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employment-go-round again

I’ll miss watching the progress – and the view 🙂

YoungB’s contract is at an an end, so he’s on the job-hunt. Again. The thing about our recent elections – both state and federal – is that the change of government (at both levels) means that there are opportunities aplenty in different fields, some of which he might find appealing. He’s had his resume professionally tarted up – I beg your pardon; updated – and it’s impressive.

Me? I’ve officially notified the Powers That Be the date on which I’ll be retiring later this year. Leadership at work seems surprised. I don’t know why! My age is no secret. I’ve clearly been suffering work-related aggravations to existing health problems ever since I started there. I’ve made absolutely no secret of my intentions. Why is it suddenly unexpected, and something they hadn’t foreseen? You know that emoji where you smack yourself? Yeah. That seemed about the right response; but I didn’t.

Someone who appreciates why retirement is a good idea asked me what I’m going to do – apart from all the obvious things like crochet and knit, of course – and I said I might cook. She thought that was a wonderful idea. So did I. I like cooking. I would have to shoo Dr B out of the kitchen – it is his domain, after all – but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me elbowing into his space if it means he has more time to do other things. I would bake, too. It would be gratifying to go back to making bread. That was one of my great pleasures that simply disappeared.

Dodgy back and leg notwithstanding, some routine exercise will also feature large. It’s most likely to be continuing the hydro-pool exercise classes that I presently attend. They’re generally kind in terms of both parts of the physique and, because it’s a therapy pool, the water is always wondrously warm. I would be free to join a book club. Or a gardening club. Or a photography group. Or all of the above!

I could once again suss out options for joining local choirs. This time, when they all respond with some version of, “We rehearse and perform during the day, during the week,” thus putting such delights entirely out of full-time worker contention, it wouldn’t matter. I’d have that availability.

I might by then have reached the top of the waiting list for eye surgery, and, postoperatively, be able to see better than ever – really ever, as I’ve been wearing specs pretty much all my life – and then I might be able to reinvigorate my sewing and make some inroads on all those projects that are presently too difficult. Oh, boy. And people wonder if I’ll have enough to do. Smack-yourself emoji again, I think.

Meanwhile, however, there’s a certain amount of excitement and tension around YoungB’s potential new job. There are choices in fields where he has qualifications and expertise, and there are choices in fields that would suit his outgoing personality. There are jobs with crossover. He’s already sent inquiries and job applications. It’s going to be an interesting few months, watching how everything turns out, but he is likely to have some much-needed downtime before starting in any new position, whatever the field.

During that downtime, I anticipate the mealtime conversation will centre on matters mechanical. I’ll be knitting in my room, if you’re looking for me 😀

 

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pattern-hacking

There’s probably some of this flannelette fabric still left in the stash 🙂

Has the rage for oversize hoodies reached your part of the world? YoungB and I have often talked about sewing up something similar – but very simple, with minimum shaping – using fabric already in stash. This is the sort of weather when discussions about such a thing as an oversize hoodie return to consideration. He has a onesie – long story! – but it has a few drawbacks and isn’t necessarily the sort of thing you’d want to be wearing for a Zoom call.

YoungB was cold this morning, and rightly so. The temperature was around zero and the wind chill made it feel several degrees colder. I hauled out a piece of polar fleece from deep within stash and suggested he use it as a giant wrap. He was happy to do so, because it kept him warm. At lunchtime, we once again discussed making it into a garment. I have plenty of flannelette also in stash, which we thought would be suitable as the second layer. I might have to piece it to get enough fabric to fit YoungB’s current size, but that wouldn’t matter. If it keeps him warm, I’m happy to do it, and it would add to the fun element. At least, I think it would.

It wouldn’t be an Oodie. I’m not suggesting that for a minute. But it might be a quick way of making something cuddly and warm, with the emphasis on warm. It would reduce my stash and, if I’m careful – for example, use a kimono-style sleeve, unshaped hood and only a small scoop in the pouch pocket – then there should be little fabric wastage and not much returning to stash afterwards.

Temperature blanket? Yeah, nah. But you know what? At that temperature, you need a blanket. Am I right?!

 

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day of decision

Bright colour to cheer the grey days

Most of the world awaits the 3 November election outcome of a foreign power with bated breath. At least, that’s how it seems.

