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Category Archives: Musing

multiskilled just isn’t the right description

YoungB signed our work, because all of us had more than a hand in it 🙂

Once upon a time, Dr B and I built our own house (and yes, I do mean with our own hands). Back in those days, he and I poured a concrete tank-stand and some paths. Recently we’ve concreted more paths, one of which now boasts a tank on a stand without necessarily being the tank-stand.

The path behind YoungB’s cabin, seconded to use supporting a tank-stand.

We’ve also ventured into laying pavers, greatly assisted by a variety of online resources. My personal observation is that, when your little fingertips are very sore from laying down little brickies, you do NOT want to pick up any sewing. This is, however, gratifying in a different way.

They wanted to finish the cabin’s courtyard before we went out for my birthday 🙂

And when I say I did some paving, it’s quite true. My input was to the path connecting that cabin courtyard to the garden shed.

Going with the flow around the curve and lots of fussy cutting (Dr B did that part).

Back to getting on with something else now. Winter is here, and I’m craving the feeling of working on a beanie. Plenty of those in my UFO pile 🙂

Whatever you’ve been up to, I hope it’s been as gratifying – if, perhaps, less labour-intensive – than my recent efforts.

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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Knitting, Musing

 

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comfort of a sort

You know that feeling when you’ve lurched to the last working day of the year and what you haven’t done is not done but you can’t dredge up sufficient energy to care? That happened to me halfway through December. In my previous job, the obligatory holiday during the Christmas shut-down could vary greatly, so I mostly made mine long to enable me to cope with all the family, cycling and rowing events that clustered round that part of summer. It wasn’t the sort of job where the work you hadn’t  finished would be waiting when you returned. Jobs didn’t hang around or hang over for that long. You might find yourself typing later sittings of the same matter, but it would have moved on.

In my present job, almost everything I hadn’t done was awaiting me when I returned, plus a few extras I hadn’t anticipated. That’s a distinct deterrent to taking long breaks, because it means that the return workload is crushing and you need a good life-jacket. But I had a holiday, anyway, during which I managed to tidy my sewing room somewhat.

2017 will be challenging. The sector is changing and in order to survive and flourish, organisations have to not only change but come up with new ideas for growth. I feel remarkably inadequate in that scenario. I’m still reasonably good at thinking on my feet, and quickly, but I have no business background at all. This is, I suspect, a shorthand way of saying that I need to enrol in some suitable units at a local TAFE, or within an undergraduate degree, if I’m to have any hope of not going under. My problem is that I don’t know what I need because it’s difficult to intuit what shape the future changes will take with regard to my job. I often feel now as if I’m close to drowning because of the workload, so perhaps I need to invest in a better life-jacket because that feeling is unlikely to lessen.

As near to drowning as I might be, something I do know is that I’ll need to knit and sew more, or I’ll be too grumpy for words. I also know that I’m going to have to do a l-o-t of work to get my photo app to talk to my blog. Lots to work on this year, and not a resolution in sight! All the best with all of your plans, resolutions or just general intentions for this year’s crafting. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in Knitting, Musing, Sewing

 

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reminder to self… and because it’s been such a rugged year

There would be a photo. But I’m still learning my way around the new technology, which is a huge leap from my previous computer.

Today I attended a workshop about resilience in the workplace. Given the volatility of the sector, it’s a necessary attribute for anyone who works in it. Turns out I’m already quite resilient, but occasionally a reminder is a good thing.

In the spirit of continuing the work begun at the workshop, I’m trying to remember to be grateful: today it’s for sunshine and gumtrees, public transport that gets me where I want to go without too much drama, and a workplace where I feel not only valued as a worker but also as a human being.

They’ll help me bounce back tomorrow. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Musing

 

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nothing happening here

Late-afternoon iris, bringing promise of Spring 🙂

It looks as if Spring has been busy and finally reached the garden.

As far as the humans are concerned, Dr B is in composer mode, something YoungB doesn’t really remember from past occurrences. This means that life is chaotic beyond belief. I’m out of the house most of the day – working, not having a good time or sleeping till midday or anything enjoyable like that – and when I get home, I’m lucky if Dr B has removed his dressing gown since I left!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Musing

 

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a big, post-election grumble about a lot of what I see

No grumbles with this pattern, which is progressing nicely

No grumbles with this pattern, which is progressing nicely

I sat down to write one post and seem to have written two! Please ignore whichever half bores you 😉

The thing about trawling the web and looking at lots of posts on sewing is that so much of what I see strikes me a bit like Arthur Dent‘s house: it precisely fails to please the eye. I can see that the cut is lovely, or the colour is, or that it’s beautifully made but sometimes? Sometimes the proportion is all wrong or the colour doesn’t suit the person wearing it and the cut isn’t flattering on the figure of the wearer. The bodice of a drop-waisted skirt is too long or perhaps it’s the skirt that’s too short (or possibly long), though the overall length is fine, but together? It just doesn’t work. That is to say, even allowing for the fact that IRL when it’s moving rather than static it might look better, it just doesn’t work to my eye.

