Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Juggling

I've been feeling somewhat like a demented lunatic lately. Not in a bad way (did I just say that?) just dealing with a lot of balls in the air. And what really brought it home to me yesterday was this.

I walked right past e.g.etal and I didn't even look in the window. Crazy right?

And then I had to dash into Cleggs to get some elastic and I didn't even look at the yarn even though some of it was on sale.

On sale.

Madness.

So I was in town because I had a meeting for my serious job, or what I thought was a meeting that turned into a four hour series of meetings causing me to miss lunch with my boss, who it turns out is no longer my boss which is extremely sad since he's just about the best boss I've ever and I can talk straight to him and he trusts me that if I say I have no idea what I'm doing eventually I will and he's also interesting and well read and fun, and through those four hours I went from knowing what I was doing to having no idea what I was doing to still not knowing but having a plan for how I might. Because this is a normal part of big projects (I tell myself and I believe it) that you start out going yep, yep, I know what I'm in for and then you scratch the surface and it is a seething mass of stuff you have never seen before and suddenly you are neck deep in shit with no shore in sight. It all comes together again a bit down the road but somehow in the conception stage you never plan on needing to build a raft just to get ashore before you start the real work down that road.

So head exploding with information and confusion and an overwhelming sense of all the work that needs to be done and the very short time frame in which I could do it I dashed down to the other side of town to check out the venue for my workshop stopping briefly on the way for a Krispy Kreme donut to convince Amy that it would be worth her while to walk home from childcare on a stinking hot day (and because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about I had one too in lieu of lunch and even though I do like donuts I was mightily disappointed. People waited in queues for hours for this?) even though giving food bribes is really bad and I could have been organised and bought a piece of fruit from home in the morning but didn't OK? So the venue is good but of course has some issues, not the least of which is a series of sewing machines I've never used and will need to work out on the spot (how hard can it be?) and a total absence of critically important items like scissors and bobbins.

So I'm swapping shoulders with my heavyweight folders from my meetings and going through the logistics of how I am going to manage to bring crates and crates of stuff for the workshop when Amy is supposed to be at swimming lessons and a taxi can't even take me to the front door (arcade entrance) let alone get several loads into the lift in one go and I dash in to get the elastic because I have been knitting a new design and am needing to fit the waist band before I progress further and looking at the clock and thinking Wil, who was malto cranky this morning, will be hanging out for some milk and I haven't even got my feeding bra on because I'm getting sick of saggy boobs all the time so I'm going to have to sneak in the Centre without him seeing me and get to the loos and change my bra and suddenly the temperature seems to have soared and my 100% not natural fibre slinky work outfit feels a lot like a plastic bag and my make up is probably running but I'm knitting on the tram anyway because, well, clearly because I am a lunatic.

So I get to the Centre and before I can sneak in and re sag my boobs there's some committee work to do (yay for volunteering), papers to sign and dates to note and then I manage to feed and get going but not before 45 minutes has elapsed and the sun is now so low that the pusher awning doesn't block it out of the eyes of a very tired and hot boy and the flies can spot an easy target and simply won't leave him alone and Amy is chattering away at full throttle but I can't actually make out what she is saying over the traffic noise and Wil's cries. Her feet are dragging just as Wil's impatience is peaking so I'm nagging her to hurry up and wiping sweat from my eyes and figuring I must smell pretty bad by now what with all that BO inducing plastic I'm wearing and Amy and I are fantasising about how many ice blocks we'll have in that first glass of water when we get home and even though I am making an effort to eat good food and only consumed pure fat and sugar for my sorry excuse for a lunch meal when D suggests fish and chips for dinner I can but agree.

After a short burst of calm while the food was going in, the kids and I retire to the bath to try and get rid of the sweat salt and sunscreen and deep fryer grease deposits and then it's time for feeding and whispered stories while little boys snort and groan with snotty noses and then the kids are gone and it's time to write emails and draft zine submissions and plan the book project I have to submit in a few weeks while D snores in front of the channel 31 car shows and I'm tired but in the back of my mind I keep thinking about the story of a friend of mine who has been trying to conceive for a few years and has just started IVF because her partner has viable sperm but it seems it is the wrong shape to fertilise an egg without assistance of the clinical kind which was news to them since his last partner got pregnant and if there hadn't been a miscarriage he'd now be raising a child that wasn't his. And then I hear there is a proposal being floated by some men's group to have all newborns compulsorily paternity tested and I think that's really mad and the whole paternity testing thing just seems to be throwing up more and more ethical dilemmas in which men and women fight about deception and betrayal and economic disadvantage and what a family really is and out there is a growing legion of kids who have been abandoned without understanding why and how can that be fair?

