Monthly Archives: April 2012

still sobbing into my pillow

Between laundering and other usual household tasks, I’ve been reading Pyjama Party blogs. And oh, boo hoo. Our camera woes continue. Even Dr B isn’t immune from problems today. He’s having to use the little Sony digital, the one that’s been dropped too many times and no longer has a flash. You can imagine it’s not ideal for photography in the late evening, even with strong lighting. Therefore, I think I’d better just take a deep breath and admit that, unfortunately, I’ll have to keep sobbing. You have no idea how damp my pillow is already!

Boy has been delighted by his PJ trousers, though, which is nice. I think he’d forgotten what great things they are. I used to make them when he was little – I’ve already discussed the various wonderful fabrics from which I had made him PJ bottoms – and he loved them. Then he went through a phase of not wanting them because they tangle up. Yes, I understand that. But last night he was cold, so despite the tangle factor he actually wore the new PJ bottoms to bed. Yeah: flannelette PJ bottoms with fluffy Explorer socks, the epitome of elegance.

Dr B and Boy have been doing eco weekend stuff today, cleaning up the last of the willow tree (small bits this time, not logs). This time it was actually eco weekend. Last time? No. Dr B had mixed up the dates. Plus, as he discovered when they arrived at the closed dump, his logs were too big. He and Boy brought them home again and unloaded them onto a spot beside the footpath. I knocked up a sign that said “Free” and stuck it atop the lot. They went, quite rapidly. That was a good way of doing things: people looking for firewood were able to get some without paying the seven arms and forty-three legs that seem to be required these days, and we got rid of the sawn wood. Today, two trailer loads of twigs went off to the mulcher.

This afternoon I met Middle Aunt at a cafe about half an hour from here though it’s a little further from her place. It was nice, though, a cafe in a garden centre. We discussed the itinerary for her family’s forthcoming trip to Continental Europe and Ireland while we drank coffee and ate cake, then I handed over the curtains, the two knitted beanies and the crocheted Moebius cowl. By happy coincidence, the beanie I’d made for Middle Aunt matched her lovely quilted gilet almost perfectly. How good was that?

Middle Aunt liked my scarf, which I decided needed another outing (and because I wanted something to smarten up my clobber). I intend to experiment with some other fabric that I bought specifically to make scarves, to see if I can make a long scarf without being quite so extravagant with the fabric. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. I wear scarves a lot, always have, and even light fabric provides a little extra warmth when needed. I hang them on a piece of string on the back of my wardrobe door. No, that’s not true; it’s actually a piece of ribbon.

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Crochet, Sewing


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rowing pyjamas?

No, they’re not and there’s no such thing that I know of but we have just come home from a rowing function and Boy got straight into his pyjamas as soon as we had unloaded a couple of bags. I asked if he’d let me photograph him wearing them so I could be part of Karen’s Pyjama Party Sewalong reveal. He’s an obliging sort of chap, so he put them on and said they felt like 70s flares because they’re wide-legged. They’re actually straight-legged, not a flare in sight, but he’s accustomed to skinnier styles. He was also wearing the trial sweatshirt I made for him and you could just about get away with calling it a match with the PJ bottoms as they’re both green and although not the same green, the tonality is similar. I took a photo, just one.

The camera card is now full – we’re not sure why; I was fairly sure I’d erased images after the last upload but they’re all still there, plus photos from tonight’s rowing presentations – but I managed just one image of Boy almost in the frame. Almost! It doesn’t matter whether he’s in it or not, really, because we can’t presently find a way to upload images directly from the camera. This is a hangover from the computer problems of earlier this year; there are still occasions where things don’t work and can’t be made to without much inconvenience to everyone.

On the whole, we’d prefer to avoid the inconvenience to others element, so I won’t be pressing for too much action on the photo front just yet awhile. It’s a pity I can’t party with everyone else but that’s the way things turn out. Pillow fights? I think I’ll sob into mine. I have a few comments to make about sewing the PJ bottoms, mostly relating to frustrations with elastic, but perhaps I’ll leave those until I’m able to post a photo. The crotch seam turned out very well, I’m pleased to report. I think I should at least mention that. And that I’m presently rereading Legends of Australian Fantasy edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan.

Still in sewing mode: I couldn’t go to our final rowing presentation dinner without appropriately coloured attire. I didn’t have a dress or skirt that would have been comfy and warm so I grabbed trousers, a slinky little sleeveless t-shirt top and a jacket. They were all right as far as colour was concerned, but they were all the same colour and we do have the choice of black and white and grey, or just black and white if we can’t do much else. I decided that a scarf would be a good way to add a bit of colour. I didn’t have one, so I made one. In my stash I had a large piece of fabric I’d probably intended to use for a top. Some might argue that its background colour is not really white but rather cream. The flowers and stripes are black. In the dim light of the function centre, it was black-and-white enough to be obvious that I was aiming in the right direction.

