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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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the CAL cowl again

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Slightly bumpier texture on what is technically the wrong side. It’s long enough that I can pull it over my nose on cold mornings!

I realised that I haven’t shared a photo of the reverse side of my completed CAL cowl. It’s not reversible in the sense of being the same on both sides, but certainly in the sense of being able to be worn either way. Therefore, I wear it both ways. Sometimes, I like the smoother texture against my skin.

As previously detailed, the yarn is Moda Vera Malibu, a pure wool 8 ply purchased at my LYS in April. I used a 5.75mm hook. For those using other measuring systems, it’s described on the hook as J/10. It wasn’t a complex project, and the resulting article has been a great addition to my wardrobe these last few weeks when winter has been biting hard. I know the sun is on the way back to us – and the mornings are noticeably lighter – but that memo hasn’t yet reached the planetary thermoregulation system.

May all your lovely cowls be fabulous for keeping you warm. If they’re reversible, that’s also fabulous 😀

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in Crochet

 

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that was the CAL cowl

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Fit for purpose and very warm

Tracy was running a series of KAL/CAL events, with a range of themes. For the March event, I knitted the Bloom-ing beanie for Nic, and delivered it for her 50th birthday, as planned. I’m sure it’s been getting a great workout since then as she dashes about suburbia on her morning walks. We are past midwinter and the daylight hours are noticeably longer, but early-morning temperatures remain appallingly unfriendly.

I managed to crochet a cowl for the April event, with the intention of wearing it under my new, maroon jacket. That’s it in the photo. I used Moda Vera Malibu, a pure wool 8-ply yarn, with inbuilt colour changes and slightly irregular thickness. The colourway is 86718, which is mostly shades of blue and grey. I used a 5.75mm hook, and worked half-trebles (UK terminology) into the back loop only. The side outermost in the photo looks knitted and is delightfully smooth. The other side is also attractive enough to wear facing out. It is bumpier in appearance and rougher in texture, but not harsh against the skin.

For August, the theme is to finish a WIP. I have so many that you’d think I could gallop to the finish line. You’d be wrong. I find myself well occupied with other sorts of creative work: reinventing oneself requires new ways of looking at everything. Repackaging and presenting to best advantage is surely creativity at its finest.

I am also rewarding myself by catching up with a few old friends during the interlavorum. This is a new word I coined in the style of interregnum, to mean “the time between jobs”. Purists – that is, people who are Latin scholars – might argue that it ought to be interopum, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as easily and, you know, it’s my word. I can do what I like with it.

All the best to you with enjoying your interlavorum if you happen to be at such a stage 😀

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Crochet, Knitting

 

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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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bean(ie) counting?

Bright and cheerful and bound to be deliciously warm

Bright and cheerful and bound to be deliciously warm

You remember how I’d hoped to finish that second beanie really quickly? Yeah, I know. Dooming myself to failure at the outset, wasn’t I? It has been such a busy time at work that there was an evening last week where I was asleep at the table, face down in my dinner much the way a toddler sometimes is. You can’t count stitches and decreases in a beanie when all you’re eyeballing are your beans. And that’s my excuse for the appalling miscalculation with beanie 2, which is too small! I could perhaps wear it and one of our extremely petite female friends could certainly do so, or it could be put in a raffle as a child’s beanie. Someone, somewhere will be able to wear it. No harm done, though I don’t think I want to knit another to that pattern just yet. Something with unambiguous cables will be fine.

But in true, “You thought that was tricky? Try this!” fashion, I’ve found myself suddenly needing another cowl for a friend who’s unexpectedly about to undergo major surgery. I’ll once again knit a 3-hour cowl. It takes me longer than three hours – I’ve already had to unpick! – but it’s a quick knit even at my pace and the resulting cowl attractive as well as something different from anything you could purchase.