There are patterns about which the online sewing community seems to go into raptures and, although I can find individual things to like about each of the iterations I come across, it leaves me cold. Most of the Colette patterns are in that category – and because plainly designed for a body shape that mine has never been and is now unlikely to achieve, I don’t buy Colette patterns – which is a bit sad because I like the idea of supporting Indie designers rather than the Big Companies. The passion for Tilly‘s Coco was a bit similar; it didn’t ring my bells. And that’s OK. We’re not all the same.

With regard to the clothing, I accept that I’m in no position to criticise, because I myself don’t really make much; some might say I don’t make anything at all and that’s perhaps near enough to the truth. But it’s like singing: just as I can still hear whether that’s good or bad and give you very concise and informed reasons why it’s one or the other, though I do so little of it myself nowadays, I can tell you why those patterns don’t work. That doesn’t mean other people will have the same opinion.

Overall, however, it serves to reinforce the notion that anyone who wants to make their own clothing really needs to be able to draft a pattern and/or be able to make drastic alterations to a pre-existing one. That’s quite an ask in an age where these things are not taught at school. I was fortunate enough to learn pattern-drafting at primary school. My suspicion is that the more any person who sews uses a prefabricated pattern from anywhere – Big Company or Indie designer – the more the realisation grows that, no, it’s not going to cut it to keep doing this. You have to draft your own.

While I’m on a roll, something else that gets up my nose big time is the modern penchant for squashing breasts to flatness. I genuinely appreciate the need for comfort and support, I get the bit about not wanting to bounce around too much and I certainly understand the value of a minimising bra; but one that leaves you looking like some weird sort of chook gone wrong? Uuh, yeah, maybe not. It’s not flattering, it makes the clothes hang badly and, in some cases, is decidedly part of why the clothes don’t look particularly flattering. They’re being beaten at their own game by over-eager corsetry. I don’t have a problem with what’s occasionally described as industrial-strength undergarments so long as they don’t make the body shape they’re assisting into something that no longer resembles a normal, female body. (For tonight’s homework, define normal.) Yeah. I’m feeling cranky.

I admit it: that crankiness has been exacerbated by post-election ennui and the still-in-doubt election result.

On Saturday, I spent hours standing out in the cold, handing out how-to-vote cards. Talk about wondering about a lot of what you see! There were people who turned up beautifully dressed and brightened the day, others who’d obviously come straight from work or sporting events, youngsters being shepherded along by anxious parents afraid of looking right or left lest thoughts be contaminated by a leaflet not to their liking, many grumpy people whose expressions said louder than words that they didn’t appreciate having to vote or what a privilege it is to have that right, those who complained about how far they were forced to travel as if that were something we poor volunteers could magically mend, and many who laughed along with the silly jokes we were making as we handed out leaflets for the umpteenth time.

I occasionally regretted that there is no Socialist Alliance in my electorate, I say with tongue in cheek, because reactions would have been hilarious had I been handing out something with that logo. I certainly don’t look the type to be a rabid Left-winger 🙂 You’re fair game, whatever you’re doing, so you need to be thick-skinned. Luckily, I am. I was reprimanded for my not-at-all-radical views by one older man, who told me I should be ashamed of myself because I was old enough to know what I was doing. It’s not part of the patter, but the queue had stalled at that stage. I drew myself up to my full height – which is not great, but greater than his – and shot back that I certainly am old enough to know what I’m doing, and that’s why I do it. I had a little discussion with another, younger, bloke in the queue about hung parliaments and his view that voting for anything but a major party would result in chaos, despite the fact that many such governments exist worldwide and function well. One chap walked past all the leaflets, muttering as he did so that they’re all bloody criminals (he may have a point; it made me laugh). Another wanted to vote for Pauline Hanson. I reassured him that this isn’t her electorate, nor was there a One Nation candidate. I didn’t suggest he ought to move to Queensland, because I thought it was likely he wouldn’t know where that is.

Silliness aside, I was truly astounded – and not in a good way – by the number of people who seemed to have been caught unawares by the election. We’d just come to the end of one of the longest campaigns in many a year and still they seemed startled by it all. Entirely too many plainly hadn’t given any thought to how they would vote. I don’t expect everyone to do what we do – spreadsheets; I’ve said before that’s how we roll – but I wasn’t surprised that several of my colleagues had worked it all out before election day and taken their print-outs with them. A vote is too valuable to waste.

YoungB was doing his bit at a different polling booth – one with a sausage sizzle, I add with some resignation and a great deal of jealousy; there wasn’t one at mine – and he had some entertaining tales, too. He is a very charming young man and learnt early that if you’re polite to people, generally they will respond in like manner. He reported that he had made eye contact and cheerfully, but very politely, handed out his how-to-vote card. The old trick worked, even though some of them, he thought, would rather have responded with a mouthful of vitriol. Dr B was at a different booth – also sans sausage sizzle – and had a good time, doing two two-hour stints so that he could duck up to see Nonna and give her lunch in the interim. I closed my booth, and YoungB came to help me take down the last of the posters that I simply couldn’t reach. We swapped tales of our day when we arrived home, then he and Dr B went off to the party to watch the tally. I was too tired, too cold and too far behind with domestic chores, so I watched at home while I attended to laundry and the like.

