Not the CWA

AND it was full strength

AND it was full strength

Seven patchwork cushion tops. Fun, but sometimes you need something to get you through.

Chocolate mug-cakes

They’re not cupcakes. They’re very definitely mugcakes. And they’re good. Thanks to angry chicken for sharing the link.

A study in concentration

A study in concentration

Cracking

Cracking

Entertainment for all the family

Entertainment for all the family

Mugcake

Mugcake
All gone

All gone

With thanks to Miss Tadpole for the first two photos.

WIP update

I realised at a ridiculous hour of the morning (while I was knitting without wearing my glasses because that helps me go back to sleep) that I hadn’t talked about any of the actual sewing and knitting stuff I’m doing at the moment. Plenty of patterns and op shop stuff (but wait, there’s more!) but not the actual making thereof.

I’m working on the trouser pattern. I went ahead after the muslin to make up the trousers in linen but somehow got them far too big. I’ve since unpicked, reworked the muslin a little bit and I’m about to recut the linen. In the middle of that, innercitygarden displayed commendable faith and accepted my offer of a how-to on trouser pattern drafting last Saturday. I definitely think going from muslin to wearing-around-the-house pants is a more productive trajectory than muslin to really-nice-Italian-linen-workpants. Still, they’ll turn out fine and I’m looking forward to wearing them by next weekend.

I discovered that I had a few more skeins of Elspeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in teal than I first thought. So I’m knitting this vintage top (scroll down to ‘lacy top’) with a slight different lace pattern. I’ve resized to fit, of course, but I’m going with the figure-hugging style. I reckon it should look okay with the linen trousers.

There was the tote as a present for a friend:

Chinese silk tote

Chinese silk tote

On the more mundane side, I’ve altered a skirt so that it no longer falls down (I’m picky like that) and I have a padded sleeve for a neck strap to finish. Master Tadpole is finding the alto sax and electric guitar heavy going on the neck so I’ve fashioned six layers of quilt batting covered by an old t-shirt formerly belonging to the tadpole. Velcro straps will make sure it can go from one instrument to the other. And by the way, he has completely appropriated my old music stand. I managed to defend it from the acquisitiveness of a professional muso for fifteen years and within three months of taking up an instrument, it now belongs a 9 yo rocker.

I’ll probably be able to rescue two non-finished trousers with my personal pattern which does increase the production output with remarkably little effort. Then I can move onto all those other things I want to make. Like 3 blouses, 2 dresses, 1 skirt, 3 hawaiian shirts (not for me), 6 t-shirts (the tadpoles), 2 skirts, 3 dresses, 2 shorts, 1 trouser (miss tadpole), 1 dress, 1 skirt (the little person in Sydney)…

I keep hearing this voice in my head.

“Tell her she’s dreamin'”.

Ode to joy

Soulemama asked what was making her readers joyous. I didn’t comment because, well, I couldn’t think of anything at the time. And if I were feeling joyous at the time, it was unlikely to be expressed in someone else’s comment box.

But I have my own blog, and I’m winding down after a friend’s birthday party, and feeling a little joyous, so I’m prepared to share now.

My bloke is a muso. Many of our friends are musos, professional or otherwise. I am able to play the flute but do so rarely  (ever saying that will change), and our Master Tadpole currently claims five instruments at the age of 9. I love the creativity of music, the spontaneity of the experienced muso who needs only to know two things: the name of the song and what key it’s in. And I love watching and listening to those I love make music.

Tonight was a good night for that.

Good friends, my bloke, and the children of good friends (good grief!) were there in a corner of the living room with lights, stands, amps, leads and foldback wedges. They were having a damn good time and so were we. P was letting rip on the keyboard, K was on the drums and smiling shyly (surely he can’t be that old because I remember dragging him back by the nappy as he tried to escape through the ring of amps and music stands), his sister M blowing up a storm on the sax (she toddled while he tried to escape), A and J cruisin’ and groovin’ like they’ve done for years, R standing on the side having a huge amount of fun on guitar and vocals and my bloke, standing at the back, head and shoulders above them all, grinning and rolling his eyes has he tries to keep ’em all together.