And I didn't bake the cakes and biscuits I had planned to do ahead of time for the annual round of functions in which I am required to produce an endless array of lucky dip items and hamper fillers and tasty child appealing salads and plates to share and cakes for fundraisers and gifts for carers and teachers and neighbours who so kindly collect and cart Amy around whilst Wil naps or gets sick or otherwise takes me somewhere else (just tallying up how many favours I've called in over the last year makes me feel guilty and extraordinarily lucky) so I need to add that to the list of stuff that really has to be done but I'll try not to forget that I get to go out to dinner this Friday, like a grown up, while we call in yet another favour to have someone come and sit with the kids and because my electronic diary is getting ancient and the battery can't hold a charge for long I have to try and remember the 30 odd events and appointments coming up over the next few weeks, including a range of addresses I am unfamiliar with. And I keep forgetting to make the advent calendar and I only have two days to go.

And I think my head just popped right off.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Meaning of American Pie

Just because this is a really great song, full of stories about a time that has set the agnda for the years that followed. It makes me so sad that this time has pased. Even the momentous and very exciting Labour Party victory here in Oz ont he weekend cannot compare to the optimism and depth of feeling that was once commonplace.

Ironically it is Amy's current favourite song - she loves to sing the chorus with exaggerated American accent. I try but generally fail to remember all the verses in the right order. Praise to You Tube for letting us revisit the artifacts of our youth!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

oi, you!

Have you ever made a softie? Have you ever thought how wonderful it is for you, your friends and especially your kids that you can do this? Have you ever thought about all the kids out there who don't get the chance to sit by the sewing machine and the pile of fabric with their mum or dad and watch the magic come alive?

Then high tail it down to see Pip or one of her team at Meet me at Mikes and donate a lovingly crafted friend to the Mirabel Foundation who support children whose lives have been affected by parental substance abuse. Such a worthy cause and so easy for us crafters to make the world of difference to someone who needs extra care.

If you pop in yourself in person you also get to peruse the shop, which is totally gorgeous and supports lots of local bloggers and the extended craft community. Win win I say.

Do it.

Oh and I meant to say too, thanks to those who left comments with tips about the toy making workshop. The consensus is that there is no consensus for what makes a good beginning on this journey which I find strangely comforting! Although it makes it harder to meet everyone's needs in a workshop setting (not to mention bring all the materials for any possibility), I would find it utterly boring to teach softies by numbers. So instead I am preparing both a range of planned projects and a healthy encouragement for going it alone in the creative wilderness. Exciting!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

instant karma

Just add yarn and needles. The cap karma pattern, by Smariek, is easy and a nice variation on standard cable hats. The original is much improved by the alternate decrease pattern devised by the ever creative Jared, who I don't know and have never laid eyes on, but who is my current fantasy man nonetheless. Is it possible to lust after a man's knitting?

I was a little concerned about sizing, since the pattern doesn't give gauge and I was knitting with an 8 ply tweed (Meskills grey) combined with a very uneven handspun alpaca on 5mm needles. It worked out just fine in the width but is a little bit long. Which is surprising given I made a mistake and started on the 4th round of the cable pattern (note to self: do read the pattern). How do you get the right width but too much length when you knit the right number of stitches, but less rows? Anyway, it looks fine with the brim folded so no harm done.

And a little video snippet of Wil at 9 months.

This so captures how he is at the moment - exploring, pushing, pulling, babbling, screeching, wanting to get out there and crawl but really more comfortable in his own territory. And smiling, always smiling. Sweet sweet boy.

And I am kicking myself that I forgot to get out the camera, but I took Amy proper clothes shopping for the first time on Thursday. You know multiple outfits and change rooms and twirling in front of the full length mirror and a shop full of adoring on lookers.

She was a bit shocked that you didn't get to keep every thing you tried on (she'd already decided which one she'd be wearing home and which one she'd be wearing to kinder), but she recovered well.

