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Category Archives: Motorcycling

an even bigger sideways wallop

Addio, Maurizio; your final ride was on a road something like this.

Addio, Maurizio; your final ride was on a road something like this but on the other side of the world.

On Thursday morning we woke to devastating news from Italy: one of the cousins had been killed in a motorbike accident. Yet again, plans for future meetings and shared learning went out the window. We’ve been a bit of a mess ever since.

Yesterday, however, YoungB and his fellow-student girlfriend, Dr B and I spent a delightful day: exhibition, lunch at one of YoungB’s favourite and highly-recommended burger joints, coffee at a chain we probably have – or should have – shares in by now, then a short reception prior to the local premiere of an Italian-Australian film (happily, set in Dr B’s part of northern Italy), showing at a nearby cinema and part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2016. After the film, a Q and A session with the director and her producer husband (information here), and a chat with YoungB’s Italian professor who was also in the audience, it was dinner time. We trundled across the road for that, then hiked back to the car. We had coffee and cakes at a same but different locale (Glynde) before finally coming home some eight hours after setting out.

We were all physically tired but somewhat restored in spirit, even if poor YoungB’s feet were hurting after the amount of standing and walking he’d done in totally inappropriate shoes. End-of-season sales saw that situation remedied this morning, so he went off to watch soccer while Dr B and I pottered about at home: he in the garden, I in the laundry. Oh, the thrill of it all 🙂

But the burning question I’m asking myself is, can I knock up a dress before Thursday’s AGM? I’m tired of winter, tired of being cold, fed up with wearing trousers and not that fond of the idea of a skirt. A dress? There’s potential in the idea. You know me, it’s unlikely to happen. But it makes me feel a little less inadequate to have it as a sort of non-plan when my knitting doesn’t make sense to me because every time I pick it up to do any, there are interruptions. Never mind. We’re alive and well and aren’t we lucky to have that?

 
 

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toobs and tubes

YoungB [thought he’d] lost his original toob. I said I’d make him another. He promptly came up with a couple of eminently reasonable suggestions for modifications. For example, he asked, would it be possible to make it so that half was double thickness and half single thickness, meaning he could simply turn it around in the really, really cold weather for extra protection and warmth on his nose? Sure, I said. I even offered to make the second layer in a different colour so it would be immediately obvious to him which bit was the thicker half. The original toob has since turned up, hidden under several others and a jacket or two, on the back of Dr B’s chair. We don’t think it was done maliciously; we know very well that Dr B has a habit of assuming that anything at all likely looking is his! I think I’m probably off the hook for immediate purposes with the toob, though it would be interesting to see if I can come up with something like the one YoungB is after. I’ll update on that if and when it happens.

Tubes? Not good for me if they’re skirts. I never did look terribly good in pencil skirts, which have a tendency to slide around because I have the wrong shape to keep them in place; and I’ve been stung before trying to make a “simple” tube skirt. The differential between my waist and my hip is too great for any of those simple solutions to produce a respectably wearable result. Out comes the old Justknits pattern #96867 and a bit of tinkering takes place. But still, you know, I’ve had a lot of years to accept that a tube skirt is not my best friend. All the same, with winter well and truly knocking on the door – I say that at a time where the week’s outdoor temperatures have been in the mid-20s; most unseasonable indeed for late May – I’m sure I’ll be able to come to terms with any less than happy outcomes of shape if it means having a warm skirt that I can wear at home and/or abroad (in the sense of ‘out of the house’). Then it’s just a matter of finding time and being dedicated and all that. I’ve got as far as cutting out and pinning a new, winter skirt. Getting around to sewing it? Yeah, not so much.

But I did manage to thread my new machine and fill a bobbin. Do you reckon that counts as progress?

