RSS

Author Archives: Felicity from Down Under

About Felicity from Down Under

musician, knitter and sewist

seasonal woes – and colour

Vibrant colour from the callistemon in the front garden

The theme for this year’s Girls’ Night In, the annual Cancer Council fundraiser organised by a former colleague, was Wedding Party. I reckoned I could mange that, hand on heart and no trouble at all, simply by grabbing something from the wardrobe. What I wore to Eldest Son’s wedding, a very long time ago, fitted the theme: the jacket is glittery and glamorous and – most importantly, given the present chilly evening temperatures – it has long sleeves. I declared myself to be the Mother-in-Law from hell, stating that, “None of those women is worthy of my son!” It’s never a very serious business, although the underlying cause is dear to all of us. And the food is always like the guests: fabulous.

That was Saturday. On Sunday, the menfolk were out on motorbikes, making the most of the unexpectedly summery weather. I had an appointment on the other side of town, not far from my long-ago workplace that burnt down after I’d finished there. No satnav assistance required and a pleasant day to be out and about.

And then, you know, the weather having finally – we thought – turned warm, it (re)turned (to being) cold with torrential downpours and allergen levels that saw YoungB suffering hay fever like you wouldn’t believe. But the tree is up in Vic Square, the pageant happens tomorrow and my email inbox is all but overflowing with seasonal offers of discount gin (among other things) and enticing specials on thises and thatses.

My email inbox also receives occasional family history gems. Recently, receiving a couple of historic photos dating from 1917 saw me diving into all sorts of online records to find additional information. I also dived into my hardback family history volume to cross-check dates. While I was about it, I updated the electronic version of my family tree to reflect the results of my researches. It’s satisfying to be able to do that diving without having to worry too much about what else might or might not be getting done while I’m so engrossed; or wondering whether I should call it quits so I can be compos mentis for the office tomorrow. No need 🙂

And meanwhile, the seasons are rolling. I hope yours is being agreeable, wherever in the world you are.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 11, 2022 in Family history, Health

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

deep gratitude

Leisure enough to observe and enjoy the mesembryanthemum

After a busy weekend – plus lots of laundry, of course – I was less than bright and bubbly come Monday morning. It was fabulous to know that I could either roll over and go back to sleep if I wanted to, or simply take a few extra minutes then grab my coffee after everyone else had finished. Some sort of mix generally has more appeal and I don’t wand to miss out every morning on having coffee with the menfolk.

The days are sunnier and warmer (I say optimistically, though we’re also enduring low temperatures and torrential rain – but the ground isn’t as chilly as it has been and the daylight hours are definitely longer). The airborne nasties are making their presence felt and pollen levels are now indicated on the official weather site. Our noses are sufficiently sensitive to know that antihistamine ingestion would not be out of place. Sneezing inside a full-face motorbike helmet is yukky and dangerous. That happened to YoungB a few years ago and, as much all of us laughed when he told us, there’s no doubt it’s best avoided.

I can head out to long lunches or afternoon tea dates with friends and other family members, and casually spend the afternoon walking around a new housing development before hopping on a train to come home. All during working hours. And I can have late nights on the weekend after social outings that I was able to accept very last minute, because I don’t have to worry about being at my best the following morning for work.

I’ve resigned my union membership, which feels rather strange after so many years of solidarity. Without that ongoing financial commitment, I can take out a subscription to an e-book platform. I know that some of the lighthearted titles I have on my – lengthy! – book recommendation list won’t be available through the local library and I wouldn’t buy them myself as p-books. Some platforms have certain titles available free with a monthly subscription, making that cheaper than buying and therefore a cost-effective option. I just have to remember not to stay up all night reading, simply because I know that I don’t have to be up early next day. It’s probably not good for my blood pressure.

I have yet to start any Christmas crafting. The pageant is looming and, although I’m not there to see it from the office window, I’m sure the tree is going up in Vic Square. Another year is drawing to a close. We’ve had highs and lows and the pandemic is not over, but we’re all still here. I’m grateful for that, too.

And, you know, sunshine or storm – some days both! – we’re warm and secure.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

officially not retrenched

Last photographic update: lots of concrete

So we rolled through September and reached the long weekend that celebrates Labour Day and, you know, here I am, busily retired (for real; not the way I thought I was a redundancy or two ago). This is the last ‘view from the window’ update. Progress was more obvious during the demolition phase.

Not at the office, I’m trying to walk daily at an hour when I can see where I’m going (as long as it’s not raining or blowing a gale). I’m steadily chipping away at reducing the volume of incoming emails by unsubscribing from professional organisations and removing duplicates that have crept in over the years (when email addresses change, not all earlier variants die, although the technology sometimes does). I’m gleefully signing up to workshops that take place during working hours (genealogical research, here I come, rubbing my hands and sharpening my pencil).