And all these people have been saying to me how was I going to handle Amy starting school next year, it being such a big thing and all, and as I was standing there in that super groovy shop it felt like a much bigger milestone to me. I see school as just the next thing (she's already done childcare, kinder in Thailand, kinder here), but seeing her in that shop...she seems so self possessed at times, so busting to get out there and be who she wants to be.

Well, it was a moment anyway.

And on the way home she turned to me and said,

You know mummy, I'm going to be a good teenager. I'm not even going to hate you or dad.


Yeah, right.

I forgot to tell you earlier (fascinating stuff you learn here) that she got another haircut, this time with a fringe (I believe that's bangs to the Americans in the audience - and where the heck did that term come from?). She announced she'd like a fringe and then I noticed she had a clump of hair in front that was a lot shorter than the rest. I asked her what had happened and she said,

I don't know.

I can't remember.

Maybe one of my friends, or maybe me, cut it accidentally.

Yeah, right.

But I can't criticise. At the age of four I did the exact same thing, only I didn't stop with the single snip, I took the whole lot off at the roots. I looked like the ultimate 70s bogan child. There are photos to prove it.

And no, you can't see them.

Oh and I have been meaning to ask for your advice. I am teaching a workshop on soft toy making and I need to select projects, at least some of which need to be suitable for beginners. I'd love to hear from people who have sewn toys about what their first experiences were like - what things they enjoyed, what was difficult or discouraging, any particular patterns they liked or otherwise, any particular skills or tips they found useful, or anything else that might help me make the experience as enjoyable as possible for those starting down this joyous road.

And now I am off to feed my addiction. Ravelry, my love for you grows every day. Sigh.

Monday, 12 November 2007

whew

I feel like I could write a blog post that goes for three days there's so much to report.

There's still stuff from last week I haven't told you, like the arrival of Plush You the book. An unexpected and very pleasant surprise. Always good to contribute to a book when you are pregnant and forgetful. Lots of great work to see and some lovely patterns.

And the major rains which saw D dash about, rushing to fill every vessel he could find to catch the water we could give back to the garden this week. The first wheelie bin (which I think is 120 litres) filled completely in 14 minutes!

The wee pouchette I made using kindly gifted scraps from two very generous souls and a snap which came as a spare on some baby clothes I bought yonks ago. Thanks Shannon and Justine (and Justine, this is actually the second little item I've made from your piece and there's still another few cms left - I'm optimistic!).

A very blurry but so special pic of Wil as he flew off to childcare on the back of D's bike. That helmet on that head! Too cute.

And I did a spot of destashing and organising that took me from this to this Very theratpeutic.

I have found a home for a few bits and pieces but there is still heaps to go, lots of toy making wool felt blanket and jumpers, and bits and pieces of fabric. I'm afraid I'm too mean to pay postage for scraps so unless anyone out there would like to either come and get it or pay postage to have it sent I'll take it off to kinder for collage and general craftiness. Email me if you are interested.

I think perhaps the destash was prompted by my preparations for the weekend.

Oh yes, the weekend.

What a lovely lovely thing it is to go and be undisturbed by phones and visitors and obligations and children and people who just don't get why you'd want to stay up all night talking and then get up early to sew and knit.

This was the fourth craft weekend since we started out in 2005 and I'm getting it down to a fine art. I packed well (huge sigh of relief) taking neither too much nor forgetting anything significant and so managed to get done pretty much all the sewing jobs on my list, knit two swatches for gauge and start the cap karma.

So here's the product of my labours
A Mei Tai baby carrier, made using Beth's great instructions here. It hasn't gotten much use yet (surprised?), but I sure as heck like the way it looks. The red and white print goes great with the dark denim. The pattern and instructions were great and I'd really recommend it to anyone who wants to make a carrier for an older baby - I tried a 4 month old and it wasn't going to work for him.

I also got some clothes made - a new skirt for me in embroidered black linen/cotton, a denim skirt for Amy with machine embroidered heart, teamed with a tunic top I copied from this lovely lady (love your work baby!) and a pair of super fine summer PJs for the Wilster. And yes, it didn't escape my attention that both my kids were getting tops made with the same fabric left over from something I made myself but I promise to be vigilant about letting us all out of the house together. Besides it feels very good to be using every last scrap of a piece of fabric.

There were a couple of other projects but I won't mention them here for fear of spoiling surprises in the coming gift giving season.