The yarn is I’m using Moda Vera’s Fitzroy, which I think is a new season’s release. I bought it at my LYS on Sunday while Dr B and YoungB hunter-gathered some groceries. Fitzroy is a 12 ply/bulky weight and I’m knitting it on a 7 mm circular needle. As with my previous make, I’m not following the instructions religiously, but the difference in appearance caused by my knitting the slipped stitches in situ then passing them over – rather than, as the instructions advise, moving them around then slipping and knitting – is minimal. For me, there’s less likelihood of dropped stitches and if I say that’s what it’s meant to look like, I’m sure the recipient won’t argue.

So, yeah, beanies? Not entirely 🙂

 

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musings on mail and vexing calculations

Definitely white; this was a practice effort that has found a home with a colleague

Definitely white; this was a practice effort that has found a home with a colleague

Online ordering is quick and the results are occasionally fantastic. I was delighted that YoungB’s combined Christmas and birthday present, a pair of mid-length Ugg boots, arrived safely in a remarkably short time frame (particularly given that he’s in Italy; and, yes, I did send him some fingerless mitts for his actual birthday). The colour of the boots is brighter than I’d thought it might be but he loves them. Excellent.

I remain similarly impressed by the rapidity with which I take delivery of yarn orders from Bendigo. The contents of one recent packet were earmarked for a couple of cowls and a hat or maybe a couple of hats and a cowl but the idea was that one lot was for immediate use crocheting Youngest Niece’s requested cowl. My heart sank, however, when I pulled out what I’d seen as a white only to discover it wasn’t white at all. No matter. It won’t go to waste. That did, however, leave me with a shrinking time frame that I thought would be best addressed by the purchase of different yarn that I could actually check for myself as to colour.

Friday nights in the city can be quite a lot of fun. I walked into town after work, then I tucked into a bowl of laksa noodle soup with dumplings and a big pot of jasmine tea at one of my favourite eateries (Dumplings R Us, but it has no website). After that, I set out to buy yarn. I went from Lincraft to Spotlight, looking for a thick, white, woollen yarn. What I eventually found wasn’t what I’d had in mind but it was soft and, although there’s an acrylic component, it’s not so high that the resulting yarn feels plastic (unlike one that I used to work out a pattern; that was so plastic it actually squeaked). Luckily or unluckily, having been unwell with a cold, I was able to sit about and do not much but crochet the cowl, so I finished it well in time for Youngest Niece’s birthday.

What would it cost if I were to charge for it? Of course I take no account of the practice cowls or any of the work I did on the not-white one – I’ve now finished that and put it in my “this will come in useful for someone” box – but it took me easily 10 hours of work. You couldn’t possibly expect anyone to pay what that would mean in terms of cost, even if I worked it out at the Australian minimum wage (which is around $16.88 per hour). The yarn was $8 per 100-gram ball and I made a sizeable dent on the third ball. Let’s call that was $20. The work? Even at $10 per hour – such a low figure would raise the ire of people who do this sort of thing for a living; and rightly so – let’s say we’re looking at 10 hours or $100? No, you couldn’t anticipate that anyone would actually pay that amount for a very plain, hand-crocheted cowl. Yes, in real terms, it would be worth at least that much. I personally would be astonished if anyone were prepared to pay $50 for such a thing. So there’s the old discussion: handcrafting doesn’t pay.

As I say, for me this is just a hobby so I crochet in this case, or knit more usually, during my long commutes and maybe while I’m sitting around after tea discussing the day’s news or the next day’s schedule. It gives me something to do and makes me a nicer person. That shouldn’t devalue what I do but I understand that some might make an argument that I ought not to charge a high hourly rate. Some might even suggest that I shouldn’t charge at all for my time in those circumstances. I’m happy to make things for family members who appreciate them – and that Youngest Niece actually asked for this because she loves the original so much means she certainly is one such person – and I would never expect to factor in cost. All the same, if I wanted to be paid for my time, how would I ever calculate its worth?

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Musing, Travel

 

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scratching

It could be me, really. Copyright remains with Ingo Arndt.

