30 September 2007

handmade paper

handmade paper

By popular demand (well, one person demanded), I leave you with a picture of the handmade paper the children made at the workshop run by the Plant Craft Cottage at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

We're heading off for a few days R&R ... see you later.

29 September 2007

Flashback Friday: #2

flashback friday aged 12

I know it's Saturday, but I work on Fridays okay? And we mustn't blog at work oh no definitely we must not.

This is me being a 12 year old tourist in Perth, circa 1976. I was digging around recently in the old photo albums to show the firstborn some pictures of quokkas and other Westralian oddities delights in preparation for his orchestra tour to WA and found this. It's one of my favourite shots of me from my childhood and I quite clearly remember it being taken. We were at some colonial era gaol (the Roundhouse?) doing the touristy thing - that's an information leaflet in my hand - and as I was carefully negotiating the steps in my first-ever pair of Grown Up High Heels, Dad softly spoke my name so that I looked up and he snapped me mid step.

I like the spontaneity of the photograph and the sheer, honest, delighted smile on my face. Usually when faced with a camera I didn't know what to do, despite years of knitting pattern modelling jobs and magazine shoots and the odd television commercial. Without a professional director I was hopelessly awkward in front of cameras.

I remember a few weeks prior to that holiday my mother suddenly realised I had no wardrobe suitable for two whole weeks away. I wore a school uniform five days a week and owned probably one pair of jeans for weekend wear and a skirt or two. Mum and I took a special trip to Southland to purchase an A-line skirt pattern, fabrics and three long sleeved plain t-shirts including the blue one in this photo. She then proceeded to sew me three skirts, the blue one above which if I close my eyes I can remember was cool and crisp to the touch, a green patterned one which was my least favourite, and another that I can't recall. I know there were three though, and with my new sandals (with heels! my first!) bingo, I had A Wardrobe. Of course, this being the 1970s she also bought me a green and white striped long t-shirt dress. Full length. Horizontal stripes. I'm not showing photos of that one.

And it was hell to climb trees in.

As you can see I was a skinny little thing; flat chested and with chicken legs. And even then I couldn't do a thing with my hair. Not much has changed, although shortly after that holiday I took up sailing and spent years hanging by my toes over the side of a small dinghy (safety harnesses are for wimps) which built up my calf muscles considerably. My legs never looked quite so scrawny ever again.

That family holiday to Perth was an absolute cracker. We took the Transcontintental train across the desert from Melbourne to Perth; a journey that took 3 nights and 4 days. My brother and I spent the days roaming the train, rapidly acquiring the rolling gait of sailors and train travellers necessary to accommodate the train's rhythmic swaying motion, hanging out in the Club Car with its card tables, leather seats and a piano if I'm not rather romantically making that up, peering at the intimidatingly posh folk in First Class, pitying the poor plebs in Third Class who had to sit up in seats all the way, and being grateful that we in Second Class had tiny wee sleeper compartments with Lilliputian beds which the Carriage Butler folded out of the wall each evening and made up with crisp cotton sheets while you ate in the Dining Car (Second Sitting for Second Class Passengers).

The train track from Adelaide to Perth features the world's longest unbroken stretch of utterly dead straight train track. The track isn't fixed to the soft red desert sand, but just laid down and as a result, the train can only travel at a maximum speed of 60kph. That was in 1976; I wonder if it's still the case. The kangaroos (red, to match the desert and totally unlike our grey ones here) used to lope alongside the train in slow motion, racing us and winning, effortlessly.

The atmosphere of that train trip permeated the whole of our two weeks' holiday in Perth. It felt exotic, dreamlike and somehow magically removed from the everyday reality of our lives.

We travelled to Perth again four years later when I was sixteen, but journeyed by car that time. Unlike the train, the road hugs the coast and the landscape is not nearly as spectacular as that seen from the windows of the train. It was a trip with an entirely different flavour.

More Flashback Fridays here.

26 September 2007

a little something for everyone

bowl of strawberry bookmarks

More strawberry bookmarks. Made using this pattern and adding a tail to turn it into a bookmark.

More knitted play food.

knitted pear

Created using the eggplant pattern from here but tweaking it a bit to elongate it into a pear shape. Might tweak it a bit more next time.