So, yes, it’s all baby steps as YoungB would doubtless describe it. But the good part? If I’ve had enough, I don’t have to keep going 🙂

I hope you’re in a similarly positive frame of mind, whatever your employment status.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 14, 2022 in Family history, Health

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

tantalising teaser

Sunshine helps the agapanthus flourish

It’s amazing what a few days of sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures will do for overall wellbeing. It’s also helpful with reducing the “have to wash” laundry backlog. Of course, the “have to put away” laundry backlog has increased commensurately. I note only that, while I remain a finite energy machine, I appreciate the glimpse, the promise, of the hot summer days that are surely just around the corner.

On a day that was sufficiently sunny and almost-warm, YoungB hopped on his treadley for his daily commute. He wanted to trial a different route and to put the new – to him – end-of-trip facilities to the test, but he might have been less keen had there been a torrential downpour or killer winds.

He reported that the facilities are infinitely better than those in the previous job, which didn’t have any, and on a par with those available in other parts of the precinct. Not unexpectedly, like most places with large workforces, the shift-based honour system for lockers isn’t always as honourable as you might hope.

Bike storage and showers are secure, but getting a locker? Not going to happen. YoungB half-joked that he’d be prepared to perpetuate the injustice if he were ever fortunate enough to find an open locker. In general, however, lack of a locker won’t deter him from riding his bike more frequently once the weather is more consistently agreeable.

In the meantime, the wind and rain remind us that spring is only just here, and it’s foolish to expect much nice weather this early in the season. Taking that into consideration, and rather than having to battle the elements as well as the lack of locker, YoungB is happy to use public transport.

The sunshine will return. I hope you’re getting some sunshine, too.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

the big guns spoke

Only a couple of special design features 🙂

With COVID-19 numbers dropping nationwide, the order came from On High: “Back to the office with you!” Happily for my continuing sanity and overall family wellbeing, I won’t be. The previously agreed timetable will remain in force for a few more weeks. We may renegotiate the last few days.

YoungB started a new job today. It’s city based and one where the end-of-trip facilities are so good that they feature in the orientation video. That means he’ll be back on his treadley once the first week is over. He’s looking forward to that with great enthusiasm.

In preparation for the forthcoming silly season, YoungB has also been participating in another lot of Latin-American dance classes. Whether from work or from the class, he reckons he’ll be home again before it’s too depressing outside. The evenings are lighter and the mornings are certainly light enough to see where you’re walking. Not warm, mind you! But less dangerous simply because of the improved visibility.

And I have – finally – finished and delivered the little knitted baby beanie I’ve been slugging away at since what feels like forever. It was one of those things where I’d knit a bit, then I’d knit a bit more, and although it should have been growing, it really didn’t seem to be making much progress at all. YoungB kindly reminded me that the longer I took to make it, the better chance there was that it would no longer fit the intended recipient. Fair point!

As you can see from the photo, the beanie is a simple mistake-rib design. The colour is probably brighter IRL, but difficult to photograph well. Bendigo Woollen Mills Baby Meadow 4-ply, 100% Fine Australian Merino Wool in shade Golden Sands. I used 3.25mm (UK 10 / US 3) and 2.75mm (UK 12 / US 2) Aero knitting needles that I have had for many years.

I’m now having a bit of a rest. I hope you are, too 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 5, 2022 in Health, Knitting

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

checking the view again

Lots of work that I haven’t been there to supervise 😀

We’re being told that the COVID-19 case numbers are dropping; and overall, that does appear to be true. In any case, in the spirit of cooperation and pretending to care, I was at the office one day last week. The work? Yeah, nah, it’s reporting time and busy and, you know, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to muster the energy for any of it. Enthusiasm vanished long ago.

But the view from the window? Aha. That was almost worth the trip into town. I will miss my 13th-floor viewing platform. Since the last update, there’s a lot more to see in that snapshot of the current status of the GPO Renovation. Obviously, they can manage quite well without me!

In terms of managing (or not), it was also a week of colliding responsibilities that nearly defeated me. I tried to shoulder my workload at the office while not dropping the one I have outside of work. That ended with me thinking I’d have to retire NOW and leave the team to the rest of whatever I haven’t been able to tidy up. While that is appealing at one level, it’s not how I would choose to leave any workplace.

Unexpectedly, we had a win on the home front with some long-term appointments confirmed and slotted in. As a result, I’ve negotiated that I’ll continue full-time WFH until I retire, with two days off every week to accommodate the juggling. I’ll take other days off as required. It might not be ideal, but it will mean that everyone is in with a chance of success and – fnigres corsesd, and equally as importantly – that nobody falls over in the meantime.

I hope your juggling is also meeting with success, whatever its nature. 🙂

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

green and growing, thank you

Flourishing after being rescued from a building site

It’s winter. It’s cold and miserable. I thought that YoungB showed a fair amount of dedication the other day when he headed out to catch up with friends. In this weather, if it had been me? I might have coughed down the phone and pleaded potential contagion!

