Thursday, 29 January 2009

hiding


hiding, originally uploaded by Soozs.

A super quick post today - I am at work, hiding from the heat. At home I am too scared to even turn on the computer in case I melt it.

D is away again and I am contemplating checking into a hotel with the kids tonight because I don't know if I can take another of Wil's utterly sleepless nights.

That boy does not like the hot!

And yet somehow thinks he will be better off if he plasters his sweaty body directly onto mine.

It seems kind of crazy to go hotel hopping at home, but after 2 days of 43o and with another on the way tomorrow it might be the smartest thing I've done in a while.

What I'm going to do at check out time will be a whole other dilemma.

Today's photo is an oldie, but so reminiscent of another hot hot hot spell. This is a much younger Amy at Angkor Wat in Cambodia in 2005. Good times.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

but where will we sleep?

A question uppermost in our minds right now.

You see a while ago my little family and I decided we would go and spend six months in Darwin. D has a research project that lets him be away from his desk and lectern for the second half of the year, I have an in principle agreement to have leave from my job.

We are planning on a stint of volunteer work in between other commitments, hopefully on some islands, hopefully involving a spot of craft skill exchange as well as more mundane things.

We are hoping we will have a great adventure like we did on our six month sabbatical back in 2005 when we went to Thailand. It is very exciting!

You might even remember that D and I had a little time out up North last year doing a spot of research for adventure locations.

So it is all systems go, except that we can't find a place to lay our heads. We're reaching crunch time in our planning because some of the things we need to do to be able to leave have to be finalised soon. And if there really isn't a place for us up North we have to come up with another plan, and that's a whole other bucket of stuff.

So I'm appealing for a little help. I feel positively sure that this is going to be a word of mouth thing. Someone is going to know someone who knows someone who wants to swap houses with us for six months, or who has a house they can rent out or needs house sat, or who wants to rent our house (excite them with pctures like these).

Somewhere in a casual conversation someone is going to mention that they need us as much as we need them and aren't we all lucky that the internet now puts us in touch with a thousand strangers who feel like mates and whose needs we happen to be enlightened about.

So you know, please keep us in mind. Please ask your friends who might know someone who knows someone. Time is running out for this particular adventure and I'd really hate for the sun to go down on it.

Contact me at soozs.com@gmail.com or leave comments. We'd all really appreciate it.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

to bed

No sooner had I whipped up Wil's car pants, than he found another piece of car fabric lurking in my stash. He's got a keen eye when it comes to transport vehicles.

I bought this fabric ages ago, somewhere back when I was still thinking playmats. I think Wil may have not even given voice to the car thing yet and maybe I wasn't using it for fear of doing a whole, I totally boyified my boy with car paraphernalia number.

As it turns out he needed no help on that front.

So I took the old pink and white doona cover Amy had adored off the cot doona and whipped up one all together more in keeping with Wil's one true love. He was so thrilled, he lay down and stroked it and whispered sweet brmms in its ears. (As you can see, I haven't managed a new pillow slip yet...)

I am contemplating a car softie - something I thought was really dumb up until quite recently when he started instsiting on going to bed with a small fleet of hard metal cars. I worry for his night time comfort.

And because it is really way too hot for a doona right now and he can't seem to manage the sheet and blanket thing, I turned out yet another item of bedding.

A light summer quilt made from a red cotton cot sheet, a single layer of cotton batting and a very soft and light orange cotton monk robe from Thailand. The robe is very roughly constructed from a number of pieces of various sizes and shapes and some of them in slightly different shades of orange. (I guess the roughness is all about keeping the monks humble and prideless.)

I bagged it out, rather than binding it because I thought it would be quicker and have a simpler look. I like the look but it was a lot of fiddling the get the batting in place after the bagging so binding may well have been quicker if I had machined it.

I used a simple contrast stitching for the quilting (which is marginally better than it appears - like the colour which is way off in this photo. In fact pretty much everything about this photo is crap but since Wil is asleep under it right now, you'll have to take my word for it), red on the orange side and white on the red side, and did almost all of it in rectalinear configurations. I wanted to highlight the rough piecework and seaming on the monk's robe, and I wanted it to be well quilted. I left one segment unquilted, changed the contrast thread on the red side from white to yellow and did a large sun like circle.