I’ve been experimenting in getting ‘Lifelike Shading’ into my knitted foods. (Try not to be jealous of my life). I’m pleased with the strawberries – I’ve finally worked out that I need to begin with the darkest red, gradually incorporate the medium red, and work in the pink right at the top as the green begins. It’s only taken 36 strawberries to achieve something natural looking.

As for the pear, I used a light apple-green yarn knitted double strand with a thin yellow homespun yarn (seen on mittens here) to try and get a variegated green and gold pear-like look. I think my next pear will be yellowy brown. And will feature one little leaf, fetchingly positioned to the side.

It’s all so thrilling! I hear you say. Shut up.

Onto other stuff. It’s school holidays here and my children are busy making a movie. It all started with Son #2 fiddling around with Mr Soup’s mobile phone (creating a ring tone of his own voice yelling Dad, Dad, the phone’s ringing! Someone wants to talk to you! Quick, answer your phone! as Mr Soup discovered when he was at work yesterday and someone called him) and found the little three minute movie feature. They had a great time filming themselves, and that was it. They were off, onto bigger things. They dug out the real movie camera, Son #1 quickly devised a plot (featuring guns created out of old clingwrap tubes and gaffertape and the gruesome murders of several cast members) and shooting began. Literally.

• Son #1 has a hidden, rather disturbing, talent for script development. Genre: horror.
• Son #2 can make a very realistic gunshot sound.
• Son #3 is a talented little actor, and does an excellent death.
• Tomato paste stains light coloured clothing.
• Learning that windows act at mirrors and if you film someone exiting through a glass door, as the door closes behind the actor, it will reveal an earnest looking cameraman and a very casual and slightly distracted director swinging in a tree behind the cameraman. This will not be obvious on the tiny screen of the camera, leading to discovery only later that night as you watch the rushes on the tv screen. (Rushes. See we’ve got the jargon down already? Cool, huh. Must teach them to say Action! rather than Go!).

I interrupted their filming yesterday to drag them off to a papermaking workshop at the Botanic Gardens (in the Plant Craft Cottage), which I’d booked them into last week when Son #1 was in Perth and not around to object. They ended up having a great time, despite much eye rolling from a certain 13 year old young man, and this morning we have 21 pieces of homemade paper drying on the clothes airer by the fire.

After the papermaking thing we wandered into the city whereupon we witnessed a man juggling firesticks which perched on a ladder, and ate the world’s most expensive ice creams at Southgate. Home via the library and the Chinese takeaway. I love school holidays. This morning as I ignore them and blog in my pyjamas, I can hear them singing their new favourite song ‘Canadian Idiot’ (Don’t wanna be a beer-swilling hockey-nut … and something about pre-emptive strike) and plotting the sequel to their cinematic masterpiece. I just heard mention of crossbows and swords.

Think I’ll go knit another pear.

Edited due to objections. Lyrics to 'Canadian Idiot' here. It is, of course, sung to the tune of 'American Idiot'.

24 September 2007

Sweet knitted nothings

knitted cupcake

If I'd have known you were coming, I'd have baked a cake ...

A knitted cupcake made for a young girl’s birthday on the weekend, from this pattern, but tweaking it, doing the icing in stocking stitch and adding some increases to make the cake pouf out a bit more. I’ll pouf it even more if I knit it again.

knitted cherry keyring

And this is for me. To spruce up my rather pedestrian keys.

23 September 2007

clearly, she doesn't cook often enough

I just found a tin of condensed milk in the pantry.

Best Before April 1999.

18 September 2007

and she cooks

muesli biscuits

Muesli biscuits.

Original batch sent to me as a thank you. So good that I scoffed half before the offspring arrived home to noisily demand a share.

The batch pictured were baked by me last week. Divine. And gone already.

Muesli Biscuits

90g butter
2 tablespoons honey
1⁄4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup untoasted muesli
1⁄2 cup plain flour
1⁄2 cup desiccated or shredded coconut
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 mixed dried fruit

* Melt butter with honey (In the microwave or in a saucepan). Stir in the bicarb.
* Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl mixing well. Stir in the honey butter mixture.
* Roll teaspoonsful onto a lightly greased or baking-paper lined trays. Flatten slightly with a fork.
* Bake in moderate oven (180 deg c) for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on trays for a few minutes or until golden before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

ps. the child is still not homesick and I daren't ask about the hygiene situation; I just don't want to know any more. I'm too preoccupied by the fact he's not homesick.

gah .... quick, have a look at another felt animal.