 
 

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the unemployment-go-round and just in case

Some days I sit and trawl the job sites – between waiting for emails to tell me if I have any incoming assignments for the transcription I do from home; which pays little but sometimes takes an inordinate amount of time! – and wonder why I’m bothering. They might not say it in so many words because the legislation forbids it, but many are very obviously looking for some young, silly female, preferably blonde with big hooters, who’s too young and silly to complain about the potentially sexist attitudes already on display. Other days I stumble across things for which I’m well qualified and I send off another application (electronically, in the majority of cases). Most of them disappear into the aether and I have no way of knowing if they ever reach their target audience. Very rarely you get an automatic response, which is at least a bit heartening.

Today I happened upon another in the latter category (as well as a couple in the first) and went through the same routine. This one, as it turned out, sent back an automatic response. So I wondered if this time it might be sufficiently a possibility that I should really make myself a blouse for work? Just in case? You know, I did make the reSewlution at Karen’s behest that I was going to do just that. I later put my hand up to ask if I could change it to using that lovely rayon to make a decent blouse, because with no job to go to, what incentive was there to make anything to wear to it? But a decent blouse is always useful and I don’t have many.

Allowing for the very dim lighting, you'll see there's a distinct vertical (or horizontal) look about this, so I'll need to be careful with placement.

Allowing for the very dim lighting, you’ll see there’s a distinct vertical (or horizontal) look about this, so I’ll need to be careful with placement.

In between helping Dr B with some motorbike tinkering and attending to today’s laundry and doing all that boring domestica, I tracked down the fabric and the pattern I intend to use and put it somewhere near the top of my work pile. I’ve patched YoungB’s jeans and darned them (all by hand, if you don’t mind; the skinny legs meant I couldn’t get the hole under my presser foot, even with the tubular bed freed up) so that he has a spare pair to take with him when he’s interstate rowing next week, and I’ve even done a spot of repair work on the zipper tab of a motorcycle boot for him. Do you reckon it’s my turn now? Should I do myself a favour and make a new blouse? It would be useful and it would cheer me enormously to succeed at something!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Motorcycling, Musing, Rowing, Sewing

 

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and then there are the babies

You know how I had a sort of rough idea of what I might be going to knit and sew this year? And then it got tossed on its head almost immediately? Well, I now have to factor in some not entirely unexpected but still unplanned-for baby knitting; at the moment, I’m looking for something quick! Baby blankets made in thick yarn will be the answer, I suspect. I’ve spent some time on Ravelry looking for pretty, simple patterns and found many. I have a number of patterns among my collection already but most are lacy, some are complex and I think all of them are large, so perhaps not necessarily the best option for something that might be used as a pram rug (though, yes, most could be scaled down). Why a pram rug and not a blanket as such?

YoungB had a fantastic pram rug that had been knitted for him by Great Aunt J. It was blue, yellow, grey, pale green and white – sounds awful, but wasn’t – and looked a bit like a Mondrian painting: modern with block colours and some unexpected combinations. It was gorgeous. Of course, it clashed terribly with his bright orange lambswool (though it was fine with the neutral one), but that didn’t really matter. It kept him warm in his car seat and in the pram and it was light enough to pack into a bag and take along wherever we went even minus the pram. Given that background, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve picked out some 12-ply yarns to make a couple of similar items. My usual baby gift is bunny rugs and I’ll probably sew a couple of those as well (flannelette comes in such pretty designs and colours as to be almost irresistible). None of it is going to be difficult, I promise you.

When I picked out that lot of yarn, there was only one announcement. Now there’s another, so I can see that there’ll be a further trip to my LYS in the near future. Oh, isn’t that going to be a hardship!

I still have Nonna’s cardigan to finish and despite the thick yarn and large needles, it’s not growing quickly. However, other plans, such as sewing new toobs for motorcycling use, have made progress. The other day, I whipped up a new scarf for Nonna. Ahem. You know, I cut a length of black polar fleece and stitched on a nametag. I didn’t even bother with hems. I mean, it’s polar fleece. It’s not going to fray, is it?! (If it looks tatty when it comes home for a wash, I’ll attend to such niceties then.) That used up a large chunk of the black fabric, so I promptly made a toob from the remaining bit. It’s sewn and nearly finished but I seem to have run out of the wide elastic. I really cannot imagine how that happened but, oh, well, that’ll be something else I’ll need to get when I’m out shopping, won’t it?

