Wednesday, 29 July 2009

the night before

So this time tomorrow...

There's still enough things left to do that I should not really be blogging right now, dishes to be washed and clothes to be folded and packed, bags of rubbish to be squirreled into neighbours' bins and a pile of things I'd totally planned on scanning before tomorrow.

But I am so terribly tired and excited and honestly sick to death of packing and sorting piles and keeping mental lists of many and yet insignificant details.

Tomorrow will be a very big day that will begin very very early (the tenants' plane arrives at 4.45am - never before have I wished I lived further from the airport...) and no doubt will end very very late.

Everything is very still and quiet and poised. Not long now at all.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

more giveaways from the cone of silence

All giveaways now given away. Thanks to Wil (AKA the random number generator), the gloves are off to Shula, the socks to Triskele, the hat to Kim and the patterns to Nikki - enjoy!

The advance crew have left and after 24 hours of total chaos I am deafened by the silence. Well, human silence. The washer and bust buster have been going full pelt since they left dealing with the debris left behind.

Pretty much every thing is gone - there's a few changes of clothes to see Wil and I through to the middle of next week, a few piles of papers I need to deal with and a bunch of books and magazines I intend to selectively scan. There's the toys Wil can't part with, plus the ones we're leaving out for the new house occupants and the DVDs I have been plugging Wil into to ensure I can get all the jobs done. Otherwise it's just endless expanses of empty shelves and cupboards.

And can I say, it feels very peculiar. I miss Amy, and I'm jealous of the marvellous time she will have with her dad while they road trip it up North (used to be me and him, but I've been left for a younger woman...). And it's just plain weird to be living here after all my stuff's gone. And there's a pile of cleaning and last minute tidying and packing to do, but basically, I am just waiting around. So very unlike me!

Time to contemplate a few things in the detritus.The simplest of toys. We used to make these as kids (not as fancy spider man, I seem to recall we made very primitive monkeys back in our day) and spend ages making them jump and turn. I bought this one at the Walking Market in Chiang Mai 4 years ago and it is still going strong. Still loving it.

Glimpses into the mind of a child. So complicated!

The disturbing sight of the full contingent of inherited, found and bought Cars merchandising. If you read this blog with any regularity, you should be aware of how I feel about merchandising, so I'm not quite sure how this all came about, but Wil is utterly devoted to these little vehicles. Every op shop, fete and market stall is scoured by him and if there are figurines there, he'll find them. They are very rarely gathered together (this is probably a first) since Wil loves to hide them in all kinds of places. Sometimes I'm lucky to be able to find more than a couple but I try and keep at least one or two close by for emergency meltdowns.

The effort to get rid of stuff I haven't/can't/won't pack is now in high gear. Giveaway 3 is going off to Kelly so now it's time for giveaways 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Giveaway 4 is the hat. I made this one a month or so ago and while I love the fabrics inside and out (it's fully reversible), the hat is just not the shape I want. It looks like it is the shape I want, but it doesn't feel like I want it to feel.I wanted a wider, flatter brim. I'm going to be trying to make something that's more what I had in mind when I get to Noosa. I have an average size head and it fits me fine.

Giveaway 5 is some socks.I knitted these for Amy and they are too small for her now. In truth they were never exactly roomy, so I think they would suit maybe a 4 year old? Maybe 5? They are definitely used, but not at all worn if that makes sense. I'd keep them for Wil, but I'm pretty sure by 4 he'll be letting me know just what he thinks of wearing pink stripe socks.

Giveaway 6 is a bunch of vintage baby/kid patterns. I'm pretty sure all the pattern pieces are there, though I think some of the instructions are missing - best not take these if you are a brand new sewer just in case!

Giveaway 7 is fingerless mitts. My hand dyed camel yarn in a pattern cobbled together from a bunch of others. Basically I haven't worn these at all since I knitted them - they are too big for me. I know I could frog them and re-use the lovely yarn but frankly I can't be fagged. Let me know if you have big cold hands!

I just got my first phone call home - only 3 hours into the trip.
Me: So where are you?
A: Near a kindergarten thing.
Me: But do you know where the kindergarten thing is?
A: Yeah, just near the basketball court.
Me: Oh. So is it in a town or anything, what else can you see?
A: Not much. There's farms and stuff and lots of boring nature. Actually there isn't much nature at all.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

making a meal of it

So in my head one of the recurring themes about the trip North has been food. Good food that's also good for us, seasonal warm climate produce and the time to cook and eat with thought. But also the opportunity to do things a bit differently, to get better organised and planned about shopping and cooking, to experiment a bit with the how as well as the what.

And while Julia Child is not my ambition, I think there's some scope here for following Julie Powell's famous example and setting myself a little food oriented project, something I have to live up to. Is there a particular recipe book I'd really like to explore? A regional cuisine? A core ingredient? A technique?