I've called it a horse (on Flickr) but I think it's a mule really. And for those who asked about the books, there's now a link on yesterday's post to the op shop book with its title, while the felt animal pattern book is available here by preorder.

plug plug

16 September 2007

normally I compose my posts in Word, then fiddle and cut n paste

but this afternoon I am flying by the seat of my pants, so to speak.

I have no particular post in mind, so let's see where it goes shall we?

Kim wants to know what I had for lunch, she's so desperate for me to post. Kim dear, today I had tinned tomato soup with buttered toast. Does that make you happy? Son #3 had the same, and Mr Soup and Son #2 had cream of chicken soup. Both also with toast. Last night for dinner we had homemade soup! Clearly, this is the House of Soup.

I have no idea what Son #1 had because MY BABY IS IN PERTH WITH HIS INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE (BUT INSURED) VIOLIN WHICH IS KIND OF FREAKING ME OUT. Let's talk about something else quick.

Here, have a look at a camel.


No, I didn't make him. I photographed him.

I think I mentioned recently that I'm now working one day a week at the most beautiful shop in the southern hemisphere and boy is it fun. I get to chat all day with a good friend, catch up with lots of people from the Melbourne Steiner community when they make the trek to do some shopping there, pack people's mail orders (hi Jenny!), play with beautiful felts and yarns, sell my handknitted baby socks on the front counter and have done a photoshoot of some items for an upcoming book. So, buy the book and you can make your own camel!

OK, shameless plug over.

Apart from that I am at uni two days a week and my regular serious proper-clothes job two days a week so guess what? I'm kind of full time occupied now. No time for housework or blogging and the vacuum cleaner broke anyway which is rather sad because you should see the state of my floors. This did however, free me up to scrub the shower and bath today, and I even shined the kitchen sink so being vacuumcleanerless has its benefits.

Hmm, what else? This unplanned blogging is unnerving; I'm all over the place. And if my computer crashes as is its wont I WILL LOSE IT ALL AND THAT WILL SERIOUSLY PISS ME OFF. I feel like Badger with all these caps. Yo dudes.

I'll fill you in on some vignettes from my week, shall I?

Son #2 had a violin concert on Thursday night. Son #2 does not enjoy violin and it kind of showed in the expression on his face, but he got through it and he only has one more year to go before he can drop violin (not literally despite the insurance) and pick up a saxophone. Or clarinet which is smaller and more portable and also allows for a greater range of musical pieces too (being an older instrument)?

Son #2 also had his soccer presentation night on Friday night where we watched them all line up and be presented with a trophy each. And then to our absolute pride and the child's bewildered delight, he was called back to receive Runner Up Best on Ground. Oh we are so very proud.

Cricket season begins next week. Oy.

Son #1 is not the least bit homesick and reports via phone he hasn't had a shower the entire time he's been away because he's too shy to ask his host family if he may have one. Will they suggest it when he becomes [even more] whiffy? He is a thirteen year old boy after all. Do I get on the phone and intervene or bravely hold back and let him work it out himself? (He is a thirteen year old boy after all).

Remember I said ages ago (can't find link) that I took part in an academic study on op shopping? Well the project is finished, the art installation um, installed at the Pipemakers Park and the book launch was held on the same evening as a certain young man's violin concert which is just typical. It's not often I get invites to book launches and exhibition openings. Never mind, I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED watching Son #2 sigh his way through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and didn't think rueful thoughts about opening nights and champagne once. Honest. And Ihave quotes in a book using my real name (no, not my porn name) and everything! Buy the book! (Look, another shameless plug!)

In other news, today we bought a chainsaw.