Here? My return to the office has been officially confirmed for 2 November. The fallout from that is of far more immediate concern in this little corner of the globe. By way of practising with noise and crowds and stress, we do the occasional jaunt into the CBD for small gatherings. I acknowledge that we are extremely fortunate to be able to have those. If push came to shove, I’d rather stroll in my garden and pull out a few weeds!

As with many things in life, options are limited in spite of generalisations that might be made about there always being a choice. Over-simplification is rarely a helpful thing. Life is complex. I suppose if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that simple things hold greater value than we often allocate to them but that they are underpinned by complex systems. As a public servant, I’m part of a large underpinning system that helps a lot of people.

However, I am making a concerted effort to get back to things other than paid work. I’m crocheting a rug for a friend’s granddaughter, who arrived a little earlier than scheduled. In spite of our relaxing restrictions, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to deliver that. So you might not be surprised to hear that, although I’m using the wondrously rapid which-way filet pattern, I’ve come to a grinding halt. The 8-ply cotton yarn is from my favourite supplier, in a soft peach tone. I’m using a 4mm hook. It looks lovely.

By way of immediate needs, YoungB has needed a few rescue jobs: hole-patching on his long-sleeved cycling jersey and short bib-knicks after a recent fall (already done by hand and the clobber back in action); adjusting shoulder straps on another pair of bib-knicks so that they don’t sag quite so much (in the waiting pile); and taking up hems on his suit pants, which are now too long because he’s slimmed down. Fine. I can do that (they’re in progress but well on the way to completion).

I can also make a little scarf for him to wear with the suit for a Very Important forthcoming function, and I will. On Saturday, he and I shopped for fabric so he could choose the colour. It’s not going to be a particularly fancy scarf, but as he’ll be one of the MCs for the evening, he wants to make an extra effort. I’m happy to oblige. Somewhat surprisingly, Dr B approved of both our fabric and colour choices.

The test now will be whether I can pull off the actual sewing. I’ve found some suitable thread. It’s all straight seams, and the difficulty level of the fabrics involved isn’t high. But it’s a while since I did any sewing. We’ll see.

Whatever you’re doing with your time, may it include the satisfaction of small accomplishments to counterbalance global upheaval 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Crochet, Cycling, Health, Musing, Sewing

 

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mostly not doing it now

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The pleats never seem to work very well, even though I ironed them and used pins before I stitched. That’s the right side.

Wearing masks, that is, although Dr B and I continue to wear ours. Like the idea of actually observing the physical distancing rules, masks just haven’t taken off in our small corner of the world. Dr B is the one out there doing the hunter-gatherer bit, and he laments that everyone else thinks they’re immune. I suppose that must be right.

Eldest Aunt asked if I’d make a mask for her. I’m sure it would have been quicker and easier for her to make her own, but I did; and it’s gone off in a parcel with a couple of other bits and pieces and she should have it in a week or so. Express Post is anything but express nowadays, but we still have a postal service, so we are fortunate indeed.

This time I used a flannelette lining, to provide some extra protection. It didn’t add greatly to the bulk. Once again, I used pipe-cleaner to make the nose grip, but I was happier with how it turned out.

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That’s the back of the mask, so that it’s easy to tell which side you’ve worn to your face. You could wear either side as the front.

I hope your sewing has also been quick and effective.

 

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lamenting for thy hand, Belinda

Dido.jpg

Re-creating an earlier costume and in part replicating the “lying on a funeral pyre” pose

I am not good at fancy-dress gigs. It’s historically verifiable that my Mum was very good at such things, even thrived on them. Occasionally, however, I don’t mind making the effort for a good cause. Themes are helpful but not always appealing. You might remember my long-ago agonising about what I could do that would be suitably jungly for a family birthday party!

This time, the theme was Queen for a Day. Many years ago, I shared the role of Dido in a production of Dido and Aeneas. The costume was not too extravagant, so I thought I could approximate it without too much effort. That’s what I did. I didn’t have any suitable old sheets, so I bought a length of cheap, narrow, cotton fabric. I folded it end to end, cut it, then sewed the selvages together, so that I had a piece of fabric about the right proportion to go around me twice and leave ends that could be tied at one shoulder. I didn’t hem anything, but I painted the edges of the resulting rectangle with a bronze fabric paint.

