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Category Archives: using up stash

essentially serving in viral times

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Easily laundered and adequate for providing some protection when out shopping

In the strangely altered world that Covid-19 sees descending upon us – perhaps too slowly here in Australia, in the sense that federal messages lack clarity with regard to what is and is not allowable – stress is plainly taking its toll. Many of my fellow workers are finding it difficult to focus. The differing loyalties of private citizen and public servant are tested on a daily basis. We watch the numbers unfold and we keep working.

I can report that, from my perspective, the world is much quieter without planes overhead and with a reduction in the number of the vehicles passing our front door. As public service is essential service, I am still commuting daily by public transport. There are fewer fellow commuters. We are probably not the regulation 1.5 metres apart, but at about one person per double seat, that might be the best we can do for now. Nobody coughs. Nobody sneezes. I’m sure nobody would dare!

YoungB is now established in his home office set-up and officially working from home (or WFH, as the current jargon has it). My office has trialled it for a small team. There’s an overall business contingency plan (BPC) that is encouraging us to set up now, so that we’re all ready to jump should the word come from on high. Which “on high” that is may come down to being a decision as to whether we eventually heed state or federal edicts. Whichever it is, it won’t be up to me. I’ll just do as I’m told.

I have made a couple of masks that are definitely not hospital grade, nor intended to be. It is true that, in earlier days, hospital masks were made of gauze fabric, and sufficiently effective to have been around for many years. Times change, and newer production technologies mean that more effective materials are now available for those running the highest risks.

However, like those earlier hospital masks, what ours do is provide some protection against droplets: protecting us from the droplets of others, and others from our droplets. For the small amount of time Dr B is out and about doing essentials, it’s enough for him. He meets criteria for two of the high-risk categories and is increasingly anxious about the casualness with which fellow citizens are behaving in our neighbourhood. He can’t do anything about their behaviour, only his own. This mask helps to give him some degree of comfort.

The fabric is a very old cotton from my inherited stash, lined with a softer cotton that’s a plain, dark colour. The pattern is something of a hack from many of the excellent tutorials out there in www land, particularly YouTube. Dr B has a large frame, which meant that I needed to get the size right. I’m not convinced I got the pleats right – perhaps I should have used the iron more judiciously – but the resulting mask is a comfortable fit. I needed to tweak the length of the elastic to ensure a close fit around his face, but that was all. Most tutorials recommend bag ties for the nose-grip, but I used pipe cleaner because that’s what I had. It works.

To our immense relief, all our Italian family members are safe at this time.

Wherever you are, I hope all your family members are safe, too.

Stay home. Wash your hands. And take care. 🙂

 

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yeah, orright

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Just about time to crank out the handknitted headgear, too 🙂

All things considered, it’s looking like time to reinstate the winter sheets. You what?! I  know. Sunday was warm to the point of being what some might consider hot – we reached the forecast maximum of 31 degrees – but the nights are cool enough, and YoungB’s cabin doesn’t retain heat as well as the house. He asked for warmer sheets. I’m on his side. The only delay might arise from the need to purchase new bedlinen for his new mattress (a larger, thicker one than its predecessor).

On the weekend, I was looking at wool over at my LYS. Only looking, honest (as well as checking their bedlinen; nothing suitable for YoungB’s bed, alas). Wool is something of which I need no more for years, but I like to check out what’s in vogue this season, even if I don’t purchase anything. I have a large enough stash to keep me going for a while and for the sorts of things I make, stash yarns are usually  more than adequate; unless someone requests something specific that requires yarn that either I don’t have or couldn’t substitute.

Further progress on squares for baby blankets? Yeah, no, not so much. YoungB and I had a night-time outing on Saturday, after what had been a busy working week for both of us. We caught up with Youngest Aunt and Uncle for a meal together at a nearby pub before heading off for what was actually the second part of Youngest Aunt’s birthday present:  a night-time walking tour of West Terrace Cemetery, with theatrical re-tellings of some of the more hair-raising tales. Adelaide is renowned for bizarre murders, so the selected stories didn’t disappoint..

The tours do run outside of Fringe and Festival times, but for us it was a Fringe gig. It was also a cemetery none of us had ever before visited, as we have no forbears buried there and YoungB – who did his high-schooling practically next door – didn’t visit it as part of any cultural excursion. It’s large, and would repay a visit during daylight hours, one of these days. My godfather is buried there with his family, so I could take a bunch of flowers for him to make it worthwhile.

I hope your weekend was more productive than mine, but I’m claiming cultural education as my reason. Could you really disagree with that? 🙂

 

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enabling or providential

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Sing me a rainbow! I hope you can read the colours, in case you want to order some, too 🙂

My mother was a great enabler. I well recall the day she came to me and mentioned, oh so casually, something along the lines of, “I’ve just been to the local second-hand shop and there’s a set of hardback Dickens novels there for $10.” She didn’t suggest I should buy them. But, as a uni literature student, it was pretty much a given that I would do so. And I did! I have them still, and they don’t look at all out of place with the variety of other books in my library shelves including a good selection of other Dickens titles.