11 September 2007

some answers

Q. The crying and dropping of things?
A. Premenstrual.

Q. The scarf from two posts ago?
A. Here.

Q. The violin?
A. Quite safe, thanks, and about to tour Western Australia for a week with its owner. (Gulp).

10 September 2007

everything you ever wanted to know about my weekend

So you know how my last blog post left you with the pleasant image of me baking, then heading off goldpanning followed by an orchestral concert? And you all thought, oh, doesn’t she live the most gorgeous, relaxed, pink-hued life, surrounded by happy smiling musical children who never dream of playing gruesome gory games or ever refuse to get their hair cut and who know exactly how to entertain themselves in a productive, creative and thoroughly wholesome manner with little more than a seedpod and a bit of string?

Yes? Well, last night as I wearily plodded through the blogosphere, commenting on your blogs through a Guinness-tinged haze, Kim sent me a brief but endearing email that went something along the lines of:

"Good weekend?"

And I said (verbatim):


Saturday: Son #3’s soccer Goalkick, at oval 9am sharp. Son #1’s final soccer match for season (different suburb and oval to Son #3’s of course). Then, Son#1’s violin lesson in afternoon on other side of town. Son #2 dragged along to these events, whining and complaining was bored. Rest of day filled in with laundry, vacuuming, making fish curry (sensational but too hot for littles, recipe available on request) and eating it around (new! Built by children!) outdoor firepit (inaugural firelighting ceremony! Much smoke. Retreat indoors). Stay up until midnight cruising blogland and cursing stupid crashing computer. Restart computer four times. Cry a little at lack of funds for new computer. And new car. And bathroom with tiles not cracked and mouldy and taps not faux (and tarnished) gold.

Sunday: Son #2’s final soccer match for season, 8.30am. Followed by special 'team break up brunch' held at, wait for it, McDonalds. Husband and Son #2 attend this, while #1, #3 and I stay home and do laundry, bake cake, bake bread, vacuum bathroom, place vacuum cleaner hopefully in bedroom with vague notion someone might take hint, no one does, blog briefly about knitting projects and plans for glorious musical sunny relaxed and wholesome day with beautiful talented family. Return to kitchen. Scrub stove. Go back to computer and empty camera memorycard onto computer so can take camera to artistically photodocument goldpanning and concert playing, children frollicking in Spring sunshine etc. Pack car with picnic rug, basket with thermos (forget mugs but remember camera), two children, incredibly expensive violin and now cooling cake for fundraiser afternoon tea later at concert, and head to goldpanning event at river. Attend goldpanning with Son #3’s class and their families (this class big on community family outings). Lie on picnic rug drinking tea in sunshine (out of lid of thermos) and gossipping chatting with other mothers while children attempt to find gold in river and cry when fail, grab pies from bakery for lunch because didn’t have time to pack delicious organic homemade lunch. Feel nervous at thought of incredibly expensive violin sitting in car. Son #1 announces he’s bored. Tell him to go read his (gruesome gory violent) book in the car, thus violin-sitting at same time. He refuses, preferring to sulk and roll eyes near me. Husband and Son #2 arrive at river from Son #2’s soccer match in which his team were soundly thrashed 11-1 (one child in opposite team nabbed for Manchester United trials, that's the calibre of the team they were playing against, they're eleven years old for fuck’s sake [whoops, swearing en blogge alert]). Son #2 cries when tells of defeat and because team has been soundly thrashed by all teams, all season long, also cries from tummy ache from McDonalds egg and sausage McMuffin (because tummy used to wholesome organic shiny happy food). Son #3 crying from lack of gold (I know the feeling). Son #2 throws off tummy ache and attempts goldpanning. Sulks at lack of gold (I know the feeling). Son #1 bored and teenagerish and asking to go to library to borrow more hideous cd's to illegally copy and add to his collection. Husband takes Son #1 to library to escape crying and sulking children and mothers' gossip chat. Son #2 and Son #3 whine they're bored. Husband and Son #1 return from library. Off to next event! Move violin and music and cake from my car to husband's car to drive in one car (tread lightly on earth, save petrol etc) to school orchestra concert. I drop cake on dusty, bark-laden ground. Stand frozen, say shitshitshit three times very fast, hope no one saw cake land face down in dirt. Pick up cake, wipe bark and dust off cake, rearrange on plate, deliver to school dining room (with added fibre-y goodness) to be sold for afternoon tea fundraiser. Son #1 plays in orchestra. I cry. Famous local singer’s community choir (made up of parents and ex students from the school) sing. I cry again. At interval buy and eat cake brought by someone else. Delicious. Hope people are buying and eating my cake, but feel guilty that people might be buying and eating my cake. Sulk quietly over dropped cake etc. Son #2 and Son #3 whine that they're bored. Leave after concert. Arrive home. Realise left my car at river. Drive to river, collect my car, drive home. Drop cake plate as exiting car. Plate shatters. Cry. Eat leftover too-hot fish curry and children have tuna and rice because curry even hotter tonight. Bring in laundry. Spend hour folding, sorting, piling, while husband walks dog. Clean kitchen. Read story, skip a page or two, chivvy children into bed. Cruise blogland with assistance of alcohol. Husband watching football/soccer/game with ball on tv. Ooh just brought me cup of tea! Time for bed. All begins again tomorrow. Sigh.