Tyrian purple being the name of the game for the real identifier, I bought a length of purple velvet (from the reduction table) and did nothing at all to it. When it came time to dress, I simply fastened the velvet to the front of the costume, and wrapped it around. I reckoned that later it would keep me warm (this proved to be a good plan). Although my original costume didn’t involve a crown of any sort, I decided that this costume would. I made a coronet from a metallic gold ribbon decorated with Phoenician-blue dots. Dr B insisted it needed a ruby. Of course, they’re the sorts of things I have lying around the house! I made do with a small stick-on red rosette.

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The idea’s the thing. Right?

Because I could – meaning that I still had them in my jewellery box – I wore the earrings that were part of my original Dido costume. The other Dido had slightly different earrings, which she described as hubcaps. Mine weren’t.

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More chandeliers than hubcaps, but they’ve survived remarkably well for cheap costume jewellery 🙂

May your long-ago bits and pieces now and then come in useful for theatrical purposes 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Family history, Sewing

 

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when you’re all a mob of crocks

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We recently tested the pergola, which doubles as our home gym. Even unfinished, it’s already a pleasant space for birthday celebrations.

So yesterday was Federal election day here in Australia. I tripped over at the polling booth and went sprawling. I smashed the glass in my watch, so you’d probably agree that it was a reasonably decent fall. Embarrassing, and because in front of so many people, no swearing allowed! The young couple who helped me up off the ground urged me to sit down and recover before I got going again, so there’s every chance I looked as rattled as I felt.

I’m happy to report that nothing was broken – other than the watch-glass, which has now been replaced – but I have a very swollen knee, lots of bruises and enough grazes to be messy. By the time we came home, I was hobbling so much (because of the swollen knee) that all I wanted to do was put my foot up on a chair with an ice pack that I could swap between my knee and various other aching bits of musculature.

Dr B has recently had some minor surgical procedures on both feet so, although he’s generally not too bad, by the end of the day he was also ready to sit down and put his feet up. Visiting cousins rocked up at the door, as they were going past anyway: she with both hands bandaged, he with one arm in a sling. We sat out under the pergola with a cuppa and admired Dr B’s handiwork – as you’d agree from what you can see in the photo, it’s a lovely space if a little chilly on a wintry day – all while commiserating each other on how much we hurt. 😀

I hope that you’re faring better, and that all your DIY projects produce such great results as Dr B’s most recent undertaking.

 

 
 

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catching up

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Dr B is making excellent progress with his creative task!

Isn’t it good when you share a meal with friends, and are able to catch up on everyone’s news? I don’t do it as often as I’d like. The Bs have far more of a cafe lifestyle than I do, mostly by virtue of their cycle outings (of whichever variety). Yesterday it was my turn with some old friends from my nursing days. One is still in the business, nowadays working as a midwife in a busy city hospital. The other has already retired. We met for our meal at a halfway-point eatery, and between swapping news of former colleagues and hearing about the exploits of children and grandchildren, a couple of hours passed swiftly and pleasantly.

The friend who is still in the business doesn’t live far from me, so we travelled together. She’s another who knits and sews, and would like to learn crochet but is time poor now. A particular joy of our homeward trip was our quick duck into a fabric store, one where we’re both VIP members. It’s not far from home for either of us, so barely even a detour. She was looking for something she could use to refresh the old, tired, three-panelled privacy screens in her hospital’s nursery. We bought some lovely animal-print curtaining (in both colourways, to be used alternately so that one side presents taupe, cream, taupe and the other side cream, taupe, cream). It should sew up beautifully and look a treat.

The style of curtaining uses stretch wires at top and bottom. I have recent experience with that, because I made a small, privacy curtain for YoungB, so that he wouldn’t be constantly disturbed by a neighbour’s sensor light going berserk. I used some old furnishing fabric and put a wire only at the top. That was mostly for haste, but also because YoungB’s cabin presents problems when you try to screw things into its walls. So, although my crochet projects might not be completed, I have had a small sewing success.

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Curtain in a hurry, with some installation challenges unmet. However, YoungB loves it because it keeps out enough light that he can sleep. That’s all it needs to do.

When my friend drove me home, we checked the progress of the Bs’ building work: as the top photo illustrates, they’re going great guns (and they were both working on it yesterday). They did some catching up, too, in their case with a chippie friend who is our unofficial consultant (he has lots of good, sensible advice for safely working alone and will be getting a slab of his favourite tipple when the project is done). YoungB will shortly have a run of almost a week off, so he’ll be a great help with the roofing. They ought then to catch up sufficiently with the work that we might have a fully-roofed pergola by the end of next week. Bonus. And exciting-issimo.