It was fast - maybe a couple of hours all up and was washed and dried ready for bed last night. I like this kind of project a lot - quick, practical. I could have spent a lot longer on it, quilted more complex and regular patterns, bound the edges and pieced the bottom instead of using a sheet, but this is not an heirloom piece. Wil won't be using it for too long, and I wanted it to be light, without any additional bulk from tonnes of seaming and binding.

And really - I just wanted it done. And it is. And even better, it was made entirely out of the stash, which is very pleasing.

* Edited to add: in response to Nicole's query (why oh why don't commenters who ask questions leave email addresses?). Bagging out isn't a quilters term - in fact I am a total heathen for bagging out and calling it a quilt! Bagging out is a sewing technique where you sew together the two sides of something with right sides facing (like a cushion cover, garment and lining, bag and lining - anything with two layers), leaving a gap somewhere in the seam and then turn the whole lot right side out through the gap, which you sew together after. It is a way of hiding the construction and getting a neat finish.

Conventionally however when you make a quilt you get your bottom layer, your batting in the middle and your top layer, sew them all together using deocrative quilting stitches, and then sew a neat strip of fabric around the whole of the perimeter (called binding) to neaten up and hide all the cut ends. Cutting out all the binding and sewing it on neatly is fiddly, hence my desire to not have to do it on a super fast while-the-boy-naps project. Trouble is that when I did the bagging out I only had a small openning through which to shove the batting and get it all smoothed out and properly placed after I had turned it right way out. Which was a total bitch. So it was still time consuming and fiddly.

In hindsight I should have attached the batting to at least one side of the quilt prior to bagging out - maybe with a few lines of quilting stitches, or even by basting (big, temporary stitches) adn then sewign it all together and turning it out. Much easier.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

safe keeping

So why is that I can't seem to get my act together to make myself a much needed lap top carrier a good 18 months after I bought mine, but within 30 minutes of my mum making it in the door with her new computer I was off with the machine?

It is very simple, made using a felted jumper and some velcro. 20 minutes top to bottom.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

sew nice


Have managed to sneak in some sewing today - aren't I lucky?

Totally adored fabric - I had to sew it, Wil was trying to sleep with it. Now he just strokes his own legs in an almost unnatural fashion. An improvement, no?

The pattern is great (Ottobre 3/2006). They are elastic waisted, which is still really practical at Wil's age, but with all the trimmings of jeans (pockets front and back, false fly, back yoke) they look a little more like real pants. I'll be making this pattern again. Wil says so.

And a project that's been on the books for months, a new sun hat. For a prototype pattern it turned out rather well. A couple of minor issues owing to the different fabric properties for inner and outer, but all up a nice fit and style. I'll be whipping out another soon.

Friday, 16 January 2009

monsters


carta. monster of choice
Originally uploaded by Soozs

Monsters are big here at the moment.

Amy imagines she sees them everywhere when there are none.

Wil loves to play chase and run from mummy monster (that would be me). Every now and hten he holds up a hand and says

no! stop! cared!

And I stop being scary and start being mummy again and say not to be scared and we have a hug and then he says

more?

And we start all over again.

But when it is time for bed the monster of choice comes out to go to sleep with Wil.

Carta is crocheted from Cleckheaton Merino Spun on a big ol 6mm hook using a pattern I made up as I went along, then felted in the washing machine. The eyes and mouth are needle felted on after.

Wil adores him and I think he's pretty darn cute too.

new socks


crappy colour continuity!
Originally uploaded by Soozs

Birthday socks, I've got till Tuesday.

I'm kidding myself, aren't I?

This the second pair of Opal yarn socks in a row and in most ways I like this yarn. Excellent yardage for one.

But how is this for both annoying and weird. This particular yarn has a three stripe colour repeat - white, green, blue. I knit the first sock with utter stripe predictability.

I cast on the second sock at exactly the same point in the repeat (half way through the white) only to find that at the end of the green stripe there was a stripe of white. I double checked, but no break in the yarn.

WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO THE BLUE STRIPE?!

Since I couldn't bring myself to undo the toe with all those lovely neat short rows and provision cast on, I broke the yarn, wound on the yarn to the last little bit of green (on closer inspection I realised the rogue green stripe was a bit narrower than all the others), joined and sailed on.

But look at how completely different the greens are. How the heck does that happen in the middle of a ball of yarn?

I am now a little wary with each new stripe...

Thursday, 15 January 2009

deseeded


deseeded, originally uploaded by Soozs.

The delight of blooms in full flight sometimes overshadow the little in between moments in the life of my garden.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

done and dusted




When I wasn't lazing about I was making stuff.