And Master Tadpole is standing out front, two feet or so in front of the general line of friends and family, listening. Really listening, and watching, and keeping time, utterly engrossed in the music. And finally I pick up Miss Tadpole, tired and patient, and dance while I hold her in my arms, far too big for that but still always and forever my little girl, weaving in and around the two crazy beautiful women I know also dancing, with so many standing and smiling and looking. And that’s joy. Creation flowing through and around us, with the love of family and friends. And that is joy.

Vintage love

The tray that formed the backdrop for all those patterns was quite a find at a large garage sale. It’s an art deco tray – simple marquetry and the signature lines of the handles and the combination of metal and wood. It was bought as part of a small lot of goods so it’s tricky figuring out how much we paid for it. Possibly as much as $1.

The woman who sold it to us commented that it was a really old tray, perhaps from the 1960s and 1950s. And this meant of course that it was worth less. That’s fine by me.

Marquetry with metal handles

Marquetry with metal handles

It will need some restoration – the varnish has crazed and is missing in some places. Overall though, it’s in remarkably good condition.

wood, metal and lines

wood, metal and lines

This other tray I bought in Geelong a few months ago. I suspect it’s from the 1940s and it has a more everyday look to it. It’s unvarnished with a layered wood trim around the edges. I can imagine this in a weatherboard home for afternoon tea on Saturdays. This was one was hugely expensive – about $30.

1940s, perhaps?

1940s, perhaps?

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

And a gratuitous flower shot:

Native orchid after rain

Native orchid after rain

Recent finds

Courtesy of 1 garage sale, Savers, Yooralla op shop in Elgin St (Carlton) and the other op shop across the road. It’s amazing how far $4 can go.

Some love from the 1970s

Some love from the 1970s

Raggedy Anne dresses, apparently

Raggedy Anne dresses, apparently

Tres chic for the under 10s

Tres chic for the under 10s

Are they dress ups?

Are they dress ups?

It may look safe on the cover...

It may look safe on the cover...

but the contents of “Beach Knits” are so horrendous they will soon have a post of their own.

Today’s pattern photos are the work of an emerging artist, Miss Tadpole. Fair* rates were paid for her work – a chocolate cupcake and a large glass of milk.

* As defined by socialist-minded 6 year olds with no concept of the contemporary art market.

Sock hubris

I posted a little while ago on sock mojo. I now have to post on sock hubris. These socks looks lovely:

Post-ripping

Post-ripping

but nearly drove me insane. I ripped the first sock a record five times – on two occasions, from above the heel! That exclamation mark is because I knit all of my socks from the toe up.

On the first two occasions I was guessing at foot size, even though I knew the shoe size of the recipient. On the third occasion, I stuffed up the pattern big time. On the fourth occasion, the heel just didn’t work. The fifth time I finally got the hint, looked up likely foot size, checked the gauge and ditched the original pattern. It was fine after that.

The yarn is a silky smooth bamboo and cotton blend from Crystal Palace yarns, bought from Yarnomat. The shell pink variegation worked beautifully at this size (women’s size 7) without any pooling. I chose the bamboo/cotton blend as a summer yarn because bamboo is said to work well in hot conditions – wicking away moisture and some anti-fungal properties. I’m not sure if the anti-fungal properties remain after all that processing, but the ability to wick moisture does. I’d thoroughly recommend this for summer socks.

Finally finished

Finally finished

Now that I’m over that trauma, I’ve started on the next pair of socks. These are much smaller and purple according to the request of the small Sydney person who will wear them. This time it’s Maizy from Crystal Palace, spun from corn fibre:

Purple haze

Purple haze

The pattern comes from my hand drawn notes on foot size with tweaking courtesy of the universal toe up sock calculator over at Knitty. The lacy rib is of my own devising which simply means that I was in the habit of lace and knew I needed a rib to ensure a good fit. I’m finding this yarn stiffer to work with and it has a decidedly ‘starchy’ feel to it. It slides well on aluminium needles but does drag considerably on bamboo. I’ll wash these before I send them on and see if the yarn softens.