As I implied, I’m not caught up on all my crochet WIPs. The green market bag needs handles, but I have to count stitches at least a little bit so that the handles are centrally located. I have, however, just about finished a knee-rug for work! Yet again, it’s made with some of that 8-ply (DK) synthetic green yarn gifted to me by a friend, and more of my variegated scraps, held double. So it really is thick and, this time, it really is quite small. I think my starting chain was about 60. It will work fine in the office, which is where I intend to use it. I will catch up with finishing all of the other small bits and pieces, but not while I’m watching TV. For me, because of my poor eyesight, that’s sometimes a little trickier than simply dealing with a piece of repeating-pattern crochet. I can manage, “One treble, one chain,” ad infinitum! The photo is somewhat dull, but I think you’ll get the idea: a quick and easy pattern that produces a lovely, squishy finish.

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Scrappy stashbusting stuff. And small, but enough to cover my knees so that I don’t get too cold at the office.

I hope you’re also catching up with your crafty projects, and old friends.

 

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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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and how dangerous could it be to clean your sewing room?

Brother Sewing Machine BOBBINS | eBay

Just bobbin’ along – but not suitable for my machine

You might recall I mentioned having made some inroads with tidying my sewing room? I’ve made no further progress with that, but I can at least get to the machine now. So I sat down to finish a spot of sewing the other day, There was white thread in the bobbin and I was working on some dark blue fabric. I always have spare bobbins. Always. I couldn’t find any for the Janome (but a dozen or so Singer bobbins precisely where they should have been; and, sadly, not  interchangeable). I searched high and low, looked in all the likely and unlikely places I might have put bobbins. Nothing. Well, heck.

Today I went off to buy some! And the truly dangerous thing about that? It wasn’t the having to get down on my hands and knees to read the label on the packaging, or even having to brave the industrial aircon at full revs. No. It was that bit of fabric that someone else was buying at a reduction of nearly 70%. I wouldn’t normally be tempted by it at full price. But we have a wedding coming up in a few weeks, and I would like to have something a little bit dressy and decent for the occasion (for once, there’s nothing truly suitable in my wardrobe). So a couple of metres came home with me, as well as the new bobbins.

However, I DID return the fabric I’d picked up to make myself a new summer nightie. I’d thought it was out at sale price, but that proved not to be the case. I couldn’t justify that sort of expense for something I’m going to treat like a rag, though I’ll wear it for years. Of course you’re right to suggest that, balanced out across the number of years – or even only one year – it wouldn’t be an extravagance at all. But I’m sure I can find some suitable leftovers in my stash. Perhaps the fabric won’t be as soft, but that doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t worry about making a new nightie except that the previous one I made is wearing out. I whizzed it up in a hurry five or six years ago. The seams are still neat, the neckline reinforcing is still doing a wonderful job, and the hems are holding up remarkably well. But it’s badly sweat-stained and the fabric has holes in it! It’s truly the baggiest, shaggiest nightie I’ve ever had but it’s been fantastic during hot, summer nights. We get quite a few of those in this part of the world.

So I reckon that’s me sorted for a few weeks. What have you been up to lately that’s proved more dangerous than it seemed at first blush?!

 

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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it wasn’t pretty but I did it

That would be the Bloody Long Walk. I wasn’t well and probably should have called it quits before I even started. But, as I often say, that’s why we have pharmaceuticals. Right? That’s YoungB holding me up at the finish line, though you’d swear he was simply giving me a congratulatory hug. Five minutes later I missed the edge of a chair and fell over. I could only laugh hysterically. I couldn’t get up, though I eventually managed it with YoungB’s assistance.That was about when Dr B decided we needed to go home. There was no argument at all from me, so that’s what we did. I went straight to bed the minute we got in the door 🙂

That stripey, cooling neck bandanna that’s half-on and half-off? I didn’t need it. But I made it specially the day before, just in case. I even half-charged it at one of the checkpoints, when it looked as if there might be some warmth in the sunshine. There wasn’t, or not much.

If you’ve recently managed a 35-Km walk or extreme activity of any sort – knitting, sewing, something physically challenging – well done. I’m going back to bed 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Health, Sewing

 

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