I folded my fabric so that it was on the diagonal then cut across, eyeballing everything, so that I ended up with a truncated triangle. Yeah, really scientific and accurate. Not. (And probably quite wasteful of fabric, though I’ll make lavender bags out of the leftovers.) Actually, it was surprisingly reasonable in terms of size. Sure, one end is a little wider than the other, but it’s not so much larger that it looks ridiculous; and that might be related to sewing inaccuracy as much as cutting inaccuracy because I didn’t pin anything, just sat the machine and stitched. The fabric slid somewhat, so although I tried to keep the seam the same width, it probably isn’t; and although I held the cut edges, I’m sure that in one or two spots the cut edges don’t align precisely.

I sewed across one angled end, along the shorter side, turned another corner and sewed across the other angled end, leaving a gap to turn the scarf through. It turned through a treat, so I then top stitched the side and ends and left the unsewn side, well, unsewn. The longer side is about 82 inches, the shorter about 70 inches and the width around 5.5 inches. You know what? The lads think it’s very nice. You know what else? It is.


Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Rowing, Sewing


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hot pink and pizza

Relax, the pizza was fairly ordinary. But the weather is cool enough that frail, elderly Nonna needed some extra layers of warmth. Dr B lent her his scarf, but I had a better solution: the hot-pink crocheted cowl/neck-warmer that I whipped up a few weeks ago with some leftover yarn. She loves it!

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Crochet



healthy body shape

It turns out, according to the physiotherapist whom I saw this afternoon, that I have a healthy body shape. In my case, that’s just fat all over. Yes, there’s too much of it but it’s actually healthier than if I had skinny legs and a fat tummy. The even distribution of avoirdupois has its good points, it would seem. Or rather, no points at all, just all soft curves.

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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Health, Musing


the usual dilemma

If anybody reading this is of a particularly patriotic bent, be warned that this might offend. I say, also, that this is not the lengthy essay it could be, merely an off-the-cuff blog post written at the end of a long, long day. Pax.

As I’ve said before, Anzac Day is one of those nationally significant days that causes great strife in our house. We have tried to maintain Boy’s neutrality in the face of knowing that, during WWI, Dr B’s forbears were trying to snot the hell out of each other while some of mine were probably trying to snot the hell out of both of them. You can’t buy into the patriotic propaganda when there’s never any acknowledgment of the fact that Dr B’s forbears were probably within their rights, one perhaps more than the other, and that mine were definitely in the wrong. My lot were invaders in anybody’s language. Do we ever hear that in the speeches? No.

Please don’t think that I’m suggesting that we shouldn’t honour the fallen. They did what they believed to be the right thing and far too many of them paid far too great a price. We know that. We do acknowledge that. But we find it hard to get teary about Laurence Binyon‘s For the Fallen, from which is recited a verse every Anzac Day and every Remembrance Day. For starters, Binyon was English. He had a right to rave about how wonderful England was and what glory there might be (dubious, in my opinion) in dying for her. We’re more inclined to side with Zora Cross:

England! […]
I cannot love her pomp on land and sea
Her boastful Saxon ways,
Her bloody challenge to posterity,
Her pride of other days.

There’s plenty of anger in Cross’s long poem, Elegy on an Australian Schoolboy from which the above is a short extract. She wrote it to honour the memory of her younger brother who paid that ultimate price in WWI. It’s not that we necessarily hate England and the English (many of my forbears were English, after all; that would be foolish). They don’t tell us what we should celebrate or commemorate.

What makes us super sniffy is that amid all the rhetoric there is often mention of fighting and dying “for our freedom” or to “defend our country”. We only did that in Sydney Harbour and in Darwin. I’m prepared to stretch a point to concede that our presence in New Guinea was also probably more defensive than invasive. But most of the time, we were invading other countries. Sure, let’s honour our fallen but let’s keep it in perspective. We were an invading force. Tragically, we deserved to be snotted.

In the spirit, therefore, of acknowledging Anzac Day and those Aussies and Kiwis who have fallen while being the biggest bully on the block, or at least its mightiest sidekick, I can’t go along with Binyon’s ode. I choose to post from John Le Gay Brereton‘s Anzac these lines that it is easy to read as an acknowledgment of the wrongs we inflicted on our foes:

Yet here I stand and bow my head
To those whom other banners led,
Because within their hearts the clang
Of Freedom’s summoning trumpets rang.

Yes, let’s honour them all. We tried to take away their freedom. Let’s acknowledge, too, all the other invaders we’ve treated as pariahs upon their return: Dr B’s generation saw the Vietnam War inflict its long damage. We remember that, too. And we remember that, yet again, our government sent our military personnel to invade another country. Lest we forget, indeed.

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Musing


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why there’ll be no sewing, knitting or crocheting tonight

By way of clarification for those who don’t know, Wednesday, 25 April is Anzac Day, which is a national holiday in Australia. Boy has invited a gaggle of his mates around for a Tuesday-at-midnight cinema session then a sleepover. Yeah, right. The amount of work required to get bedding organised (they’ll bring sleeping bags at my suggestion), bikes stashed somewhere out of sight and safe, and furniture moved around in order to accommodate the mattresses on the floor means that there’ll be no work of any other sort tonight.


Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Musing



reflecting on mortality

Things are greatly at sixes and sevens here – more like elevens and thirteens, really, neither divisible by anything but itself and unity – and they’ll probably continue to be so for some while. Today we had what may well be the last family lunch we’ll ever have where Nonno and Eldest Aunt are both with us. That’s a very sad and sober sort of thought but Nonno is not in good health and Eldest Aunt lives interstate.

We took photos of course – thank heavens for teenagers who are willing to set up photos because I still haven’t mastered the auto timer setting on any of our digital cameras; I’m still in analogue mode – and they’re okay considering the circumstances. Boy appreciates why we do it. He has had the experience of seeing Great Aunt through her last days and being at Great Uncle’s funeral as well as those of some younger cousins and friends. He is not entirely unaccustomed to dealing with death.

Dr B has lost other close relatives but always at a distance. His own Nonna died far away when he was a much younger man and, although he was shattered by her passing, some of that was due to the fact that he had had no opportunity to say goodbye. My parents and most of their generation on both sides of my family are long since buried. Some of those in my own generation have already been dead for a long while.

I have been through some of this but not in the way Dr B is experiencing it because I was younger and healthier and, in some cases, not there. I was far away, too, and didn’t have to deal with the everyday phone calls that are a last desperate affirmation of life.

We’re going to have some tough times this year.

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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Musing



Middle Aunt asked me to pick up some new curtains for Eldest Nephew. I didn’t have a car available to me so off I went on the bus, in the rain. I had to scramble around on the floor to find what she’d asked for, because with the sales nearing their end the selection was narrowing, but find them I did. We have now only to arrange the collection/exchange of the curtains, two knitted beanies and a crocheted Moebius cowl.


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yarning about yarn

I’m doing well with the beanie I’m making for Middle Aunt but it occurs to me that I’d be in strife if I were trying to crochet it. I’d have run out of yarn a long time ago.

In the absence of the Villawool Inca, I’m this time using Lincraft Australia‘s Phoebe yarn. It’s another product of China, being a 55% acrylic and 45% wool mix. In a 50 g ball there’s said to be an average of 33 metres of yarn. That might be so, but there are lots of knots in it. I’ve so far managed to catch them before knitting any into the beanie but the drama will arise if I now don’t have enough yarn to finish. I only bought three balls. Luckily, I have ways of dealing with a shortage of yarn. I can choose to do the decreasing slightly differently, omitting two rows. I can make a small turn-up or perhaps not have one at all.

You can tell I’ve done all this before, can’t you? Those capers, however, would have occurred when I was working with a yarn I hadn’t bought expressly for the purpose of making an Inca beanie and which might, not unreasonably, have needed stretching or cajoling at least a little to go the distance. This shouldn’t require such shenanigans. I think that if it had fewer flaws, I’d be fine with the three balls I purchased. Perhaps it’s a yarn I won’t buy again, though the article under construction is looking good.

Oh, and what about the blue beanie? Done. Looks good. Photos at some point in the not too distant future when the digital pix are entirely online again. I’ve had the opportunity of sharing a few pix in recent posts but I was celebrating too soon.

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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Knitting


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just stuff

Yesterday when I was wandering through a large department store – not even browsing but really just wandering – I found myself appalled, as usual, by the cost of things even at end-of-season 50% off sale prices. There are places where you can buy clothes as cheaply as you’d make them though the quality is questionable, but the clothes that would perhaps be worth buying are so far beyond our income that they might as well be solid platinum or something equally ridiculous.

I also found myself thinking that although it would be nice to have new clothes occasionally, and perhaps even necessary more frequently than I manage it, so long as we don’t include undies then I don’t presently need much but a new winter coat. It would be nice to have some new, thick socks, but I don’t need them. It would be nice to have a new sweatshirt (or even two) myself, but I don’t need them. I have socks, I have sweatshirts. That neither falls into the category of even remotely new is immaterial. They’re still all right. Why buy something new when I’m still wearing all the old stuff?

Boy is exempt from much of this attitude because he is still growing and needs to have clothes that fit in order to keep him warm. As teenage wardrobes go, his is reasonably modest; and people often given him clothes as birthday presents. He knows we can’t afford to be frivolous and, well, you know, he’s OK about not having a lot of things. When they no longer fit he’s still inclined to wear them, simply because he likes them. That’s endearing if not always a good look or as warm as might be required. And if he’s grown out of something rather than worn it out, then there’s always the charity bin across the road.

I read about, and hear about, people who have garage sales to clear their wardrobes. I suppose I’m terminally indolent, but I’m not sure I could be bothered. If I’ve loved and worn a garment and had pleasure out of wearing it, then I’m quite happy to put it in the charity bin so that some worthwhile cause can sell it and make a bit of money (to help feed the homeless) and some happy customer can buy it (cheaply) and give it a bit more love and wear and get pleasure from it. I know that garage sales can be a good way to earn a few bob and, given my frequent comments about how limited our income is, you’d probably reckon we should try it. Dunno

I think it’s a philosophical thing for us, because Dr B and I both feel that if we’ve had our worth out of something, then it’s greedy to want more. In the end, it’s just stuff.

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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Musing