No, really, I probably wouldn’t have done that. I’m pleased to be WFH at present, however busy we are and as flaky as the technology occasionally proves, because the notion of standing around at cold, wet, windy bus stops is as unappealing as ever. Besides, my brolly might blow inside out.

Not being in the CBD means that I am, of course, completely out of the loop with What’s Happening to the GPO Renovations! But I can provide a little garden update: the geraniums I rescued from a local building site continue to flourish. Well, I never.

Whatever your weather is doing, I hope that you, too, have something cheerful and flourishing to ponder.

 

Tags: , , , ,

left this world – and squares

Unnamed artists’ contributions

We were at a funeral where my voice singing some of Dr B’s work was emanating from the speakers. Only we three would have known that, as there was no mention of performers on the memorial card and, although a home audience, it wasn’t one familiar with my voice or Dr B’s work.

I muttered to the Bs that it’s becoming a habit to hear myself at funerals. Yeah. You might wonder if it’s simply that we’ve arrived at the right demographic. I think it’s more that we’re always willing to contribute in acknowledging other creative people, particularly when they’re long-time friends with whom we share – or have shared – creative histories.

Only we three knew how astonishingly special that recording was: one of Dr B’s more experimental works that exists only in his computer, his phone, and now in this version as part of funeral music for our mate. As well as having composed it, Dr B is singing. YoungB is singing, I’m singing, another well-known friend is singing, and the mate we were celebrating was also singing. His was the voice that everybody knew, and the others were relegated to backing vocals. We thought that was the best send-off we could give him and felt that we’d truly played our part(s).

Then it was time to come home and donate to the charity-blanket collection. YoungB drove me to the drop-off point, and I left my squares at the door, in a box already brimming with enough others for a cheery, sizeable rug. It’s not quite from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it’s certainly a different section of the creative continuum; and all the creatives involved in the blanket will also be forever anonymous while being forever immortalised 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2022 in Knitting, Singing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

leave your squares at the door

I’ll drop them off tomorrow

The call for squares went out via one of my knitting groups. They needed to be as near as possible to 15cm x 15cm, using 8-ply acrylic; and whether they were knitted or crocheted wasn’t important. Someone would then take all those squares and make them into a blanket, which in turn would be presented to a nearby hospital. No colour or pattern specification required, just whatever you had on hand that would cheer someone in need of comfort.

I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to use up some stash yarn that met those descriptions and was never going to be quite right with anything else, so I cast on using 4.00mm needles. That was about when Life in general started to go off the rails, so I simply point out that, even as a child, when I was the most beginner of knitters, I have probably never tinked a garter-stitch item quite so many times! Of course, I had expert assistance to hand in those days, in the shape of my mother and aunts; nowadays, I’m my own expert assistance most of the time, and I obviously have my limits.

I’d also point out that the cheap acrylic yarn – whose ball-bands are long lost to history, so I’m unable to provide details – knitted up well and kept coming up well after the sixth or seventh tink. The stitch definition was still good, and – despite being reknitted and reknitted a bit more and reknitted again because that didn’t work – it didn’t go fluffy. Sturdy stuff, as I think the photo illustrates, and probably ideal for the sort of action it’s likely to see.

My original thought was that I could knit half a dozen such squares and, in normal circumstances, I probably could. Yeah. I’ve finished two. They will have to do. I remind myself that, if everyone visiting the pick-up point donated two squares, there’d be a carton of blankets already. I hope the two I’ve made will fit in with others. They’re simple, but they meet the criteria. And I hope their bright cheeriness will help to lift someone’s spirits at a time of distress.

I hope you have some cheer to wrap around you, too, particularly if you’re somewhere chilly 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 27, 2022 in Health, Knitting

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2021 temperature blanket stats

A good-sized throw for his futon lounge or topper for the double bed

I wanted this to be a post with all the details for what is a toasty warm addition to the family now that temperatures have definitely dropped. However, life happens; and the latest happening has derailed things significantly. So, you know, if I give you a general idea, that might have to do. Complete, accurate details would require me to weigh the remaining yarn, then calculate how much of some colours made it into the blanket. I can tell you now, that’s not happening.

For colours and temperature range represented by each, see broad discussion here and below table for details.

Any changes to the original plan were mostly “Let’s not do that” things, dictated by unexpected health setbacks that necessitated a frank and fearless consideration of what could be left out so that YoungB would get his blanket at all (much like this post, actually). There is no “essence of QR code” square, for example. Although I’d planned a double border so that I could incorporate his name and the year, that didn’t happen either. It would have been too time-consuming. I may embroider the year on one of the neutral squares. Then again, I may not.