And I was told, gently but in no uncertain terms, that motorcyclists wouldn’t wear a white toob. Red might be acceptable but, really, dark blue and black are the options of choice. So why wasn’t that said to me before? I’d have stopped looking for the remnant of white polar fleece and just got on with making toobs from what remained of the black. Blokes. They just don’t listen.

But, you know, with all this stuff I have on my list, well, gosh, I might have to give up looking for a job for a few minutes so I can attend to those other duties. That would be a shame, I don’t think. It’s certainly one of life’s less appealing undertakings, isn’t it? But I’ve sent out another application and haven’t yet lost heart. I’m just pushing on with knitting while I commute to various appointments and the like.

Sorry, I could not find a suitable photo to accompany this post. A black toob? Boring as. YoungB’s original pram rug? Yes, that would have been ideal; but could I find one??? No. Better just post this and get on with the knitting, don’t you think?

 

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this whole creative thing

It’s possibly weird, and probably because the things others regard as creative I regard as just part of everyday life, but when I think about my own creativity, it extends to what I do musically and not at all to the sewing, knitting, crochet and the like.

The music? I take a song and make it my own. The words and the notes provide direction but the interpretation is mine. I think about it even when I’m not actively singing. I plan how I should best approach certain technical aspects and ponder what story the words are telling and, therefore, how they should be delivered to impart maximum impact.

The knitting? I’m just following a pattern to make something that looks like what the picture says it should. I don’t necessarily consider that clever. Maybe if I were a more adventurous knitter, I’d have a different view of things but, you know, what I knit is easy stuff and pretty yarn does a lot of the work. Mostly, there’s a need for something and I have the skills to make the something to meet that need. It’s usually the case that someone else has already done the hard work of nutting out the pattern. And that some other knitter could follow that pattern and come up with a very similar result.

The sewing, specifically making clothes? I arrive at having something functional and necessary that possibly – even probably – fits better than RTW and is better made (I don’t, however, make many clothes because, frankly, I don’t see the need for a new dress each day of the week; and I wear my clothes for a long, long time). I understand about the cleverness some people bring to their sewing, cleverness that is decidedly creative, but I simply don’t sew enough and certainly not enough clothes.

A very old, very well cared for and much worn guernsey that's almost as good as new. You don't need a new jumper every day!

A very old, very well cared for and much worn guernsey that’s almost as good as new. You don’t need a new jumper every day!

I make lots of lavender bags and simple things like shopping totes and bandannas and toobs for cyclists but they’re neither terribly clever nor at all spectacular and, in many cases, not truly my invention. Someone else came up with the idea for a toob, for example. I merely re-created something similar when necessity dictated because YoungB was fed up with having a cold face and something that got dragged down his face each time he put his helmet on. You might call that an improvement, I suppose, but the basic idea wasn’t mine.

I have a book that describes making pyramid-shaped juggling balls for kids (to stave off boredom during holidays) and I saw some dashing pyramid-shaped paperweights (filled with rice, I think the seller told me). I’d spent a lot of years making little, ravioli-shaped lavender bags, completely handsewn and extraordinarily time consuming, so I was looking for something simpler and faster. I merely adapted those two similar ideas to come up with my pyramid lavender bags (look on Etsy and you’ll see that plenty of folk make pyramid lavender bags). Original? Hardly; though perhaps the mix in mine is one nobody else uses. Creative? Not to my mind.

Is it all about the mystique that nowadays attaches to these once mundane tasks? Time was, and it really wasn’t that long ago, when every woman and quite a few men did these sorts of things as a matter of course and necessity. It is probably true that there have always been some who took it to better levels – tidier stitch definition, neater seams, precision finishing – but it wasn’t anything exceptional and/or special. My Dad used mattress stitch to mend everything; not always neat but always effective! My Mum, who’d been taught by her own mother who was a tailoress, had the right stitch for each mending job: always tidy, even when she apostrophised it as “cobbled together”. She would often add in such cases that, “A blind man would be glad to see it.” Quite so.