(You asked).

[end of email]

And I didn’t take a single photo.

9 September 2007

red knits for a sunny Sunday

irish hiking scarf for Fathers' Day

It’s years since I knitted a scarf. They do go on, don’t they?

knitted strawberry bookmark

I invented a small project to break up the monotony of the scarf.

I’ve made four of these little bookmarks so far.

It's a sunny Sunday here and I must go and bake a cake (apple and pecan), go gold panning down at the river with a bunch of 8 year olds and their families and then race to an orchestra concert (with the cake as my donation for afternoon tea).

Enjoy your Sunday.

7 September 2007

Flashback Friday: inaugural entry

Me & Mum 1966

Me and Mum, 1966. Passport photo to emigrate to Australia. From the olden days when children travelled on the mother's passport. (Do I look terrified?!)

Looking at this picture tonight as I uploaded it, I realised my mother was 34 when this shot was taken. A good few years younger than I am today.

And it gave me the same feeling I had when Son #1 started school and I became A Mum at the School Gate.

1 September 2007

tipsy brain spill


Don’t have a thing to say except:

• I got the essay in and the taxes too but only after two nights that stretched into the wee small hours;
Tut-tut sent me a dishcloth just because! and isn’t it beautiful and isn’t she wonderfully generous?;
• Am knitting a scarf for Mr Soup for Fathers’ Day. Fathers’ Day is tomorrow. Looks like the scarf will be wrapped up still on the needles, and snatched back the minute he’s opened it;
• Popped into the yet-to-be-renovated Greensborough Plaza (can’t wait! A pet library! Knitting group! Wallpaper!) to get my watch fixed and favourite necklace clasp repaired;
• Nicked into an op shop during a spare ten minutes (was getting withdrawal symptoms) and scored a stack of books and an old lady bottle green, box pleated wool skirt, just below knee length. Wore it to work on Friday over a long straight brown wool skirt. Felt bohemian. Or something. Why do Marks and Spencers clothes feature a label saying St Michaels? This is one of the great mysteries of my life, along with understanding Facebook (why, why?), organised religion, Twitter (see Facebook), GM foods and maintaining tension while crocheting;
• I am going to be working for a few hours at the most beautiful shop in the southern hemisphere for the next couple of weeks and am greatly looking forward to fondling and sniffing the delicious yarns and hand-dyed felts;
• Started The Last Witchfinder a few days ago, left it in the car and couldn’t be bothered retrieving it on the one night this week that I managed to head to bed with a cup of tea and a good book at 8.30pm, so grabbed Running With Scissors from the op shop stack. Read a chapter, fell asleep. Do I persevere?
• My cooking obsession appears to be over. Completely. Can’t get interested;
• The Soup menfolk, along with a ring-in, have set off tonight to meet approximately five other blokes of varying ages to indulge in some male bonding at the first Melbourne Victory homegame of the season, leaving me and the dog all alone to get squiffy and watch Parky. Son #1 is wearing his fingerless gloves and everyone in the party under the age of 14 is sporting a Muscateers tattoo on their right cheek. Son #3’s slipped during the application process and his reads "Muscatee" before disappearing into the corner of his mouth. I asked him how the r and s tasted. ("Inky").
• The knitted Shrek sperm on Flickr has now been viewed 221 238 308! times, making it my Most Viewed Photograph, while the blog is receiving some dodgy visitors via Google searches far too icky to repeat here.

Seems I did have quite a bit to say.

Told you I was squiffy.