It was my design, but influenced by the need for solid squares and something that would quickly be square from a circular centre, so that the CJAYG method wouldn’t give me headaches (see discussion). I had assistance with colour choices from both Dr B and YoungB. I’m not sure we got it right in a couple of cases, but, hey, we’re the ones telling the story 🙂

Temperature range ˚CYarn colour (BWM Classic 8 ply) (bought)
≤ 2.9610 – Indian blue: 25g (1 ball)
3.0 – 7.9600 – periwinkle: 200g (1 ball)
8.0 – 12.9777 – powder blue: 200g (3 balls)
13.0 – 17.9745 – pale eucalypt: 300g (3 balls)
18.0 – 22.9695 – guava: 200g (2 balls)
23.0 – 27.9612 – viridian: 350g (3 balls)
28.0 – 32.9769 – marigold: 200g (1 ball)
33.0 – 37.9767 – burnt orange: 50g (1 ball)
38.0 – 42.9608 – holly: 25g (1 ball)
≥ 43.0779 – bright magenta: 50g (1 ball)
Year- and month-end (and CJAYG)694 – maize: 1000g (6 balls)
Planned to include602 – almond: 0g (1 ball)
BORDER DETAILS

Worked in linen/moss stitch,
alternating directions for the 17 rounds of changing colours.

All viridian rounds of linen/moss stitch
worked in same direction.

Final viridian round of htr worked in opposite direction.
marigold – 1 tidying round of (UK) dc
marigold – 2 pattern rounds
periwinkle – 1 pattern round
guava – 4 pattern rounds
pale eucalypt – 2 pattern rounds
powder blue – 1 pattern round
magenta – 3 pattern rounds
burnt orange – 2 pattern rounds
Indian blue – 1 pattern round
viridian – 5 pattern rounds
viridian – finishing round of (UK) htr
Cost of yarn purchased
(24 x 200g balls @ $13.50)
$324.00
Cost of yarn usedNot calculated, but probably around $250.00
Hours of work> 400
Yarn orders1 Jan 2021 – 8 balls = $108.00
1 each of: maize, pale eucalypt, almond, powder blue, Indian blue, viridian, burnt orange, bright magenta
9 Feb 2021 – 4 balls = $54.00
1 each of periwinkle, guava, marigold, holly
29 May 2021 – 2 balls = $27.00
2 balls of maize
13 Oct 2021 – 10 balls = $135.00
3 of maize
2 each of viridian, pale eucalypt, powder blue
1 of guava
Entirely unused at completion: 200g almond, 200g pale eucalypt and leftovers, 200g powder blue and leftovers; about 200g of viridian; and quite a lot of the holly, which wasn’t used in the border.
Temperatures represented by colour range; and yarn usage

I chose hook sizes to ensure that the completed blanket was “not too holey”. I’d usually use a 4.00mm hook for 8-ply yarn. I used a 3.50mm hook for the centre and middle rows, to provide that requested firm, not-too-holey fabric. I used a 4.00mm hook for the joining round, which gave overall better drape on the entire blanket, and made it easier for me to do the joins, but – again – met the “not too holey” requirement.

I went back to the 3.50mm hook for the linen stitch border, again so that the fabric would be firm, and to prevent rippling; or at least keep that to a minimum. Working rounds in alternating directions also helped to minimise rippling. I worked most of the viridian rounds in the same direction, as that was easier for keeping joins tidy. It was also easier to see what I was doing.

The parts that were fairly dull and boring were all those damn winter squares. Just like the weather! Although generally there are remarkably few special design features, I know a few crept in through those cooler colours. I was tired and not always counting as well as I should have been. I rescued most, and even I would be hard put to find the few that remain.

I got great value out of the mantra that CJAYG and tidying ends as you go allow: when it’s done, it’s finished. There are no ends to sew in, other than the one you’ve just snipped for the border.

As noted above, there were several unexpected derailments because of equally unexpected ill health. All in all, it’s a fine testament to a great deal of dedication and devotion, and an astonishing degree of crafting monogamy. I made one other crocheted project – a small wind spinner – and didn’t bother to have any knitting on the go At. All. Yes, I’m surprised, too.

In sum: did it turn out as well as I’d hoped? Yes, and perhaps better than I’d imagined. Would I make another such thing? Probably not! Would I used the yarn again? Of course. Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8-ply remains one of my favourite yarns, particularly valuable for being machine washable.

I now have a long list of beanies for babies and toddlers, and perhaps a little blanket or two and some adult beanies, and a few acrylic squares that I’ll donate for someone else to turn into a charity blanket at a nearby hospital, not to mention an unexpected adult beanie to replace one that sidled from one head to another as a loan and then, well, stayed on the new head! That seems to happen quite frequently with beanies.

I hope your crafting is keeping you warm and cosy if you’re in a chilly part of the world. 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 16, 2022 in Crochet

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,