Time was, we were a more musically literate society, too. I grew up in a family where everyone sang, everyone had piano lessons and it wasn’t at all weird to gather for a sing-song. I’m of an age and system where the recorder was standard issue at school (or fife if you went public system, like Youngest Aunt; a much trickier instrument altogether) or perhaps there was even a school band where you could have a good time blowing your own trumpet (or possibly trombone, if your arms were long enough). I’m not necessarily suggesting we have to bring back that era or those values or that older system. But when I grew up and everyone knitted and sewed and a lot of people played piano and sang, to bring excellence to the music was special. You had to have something extra to do that.

Maybe that’s what I mean when I say music is where the creativity is, because there were many fine, skilled pianists and singers, too; but only some of them made you sit up and listen and really pay attention to their performance. By and large, the other things – the sewing, knitting and crochet – don’t grab your attention as anything out of the ordinary. They’re part of life and that’s about it. And if they do, then perhaps they’ve gone past that utilitarian stage to being something beyond. Perhaps then they truly are creations.

And perhaps you should now go and read Karen’s post!

 

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FO: Elicia scarf

That lattice yarn? Yeah, sure does knit up quickly! A six-foot scarf in a few days? I’m impressed! IRL it’s slightly darker but the colour contrast within the skein is nowhere near as stark as what’s depicted on the ball band and I like the more subtle result.

What a lot of pink gorgeousness

What a lot of pink gorgeousness

The yarn is Lincraft’s Elicia Ruffle Yarn, a lovely bit of 100% acrylic that was out for half price recently. Well, I’d been itching to attempt using it and what better reason could there be than a colleague’s birthday AND a reduction in price?

I used size 9/3.75 mm needles, because they were handy and I like using them. The ball band instructions recommend 5.5 mm needles but add that needle size does not affect end result. To state the obvious here, the finished size will depend on how many stitches you cast on and how much of the yarn you use. If you follow the instructions on the inside of the ball band and cast on five stitches then knit to nearly the end of the skein, you’ll end up with a scarf that’s about 8 cm wide and 230 cm long. That’s what I did.

Dr B and YoungB think it’s a bit weird and I know they’re both hoping that, having got that out of my system, I’ll now get back to the serious business of making some more polar fleece toobs for them to use while motorcycling. The sewing table being somewhat clearer because that large piece of knitting is no longer there, I’m probably going to find that a much easier undertaking.

 

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still knitting

My workplace is presently a bit strange because everyone is restless (not only those who are going but also those who are staying). So I try not to focus too much on what’s happening there, despite knowing that I have a lot of work coming my way as a result of that situation.

As ever, in order to retain my sanity, I’m still knitting. Honest, I am. I’m still knitting the Easy Lace Cowl because I decided to make it deeper (yes, I made progress on that during the week while commuting). I’m still knitting Eldest Niece’s mittens (yes, I have done a couple more rows of that second one but haven’t yet picked up for the thumb). I’m still knitting the latest hat (halfway through a shaping row and wondering if the cables are going to be lost in the colours). And I’m still knitting the lattice scarf (wow, that’s an amazingly quick knit but best not attempted when so tired you can’t keep your eyes open and definitely something where you do not want to drop a stitch).

I’m also still knitting that Noro Silk Garden scarf that I started for Eldest Son’s 40th-birthday present. You might recall it morphed into something more sober and serious that my menfolk assured me he might actually wear (I don’t know if he does) but I didn’t unpick what I’d already done. I rolled it up and put it away in one of my many calico shopping bags. I picked it up for my travel knitting on Sunday, wanting something gratifying but not requiring huge amounts of concentration – I needed to be able to identify sheep and crops and participate in conversation, you know – and being a straightforward 1×1 rib, it was ideal for the purpose.

So I’m still knitting quite a lot. I’m just not finishing anything.

And now I have an emergency sewing project: some more toobs, please, because one is lost and the weather is getting too chilly to be without such a thing. OK, I’ve tracked down the black polar fleece, must be close to locating the white and am clearing the sewing table. Back soon!

 

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