I was at Spotlight the other day. It’s right by where I do my grocery shopping, so I thought I’d just bob in and have a look at some of their homewares (with birthday gifts in mind) and, although I’d quite decided that mine is an urban jungle and therefore a business suit with high heels and a few silly accoutrements would do the job for the jungle theme, I actually found myself irresistibly drawn to the remnants table and looking around on it for a piece of jungley fabric! And, wouldn’t you know it, I found some. At least, it might not be jungley, just “reminiscent of big cat and not all big cats are jungle cats but you’ll get the idea” fabric. I think it’s something like the markings on an ocelot, most of which are to be found in northern South America; that is, the Amazon. Surely that’s jungle enough for anyone.

In any case, although I reckoned I only needed a couple of metres, I bought what was left on the bolt because it seemed wasteful not to (it was a reduced-to-half-price remnant and the shop assistant threw in the balance for free)! I could probably make a little summer top out of the remaining almost a metre. It’s a stretch polyester, which is not such a brilliant idea for our summertime but it drapes beautifully and should make a reasonably flattering dress. If I make a top as well, it would still leave me the option of urban jungle because it would probably be all right with a business jacket and skirt. The trick now is to pick a pattern that won’t be time-consumingly difficult: either something I’ve made before or a very simple new pattern. I’m scratching my head about that at the moment.

Now that our own rowing state championships are pretty much over – thanks to the cancellation of the second day’s racing, YoungB still has to compete in a couple of events that, I gather, the officials are hoping to slot into a regatta in the near future – his training and all sorts of other things really start ramping up prior to the interstate regattas. Although I’m not directly involved in preparations for the interstate stuff, I’ll certainly have things to do that are beyond my ordinary daily domestica. Therefore, time for extracurricular activities – and, alas, at this time of year, sewing probably does fall into that category because it’s not portable enough to be carted off to rowing, unlike the knitted mitts which certainly are – is going to be limited. I’m scratching my head about that, too, because you might recall the party coincides with the interstate regatta.

Another bit of head-scratching relates to my lack of qualifications for employment. I’m supposed to apply for three jobs a week – and I negotiated that down from the original suggestion of five which was clearly silly – but, you know, it’s still a case of applying for what are obviously junior positions and putting my name down for information nights for jobs I’ve no hope of getting just so I can say I’ve done my bit. The lunacy of it all. It’s not as if you can really just trot out a pro forma letter for anything. You have to make at least an attempt to address the selection criteria. Nobody is going to employ me in a “starting” position and I feel stupid even sending off the application just to keep some bureaucrat happy. Attitude? Mine is not a good one at the moment, I admit.

YoungB is more sanguine about it, although he advised me against even bothering to apply for one job that he reckoned I’d find too physically taxing (he was probably right; one of his hefty mates holds such a position and finds it demanding). Both he and Dr B tell me to just keep sending off the applications. Don’t work too hard at them, don’t get too stressed about the whole procedure, don’t take it personally – I’ve had that advice from others; but sometimes it’s hard to take it any other way – and don’t let it get you down. Right. That’s all good advice but it’s such a waste of time and, you have to think, not just mine: someone at the other end has to make some sort of attempt to read the application and make a decision as to whether I’m remotely suitable.

I do transcription work from home. A couple of my erstwhile colleagues have agreed with me that we’re never going to earn a decent wage doing it, unless we’re prepared to work for a lot of hours and juggle multiple contracts. Some people do (for example, a couple of even more erstwhile colleagues – that is, those who left before jobs were targeted; what one incumbent described as escapees rather than redundants!). I think I have to balance health and family considerations against the possibility of what a negative impact it might have were I to stay up all night typing (even though I do frequently start work early so that I can make the most of the morning tranquility). I might once have reckoned that feasible but by my present age, and with my life experience, I know perfectly well that doing those sorts of things is a shortcut to disaster. So I’m just going to keep scratching out those applications and hoping for the best.

Whatever you’re scratching around at, I hope you’re finding your creative mojo. Of if you’re also on the job-hunting treadmill, just keep right on scratching away at that, too, and you might come up with the goods. But if you don’t, just remember to take your knitting to the dole office, will you? Perhaps it will keep you from scratching!

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Musing, Rowing, Sewing

 

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