And finally, I finished this little piece, a cropped jacket / bolero style from Phildar:

Miss Tadpole's bolero

Miss Tadpole's bolero

I adjusted the pattern to suit the beautiful skein of Malabrigo Worsted (‘Hollyhock’) I purchased in Montreal last year. While the style is intended as a summer top it will still work well in wool for spring and autumn. We often get rather chilly mornings so this will be just right for popping on and off as needed. And it’s Montessori in design – which simply means that miss tadpole can do it up herself and without grownup assistance.

As a complete aside, master tadpole has grown half a centimetre in about ten days. He’s probably got another 18cm to go until he’s as tall as I am. Given his rate of growth over the last twelve months, he’ll be there in another year and a half. Aged ELEVEN. It’s outrageous.

Sounds of Sunday morning

Just as I started to write this little follow-up piece on the gentle sounds of home and Sunday, the lassie tadpole started up the battery powered race track. Never let it be said that she doesn’t have a good sense of timing.

Anyway, as I was reading blogs and knitting, in the early morn (before 10am) I noticed just how different the sounds were. There was no crashing surf, no conversations in German or English, or the baleful sounds of cows in the next paddock. I was back home to many, many birds including a newly-resident family of king parrots. The occasional sounds of the lad tadpole back and forth in the kitchen look for something to eat; the lassie tadpole singing to herself; discussion between the tadpoles about a movie theme – she had the right key and melody but he pointed out that she need change the timing (I love those little conversations because I play the flute and prove the point that one can play that instrument without a singing voice or any decent sense of timing).

Because it is early morn I can’t hear my Bloke yet.

Post-camp musings

I’m still feeling stymied by my lack of photo editing and compression software combined with a stack of photos to share. I’ll put up a couple now but I am mindful of downloading large photos.

The camp / writing retreat was a rare and precious privilege. The ability to simply focus on one matter for a sustained period of time is gorgeous. Problems of understanding, interpretation and application have resolved themselves (at  least for the next few weeks!) and I even managed to write up an outline of my postdoc project. I have a clearer perspective on  managing my priorities and publishing schedule. It’s still a lot of work to do but knowing how to handle it and what my priorities need to be feels good.

The setting was beautiful even if the weather did not always cooperate. The beach is great – a surf beach that can get rather rough – but wide white sand, rock pools and lots of scope for walking and looking. Once I have my photo compression iss-ewes sorted I’ll put together a gallery for you.

By the way, the ‘race day flair’ wedding went well, as did my chosen outfit. A mauve silk dupion straight skirt with a kick-out flare and a 1936 butterfly wing blouse in a large floral print cotton voile, mostly butter yellow, oranges, some red, a little green and just a peek of mauve.

In the meantime, just a couple of shots for you.

Breaking waves

Breaking waves

The Schoolhouse

The Schoolhouse

Random pebbles

Random pebbles

Common Room and Fire Pit

Common Room and Fire Pit

Tip for the Melbourne Cup

A boxed trifecta with numbers 1 (Septimus), 5 (Nom de Jeu), 7 (Zipping) and 8 (Mad Rush).

The tadpoles are going for Mad Rush, Ice Chariot (it has nice colours apparently) and a couple of others I forget BECAUSE I’M OUT OF THE STATE FOR CUP DAY. A tapestry of justice if ever there was.

The youngest tadpole was warned away from the two horses whose colours included pink. Not necessarily because they had pink but because they were complete duds. I’m not sure how the oldest tadpole chose his horses. Last year he couldn’t go past Delta Blues and the other horse with a musical name. Both horses placed so he’s convinced I think of his superior punting ability. This year’s field was slim pickings for those who like to go by names. Nothing like ‘Just A Dash’ when my youngest brother was only three weeks old; ‘Vintage Crop’ the year Mum had a bumper crop of raspberries; ‘Rogan Josh’ the year the eldest tadpole was born; ‘Let’s Elope’ the year my Bloke and I were married; or ‘Brew’ after a couple of particularly good home brews for my Bloke.

So I’ll have to admit that my tips are based entirely on my interpretation of the form guide which may be reason enough to steer clear. Good luck: may your beer be cold, your sausage hot and your tip a winner.

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