Yesterday the boys went for a motorbike ride, to blow away the cobwebs and reconnect with something other than endless spreadsheets comparing political parties and their policies. We’ve voted, made our choice known, and done it unmolested in a democracy where we can be reasonably assured that our votes weren’t tampered with or ignored. We are in a dreadful, and dreadfully ugly, mess, but we remain extremely fortunate. And the queues about which I heard endless complaints on Saturday? At my booth, they extended to the gate and meant the wait was half an hour to perhaps 40 minutes (at most). It wasn’t days. We were out in the open, but we weren’t there for long.

My personal fitness guru, as YoungB has appointed himself, thought that, while they were out motorcycling, I should do a 10 Km training walk in order to be ready for the Bloody Long Walk at the end of next month. That would take me two hours. But I thought that if I didn’t bring in the laundry, we’d have no clothes for the rest of the week. More pressingly, I was convinced that if I didn’t knit some more of his beanie he wouldn’t have it for next weekend. He’ll certainly need it, because he and I will be visiting friends in a cold part of the world. There, I’ll have good reason to be grumpy; except that the warmth of the friendships will ward off the worst of the chills.

So, yeah. I’ve said my piece about practically everything, I think! Back to the knitting now. I’m pleased to report that it is going well, and I’ve taken the plunge and done some of these cables without using a cable needle. The reason why is probably another grumble, but I think I’ve been cranky enough. Pax 🙂

 
 

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1, 2, skip a few, 99

Dan's 65th birthday

This is probably the last family photo I have. It’s nice to see all of us being silly 🙂

Dear Mum, Youngest Aunt and I arrived at the answer by different methods – neither straightforward; you know we’re like that with arithmetic – but we agreed that, had you been still alive, this June we would have celebrated your 99th birthday.

You died well short of reaching that, and more than half our lives have been lived without you: without your smile and your wonderful baking (I occasionally get a real craving for one of those tasty, hearty egg-and-bacon pies with the light-as-air pastry, or the fabulous melt-in-your-mouth shortbread), your razor-sharp memory for sometimes obscure poetry, the weekly chinwag as to tricky questions in the Crossquiz (as it was then) and whether we’d reached excellence with the Target word, and the high-scoring Scrabble games, not to mention the occasional hand of whisky poker played for the killingly extravagant stakes of one- and two-cent pieces (legal tender in those days).

Yes, we’ve missed you, but you’ve missed so much, too: the family’s travels, the weddings, the grandchildren you’d been hoping for, all the accolades and awards across the years, and let’s not forget the music. You’ve missed a lot of singing and music-making at family get-togethers and Christmases. Middle Aunt and I still dust off our piano duets at Christmas, in what has become something of a ritual.

But you’re never truly far from any of us. For me, I see you in YoungB’s smile that’s so much like yours. I thought of you often when he was a rower, because the high school you once attended has a rowing program nowadays and our marquees were frequently alongside each other. You’re probably raising your eyebrows, wondering why I don’t mention that I see you when I look in the mirror, or every time Middle Aunt and I sit together at parties and confuse people who don’t know us well. Yes that’s true, and we laugh about it.

I see your work and evidence of your organisational abilities in the Lunchbox recipe book I use all the time. And I wish I could ask you about the everyday recipes you whipped up that I cannot remember (and that aren’t in the Lunchbox). I’m sure you knew how much I hated raisin biscuits. They were marginally nicer than the spice biscuits, both of which you baked far too frequently, as far as I was concerned; but you wouldn’t believe how often I’ve tried to find a recipe for raisin biscuits. I’ve proved they’re not fruit jumbles. That’s all I’ll say.

As well as that, I have your sewing machine (I think I can truly claim it as mine by now, but it was yours before it was mine). I have many of your knitting needles and and patterns. And I can knit, thanks to your teaching me (although I acknowledge that the Great Aunts helped). I still use my first-ever knitting needles. Although I can’t knit as quickly as you, nor do I have the same easy rhythm – and ditto those comments with regard to the Great Aunts, too – it’s true that most of the time I get there.

I’ve learnt that there’s much truth in your wisdoms that a blind man would be pleased to see it, that any small improvement renders the situation better than it was, and that if you’re out there doing it then you’re streets ahead of someone sitting at home. I often remind myself about the Devil and the tailor, shorten my thread accordingly and then squint at the needle just the way you did. I chastise myself for using sewing needles that would double as crowbars (your term again). But, heck, how are you meant to thread anything with a smaller eye?

We do these things. Life goes on. I repeat your words, which were probably those of your own mother, and so it continues down the generations. Every now and again, we add up the numbers. And this year we reached 99.

 

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the difference between men and women

Recently, I lost my iron in the sewing room. It was so lost that – and I hesitate to admit this openly – I had to ask Dr B to come and help me look for it. Imagine! It was a salutary lesson, though. I was looking for the object. He was looking for ends of power cords. I wasn’t the one who found the iron.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2016 in Musing