How could I forget the time she encouraged me to buy a piano, accompanying duet stool and assorted sheet music, at auction? We had a piano at home, but I was about to head out into the world on a permanent basis and would need my own so, you know, it was not a silly suggestion and the instrument was in fair condition. We decided on my upper bidding limit, which was obviously dictated by my then financial resources. My limit turned out to be higher than that of my chief rival bidder, because the piano came home with me. Once tuned, it moved with me to various suburban locales and enabled me to put in a lot of hard work over many years before I sold it to a fellow student and bought a more serious instrument. Every now and then, I dust off some of the sheet music that formed part of that original auction item.

When it comes to yarn, however, I must say that Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM) do it every time! I receive one of their new shade cards and oh, the colours! Or, oh, the softness. Often, it’s oh, the colour and the softness. I’ve been looking around for cotton to crochet little blankets for a couple of new cousins. I generally trawl my LYS in the hope of finding something appropriate because I like to shop locally. The dilemma then is that, if I do find anything, although I’m keeping my spending local and can start straightaway, I’m generally buying overseas product. BWM takes a little more time, but it’s local enough to be a better environmental option at least with regard to its travel-related carbon footprint.

Luckily, time is on my side for these blankets, as they’re not required until next year. I will use up some stash yarn, but wanted a splash of brightness and my stash is largely on the sombre side. I haven’t seen anything in the LYS that could hope to rival the colours in the latest shade card from BWM. The two new colours are particularly appealing. So, you know, I might have to bend the plastic and crochet a few extra blankets while I’m at it, just in case there are to be any other new cousins.

May all your enablers have such providentially helpful timing 😀

 

 

 

 

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obviously random

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Not exciting. But a little rug to keep my knees warm at work. And for that, exciting indeed 🙂

If I’d put any thought into this, the variegated yarns would be distributed more evenly against the solids. As it is, and as you can see quite plainly, they’re not mixed at all. I had the variegated yarns on top of my scrap bag, ready for another project. The solids were below that. I simply started at the top and kept going.

So, yeah. Totally unplanned and uninteresting but finished and fit for purpose, namely keeping my knees warm at the office during freezing summer aircon temps. And potentially useful in winter, but probably not at the office where even I have been known – very occasionally – to remove a jacket because the aircon is too hot :/

Details of this project:

Pattern (something like this):

  • Chain 60 (or any even number of your choice; this is what I used for this small rug).
  • Commence first row in second chain from hook, working all UK half-treble (US half-double) crochet; so that you end up with an odd number of stitches to work the mesh pattern.
  • Work 3 chain at end of each row then turn.
  • All other rows 1 UK treble (US double), 1 chain, miss a stitch, repeat to end.
  • Work into the top of the treble/double in the row below (so that you end up with a mesh).
  • Repeat until desired length.
  • Last row, all UK half-treble (US half-double) crochet.
  • Tidy up your ends, thrown it in for a quick wash, hang it out in the sun to dry, and that’s it.

Yarn: a variety of synthetic 8-ply/UK-DK yarns from my scrap bag. All yarns held double. How much I used is tricky to calculate, but probably 200g of one colour and whatever I had of the others to a matching overall amount. I joined using a knot. Quite a bit of the yarn already had knots in it, so I decided to go with the flow. As far as possible, I crocheted ends in as I went.

Hook: Milford plastic 9mm/US13 hook (according to the information on it).

Time from start to finish: a couple of weeks.

Did it dent the stash? It must have, and I think I have now actually run out of 8-ply variegated yarn. There are still four-and-a-bit balls of the green yarn and there is a reasonable amount of the grey-blue.

Make it again? Yes, but perhaps a little larger. This suits me, but everyone else in the family is taller, so would need more coverage. It was a good TV-watching project because of the simple, repetitive pattern.

So, yeah. Back to the housework now. Dr B is out on a motorbike ride and YoungB has been away at the coast with friends. It’s a lovely laundry day!

No matter what you’re up to, I hope you’re enjoying sunshine and down time with your favourite craft 😉

 
 

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and is it really nearly midwinter already?

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Recent flurry of floral activity in the garden

I think we all know the answer to that.

Knitting progress? Not quit nil, but very slow. Crochet progress? Minus – that is to say, I’ve had to unpick the little I’ve managed. Sewing? Nil. Surviving? Yep, we’re managing that in the face of some serious setbacks. We might not be the creators we once were – I couldn’t tell you how long it is since any of us was involved in a live performance – but I think we could safely claim that we are survivors.

It hasn’t all been horrible. YoungB graduated. Yeah!! That’s not his afternoon ceremony, but one from the following morning. I thought you might like a glimpse of the lovely (nowhere near as old as you might think) hall in which Adelaide University graduations take place (as did Youngest Aunt’s in the late 1970s and Dr B’s in the early 1980s). Eldest Aunt (who graduated interstate) and Youngest Aunt attended the ceremony too, so we made plenty of noise when YoungB’s name was only slightly mispronounced – the small matter of a gender change with his middle name! – and he was presented with his two testamurs.