Quite satisfying really.

fancy a rib?

A while back I went in search of a really good pork rib recipe. While this is not the BBQ kind, and hence not the ideal summer food, it nonetheless makes the best ribs ever, especially if you use the meat rich, bone poor lower belly section. Super sticky and rich and flavoursome. Delish served with rice, steamed greens, salad or whatever.

Gordon Ramsay's sticky short ribs (from Delicious July 2007)

Mix the marinade of:
2 tbs light soy
1 tbs hoisin
175 gm (1/2 cup) honey
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tbs white wine vinegar (I use rice wine vinegar)
1 small fresh chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs sweet sherry or madeira
2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated

Pour it over 750 gm of pork ribs, cover and leave to marinade overnight.

Cook ribs in a large glass or ceramic baking dish covered in foil at 170 c for 1.5 hours, turning occasionally. Don't be put off by the way they smell in the initial phase of cooking - which to my taste is very porky and unappealing - because as the sauce heats and thickens the flavours take over and they smell and taste superb. Remove dish from oven and let sit for 10 mins. The sticky sauce is lovely but you need to pour off excess fat first.

Friday, 9 January 2009

markers


I am trying hard to avoid my standard return from beach post. Somehow the advent of a whole new year only serves to intensify my usual renewed perspective after time near the ocean. Reading Breath contributed too, but more on that in a minute.

The being away, the time with family, the relaxation, the escape from all manner of stuff and the simplicity of the breakfast beach nap play beach dinner routine all adds up to a very different take on life.

I'll spare you the ruminations, but you know, it is a big deal and a ritual deeply embedded in my psyche. The day I get to live by the ocean will be a very happy day indeed.

On the action front, we goccoed our little hearts out in between time on the sand. I beavered away on new socks and finally, oh finally, started the Hey Teach! and I made major progress in drafting myself a full set of pattern blocks. We went to nearby towns in rainy weather and bought a round of fake crocs for the family (except D who can't abide them) and I cooked my first ever leg of lamb, which at 40 makes me almost unoztrailyun (it was delish nonetheless). There were evening walks and skipping stones in the twilight.

We went, as we usually do, to the extremely low rent summer carnival where Amy rode the dodgems and popped ping pong balls in a wheezing minnie mouse's gob. Wil sat in a car that went around in slow, sad circles and he was so excited I felt like we'd just given him his first shot of heroin. A thought completed when we tried to remove him and witnessed what I am sure ambos see all the time when they administer narcane. He has already far exceeded the best Amy has managed over the years in the way of tantrums and I can't find words to do justice to the total loss of control and bodily function experienced by the poor little nip. Really, I was left stunned and more sympathetic than angry.

We caught up with friends, the usual suspects and a couple of complete surprises. In fact, for a moment there it was 1985 all over again. Except with more wrinkles and small people. Condensing 20 years into 30 minutes whilst chasing kids and dealing with bored partners and trying not to get sunburned.

And aside from commencing his career as an emotional basket case, Wil also hit a few other significant markers. He's gone from cot to bed, started using a proper cup, is wearing his first pair of elastic sided workboots and started to use language (as opposed to a few odd nouns here and there). He now tells me when he's cared (scared), done a bart (fart), going nigh night (to bed) or wants to go to the beash (beach), or wants to know where someone has gone - where papa? where margie? Basically, in a mere few weeks he seems to have morphed into a kid.

Amy is practicing for her teen years. Enough said on that.

And I read two whole books. I almost felt like a regular person! I greatly enjoyed both Breath and The Slap (review here). I have to agree with the reviewers that Breath was disappointingly short. I felt that there was a whole other set of stories only told in precis form after the main flash back and I would very much have liked to read them. But in every other respect the book was excellent. Winton is indeed a master writer, his command of language is supreme, and it is a testament to his skill that I could find a book in which there was absolutely nothing to hang my own direct experience off so utterly absorbing. And I was glad to be reading it by the ocean, where the exquisite detail to the surf was so much more present.

And I loved The Slap too, but in a very different way. So very much to hang my own experience off. So many dilemmas and issues so close to where I live, in every sense. And so very nice to read a book in which the landmarks of my town are so much a part of the landscape. I liked its length and structure, the story and characters where excellently drawn and played out. It couldn't have been a greater contrast to Breath, so they made an excellent pair.

There are more summer photos over here if you care to examine the minutae of my life.