But of course the real prize of the weekend was the company. Some blogging friends, an oulaw, the felt dealer, a dear friend from my mum's group and alumni from crafting weekends past made the time fly by all too quickly. Really it was a two day party with great conversations taking place over excellent meals, scattered between the sewing room, the veranda, the kitchen table and all kinds of spaces in between. I could quite happily have cloned myself and experienced the weekend several times over all over the house. (And speaking of houses I'm always looking for new venues close to Melbourne - any suggestions??)

Such a wonderful and special little community and I consider myself so very very lucky to have a life in which such things are possible, and especially a partner in life who not just lets me run away for a weekend every six months, but who sends me off with his blessings and tells me not to hurry home and who, in my absence, transfers our wee boy from him hammock to his cot (Nichola, the hammock is free now!) and eliminates his roll over feed and gets him sleeping through the night.

HEAR THAT?

S L E E P I N G T H R O U G H T H E N I G H T.

I mean not to put too fine a point on it, but with Amy we waited two and three quarter years to reach this point, and we had to move continents to get there. My darling, you are a genius.

Talk about a gift.

So I tried to live up to the dream run by resisting buying the Noro Silk Garden I was so very taken by at Purl's Palace and then rushing home and doing lots of this and making lots and lots of nutritious well balanced (mostly) organic colour coded baby food (call me anal, but trust me when I say the colour coding is an excellent substitute for a short term memory and effective communication between family members).And I didn't feel even slightly resentful about getting up before 6am this morning.

Life is good.

Now to start planning the next craft weekend...

**update - the scraps have been claimed. Sorry Kate and Amanda but someone else got in sooner and also lives locally which seems like a better use of the world's resources. Also to Jonesie and others who leave nice comments and have funny intriguing profiles why oh why don't you have an email or at least a blog address? You do make it hard for me to stalk you, I mean send a sweet reply. I'm harmless, really. And I aspire to be a full time nerd in service of the people, er government.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

why, hello there!

No, I'm not dead, just been, well..actually no excuses whatsoever. Just not blogging that's all.

I am in hyper drive right now, preparing for a great escape weekend of crafting and eating and drinking and NO CHILDREN on the fourth bi-annual craft weekend. So busy trying to plan well that I feel exhausted before even leaving. Being careful to take enough project materials, but not so much that I waste valuable time tossing up between them all. Planning is the key.

Well, planning plus realism.

I'll give you the wrap when I return.

For now just wanted to share a few things that have been really floating my boat -

Little kitchen - I totally accidentally stumbled across this place. I've bought some of their children's cooking utensils in other shops before not knowing anything about the company but this morning I walked in off the street to their brand new premises where they teach kids organic cooking and fell in love. Sabrina and I had a lovely chat and even though Amy's next birthday isn't until August I want to book her party there now! Great woman, great business.

O-wool - I've got 4 skeins of this luscious stuff just waiting a project of my own design. I have a very clear mental image of just what to do, which is a kind of new thing for me as a knitter. If only I could knit in my sleep! The yarn, aside from it's excellent environmental credentials is as soft and cudly as cotton, but as springy and tweedy as wool and I am dying to get knitting. Is there nothing this store sells that I don't want to wrap myself up in?

Habu - I know it's old news but I've got a feeling Christmas may be bringing me a little Japanese gift. I really will need to knit in my sleep.

Cap Karma - complete with Brooklyn Tweed's adjustments. World's coolest beanie for sure! Another Christmas present off my list.

Lara's covers for notebooks - another handmade item on my gift giving list and another weekend project. At this rate I will have no trouble at all with the handmade pledge.

Almost at the halfway mark on the blocks for the crochet blanket - could it really be?!

Wil's first tooth has finally shown up. About bloody time.

Now.

Go pack and stop crapping on.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

love the gocco

Because you know. Why would you do dishes when you can gocco? That's Christmas taken care of and as good as a year's worth of birthdays. Now I just have to remember to write on them and post them. Might be two year's worth. And does anyone have a recommendation on where to get good cheap card stock? Can't linger, must pick up sooky baby (teeth perhaps?) and wade through knee high mess all over floor and try on all the summer clothes I packed up into the ceiling summer before last when I wasn't pregnant. Self transformation continues. Wish me luck and the strength to chuck out all the stuff I look really awful in.