We had some time to kill between the end of the ceremony and our dinner booking. So we dodged downpours to consume coffee at the nearby Art Gallery cafe, then tramped up side streets to a trendy, inner-city bar with wondrous heating, for more refreshments. Youngest Uncle joined us at the celebratory dinner here, where our attentive waiter plied us with some spectacular wines. It was a long and tiring day, but a most worthwhile celebration. Well done, YoungB. That was a long half-decade, but you did it.

But it is true that matters medical, matters of family history, matters of world uproar and domestic repercussions, matters of friends and some of their woes have all tried to tip us off the planet this year. All the same, here we are. And in a delightful twist, a visiting cousin’s recent – joking – insistence on needing a splayd to eat his slice of orange-and-almond cake was met with provision of the requisite implement; a set of which had been a wedding gift from his parents. Impressive stuff. Right? Dr B was actually more impressed by the fact that I knew precisely where to go to locate the splayds. Plainly, there’s a great deal of chaos but it hasn’t yet overwhelmed us.

May your world still be wobbling on the usual orbit, and remember that fingernails don’t have to be talons to enable you to hang on. 😉

 

 

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then, before you can say Jack Robinson…

…or knife, or whatever your favourite similar expression might be, it’s February! OK, there are two days remaining in January, to be technical and pedantic. But they’ll be gone before – see above.

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This year already feels a bit as if that excavator has had a go at it! Photo taken late last century. Dr B on the left wearing that wondrous jumper I knitted for him 🙂

Life has been hectic and full of small and not-so-small sideswipes that seem hideously unfair in many instances but totally expected (in a bigger picture way) in others. Nonetheless, you can’t help muttering with a fair degree of frequency, “Things can only get better.”

You mutter that particularly frequently with regard to technology but, you know? So far, not so much. It’s nicknamed “Cayman Mal’s Fraudband” for good reason.

Yeah, it seems that 2018 is already shaping up to be another of those years.

That’s not to imply that we didn’t have an enjoyable festive break. It’s also not to imply that I’ve actually taken down the Christmas cards. We’ve had a hot week, then today is so cool that I’m reaching for a cardigan and thinking that summer is over. It’s not. We’ll have more hot weather, but the mornings are starting to draw in; something we’d notice even more were YoungB still rowing. We miss that for all sorts of reasons but the early mornings don’t feature among them!

I have a couple of sewing projects that I should be turning my mind to – that new summer nightie that I wrote about ages ago? Yeah, I never did get around to doing that! – and there are always rescue missions on old and well-loved garments. The trouble mostly is that they are, in fact, old. Then the question becomes, how many times can you mend a jacket? And even if you can, should you?

I have one RTW jacket that was in time-out towards the end of last year because I’d had enough of mending it. After 20-plus years of hard work, it owed me nothing. But it’s a good cut, the best in-between weight jacket I own, and I needed it for work. So I mended it. Again. Ideally, I should unpick it and use it as a template. I’m not sure I have the space for that, but it appeals to me as a good option for ending up with a jacket that I can wear for much of the year. And I could spice it up by lining it with guitar-playing skeletons, couldn’t I? (I have some fabric like that in my stash, honest.)

Then there’s the, “I feel a mitten-knitting orgy coming on” urge that often hits at this time of year (as ridiculous as that sounds when the mere thought of woollen yarn makes hands sweat). The attraction of the idea is that there’s still some daylight when I get home after work, so I’m much more likely to be able to see what I’m doing. That improves my chances of completing things, particularly darker items. So if I start now, whether on something new or one of the many WIPs, I might have something ready to go when those winter birthdays roll around.

Also, I need some crochet to work on while I’m watching TV. I don’t watch TV often but, when I do, I find it difficult to just sit there. I make too many mistakes if I try to knit at the same time but I can manage simple crochet. So I’m off to dig up another lot of stash yarn to do a knee rug to take to work. Oh, wait, didn’t I say that once before?! I promise to stop earlier with this one; or make separate granny squares so that it’s a better commuter project.

Whatever the status of your year, I hope it’s providing you with plenty of crafting opportunities.

 

 

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those rounds are getting longer

Dr B is surprised every time he sees me folding up my crochet project. I agree, it’s getting to be quite a size. It’s also becoming heavy, meaning it’s less ideal for working on now that the weather is warming up. I think there are about 60 rows. It’s worked in (mostly) 8-ply yarn on a 5 mm crochet hook. Smart people – that is, not me! – could probably work out an approximate size from that information.

Since this photo was taken, I’ve completed the second row of light blue, added another of dark blue, and am now doing some more teal rows. The end is probably nearing. I won’t use all my spare yarn, so I’ve decided that I could indeed work a semi-matching cushion cover (or bolster cover) to give any potential picnickers something to lean on.

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It looks at home as a picnic rug out on those re-laid pavers, doesn’t it?

 
 

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