (14; 16) stitches and continue knitting with the remaining 32 (40; 48) stitches. Knit 22 (26 or more, measure against foot) rows and then decrease as follows:
1st row: K2 stitches together and repeat until the end of the row. You should have 16 (20; 24) stitches.
2nd row: Purl
3rd row: same as first row. You should have 8 (10;12) stitches left.
4th row: Purl.
Break the wool, leaving about 15cm. Run the wool through the last stitches and pull tight. Sew securely. Sew up top and back of slipper. For bootees, make a twisted cord and run it through the folded over bit.

If you have a piece of leather, sheepskin or window chamois cloth, cut it into a foot shape and sew it to the bottom of the slipper for extra strength.

Crime/mystery authors for young adults

Much bloggy business to catch up on. The book list, the slipper pattern, and also people requested the bomb recipe, which should bring me some curious visitors from Google. I'll post all these separately so people wishing to download don't get irrelevant stuff.

Here is the compiled list of everyone's suggestions for crime/mystery authors for young adults. Again, a big thank you to everyone!

Authors of crime and/or mystery stories suitable for young adults.

Marjorie Allingham
John Bellairs
Wilkie Collins
Nancy Farmer ‘House of the Scorpion’
Artemis Fowl
Dick Francis
Cornelia Funke
Kerry Greenwood (‘Phrynne Fisher’ series)
Charlie Higson (‘Silver Fin’)
Tony Hillerman
Anthony Horowitz
Laurie King (‘Holmes/Mary Russell’ series)
Donna Leon
Ngaio Marsh
Phillip Pullman
Ellery Queen
Dorothy L Sayers
Stephen Saylor
Georges Simenon (‘Maigret’)
Rex Stout
Josephine Tey
Arthur Upfield (‘Bony’ series)

1 May 2006

Snippets from the weekend ...

... on this misty grey Monday.

• Toasting marshmallows over the fire each evening.

• Desperately wanting this cookbook, based purely on the aesthetic qualities of the cover. Is this wrong?

• Listening to Son #1 and his violin teacher play a Bartok duet.

• Visiting friends who also have three boys. Our #1 and 2 are the same ages as their #2 and 3 and the two pairs are great buddies. We did a swap on Saturday and each took home a different child for a sleepover.

• Son #1 and his friend are classical music fiends and bomb partners. You know, because we believe in encouraging our children to explore a diverse range of leisure activities. (For those of you who joined my blog late and have not yet witnessed the amazing Soup Pyrotechnics, I direct you to here.) This time they made a model house, complete with chimney, windows, tv antenna, barbecue, letterbox and tiny wee people, and proceeded to blow it up. Spectacular to say the least.

• Listening to Paul Kelly in the car with the same two children. Hearing them gradually overcoming their snobbery regarding any music composed post-eighteenth century and admitting to each other that they actually quite liked it. Listen, it’s going up in fifths. Ooh, that went into a major key there. Me smiling to myself and not understanding a word of their discussion. The mysteries of a musical education.

• Buttermilk pancakes for breakfast.

• Missing Son #2 (on the sleepover, remember?). The house doesn’t feel right when one of them isn’t in their beds.

• Son #3 feeling teary as he didn’t have a special sleepover friend. Special treat for him – watching Narnia on DVD.

• Taping Whale Rider which was on tv last night. A great coming-of-age story for pre-teens. Heck, for anyone really. Highly recommended.

• Two miners, trapped underground in Tasmania for six days and feared dead, found alive on Sunday evening. (The third man sadly was found dead a couple of days ago.) The country holding its breath while work continues to get them out safely.

• Today – taking Son #2 for his follow up appointment at the Fracture Clinic. The plaster cast that is UP TO HIS SHOULDER will remain for another four weeks. Then dropping in to Uni to hand in a (late) paper on witchcraft, gender and sexuality in Germany in the early modern era. Which I finished very very late last night, er, this morning.

There have been many requests for the slipper pattern, so I’ll dig it out and post it, as well as the accumulated list of recommended mystery authors for young adults, over the next few days. Watch this space.