I mean I'm not aiming for Master Chef, but I would like to progress my abilities and lift the overall tenor of our consumption. And I recognise that since the shortest distance between two points isn't always a straight line, a structured project that may seem to take me off track may in fact be the very best way to get to where I want to be.

I've been thinking this through as I look at my recipe book collection and try to decide which if any I really need to take with me. I mean I'll have the internet for goodness sake, but will that really be enough? Is there anything I need to do before I go, are commitments required?

So all you guys out there with your favourite recipes and recipe books, and stories about food and cooking, and tricks and tips and ways you manage the never ending task of keeping families fed and healthy, why don't you tell me.

Tell me what my project should be
Tell me what I should cook
Tell me where I should find my recipes
Tell me what you've learned that's made you a better cook
Tell me

Can you tell I'm missing my sewing machine already?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

today's post is brought to you by

I've been making a bit of an effort lately to eat well and lay off the crap somewhat. Nothing earth shattering just a nudge in the right direction.

But is very hard to go through the physical and emotional endurance that is packing without some additional sugar.

I bought these lollies weeks ago when I was out with Amy and Ellen. We watched the lolly dude in the window of Suga in Royal arcade in town making his hard sweets, marvelled at his itty bitty pictures and then bought a bag of the little fruit flavoured ones. Amy had the occasional one, but lollies don't really figure much in our lives so they stayed in the cupboard just waiting for me to bottom out.

In between stacks of books and papers I found some old artworks of Amy's.

I think the one on the right may have been done back when we were living in Thailand, when Amy was 2 or 3. I wrote the caption based on her description. I remember this phase of her drawing well and our whole Thailand trip was characterised by these big head people. Every night when we ate out she would draw furiously while D and I watched the world go by and then she'd give the pictures to the waiters and kitchen staff. She was quite the celebrity and the Thais found her astonishing. I loved her drawings, but I really loved waiting for the captions, a little window onto where the image had come from and what it meant to her.

The ones on the left must post date Wil, though it can't be by much since the camping scene evokes a trip we did when I was about seven months pregnant. I think most if not all the drawing in the top one was done by me (maybe?), but I love how she's characterised it as our family, and Wil as the little one and herself as the medium sized one. So I guess these are about 2 years old. So much development between these 2 stages (right and left), and since then there's been an equally rapid development. Amazing.

Yesterday I finally finished packing up the studio. That's a bit of a watershed for me, both because it is the room with the most stuff to pack, but more importantly because it represents the biggest emotional wrench. I can't explain it in rational terms alone, but the feeling of being separated from the accumulated materials and tools of my craft is quite anxiety provoking. And of course the second I had finished I found something that needed repair and I'd packed up every single needle and spool of thread!

But I am extremely glad to have it done, and to be able to move on to concentrate on other tasks since time is rapidly diminishing. Aside from the masses of packing still to do, and cleaning out and just plain old cleaning, and lots of last minute socialising and goodbyes, I am trying to prepare for remote working. D is similarly snowed with work and commitments and on Tuesday we are booked for our final inspection for our certificate of occupancy, so he is also very focused on silicone seals and downpipes and small touch ups. Oh and he's just realised that perhaps the trailer may need some structural work to make the distance.

Six more sleeps till Wil and I say goodbye to D and Amy, and 11 more sleeps till Wil and I are winging it up to join them. So near, and yet so far.

Friday, 17 July 2009

clean up clean out giveaway three

IMG_0664, originally uploaded by Soozs.

A baby play mat made by me from cotton broadcloth in primary kind of colours, with inserts of Vietnamese alphabet hand embroidery (some puzzling and amusing interpretations there). It has quite thick batting and is only lightly tie quilted, so it's nice and smooshy for a baby lolling about looking at the world. Approximately one metre square.

It is machine washable, though on the first wash some of the colour ran a smidge, so a little bit of the white cotton has some colour watermarks.

I'd love to give this one to someone with a baby on the way or newly arrived - even better if you also have a kid or two currently learning the alphabet!

Remember - leave a comment with contact details.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


Four years ago at about this stage of preparation for our departure to Thailand I wrote this on the old blog:

For weeks now when people ask me how the preparations are going I say, well it's hard to know, there's a whole lot of stuff you just have to do at the last minute. People think I'm a pessimist when I say it's like waiting for a car crash you know is going to happen, but here we are with more annoying little mishaps than an optimist would think possible...
[insert boring details of administrivia disaster circa 2005]
And then you remember that this is the price you pay for the glorious experience of travel - manic disaster recovery and lots of waiting around at airports. It's not all beer and skittles as they say. So I fill in my forms and race from place to place, and deal with idiots on the phone and smile a lot when I'd rather scream and compose evil letters to the university in my head. Because in a week I'll barely even remember this, let alone care. Till then, just gotta remember to breathe...

While I hope my writing has improved a little, really surprisingly little else has changed. I still feel anxious about how the last little bit is ever going to happen and which particular disasters will befall us. I am still worried we won't be able to fit all our stuff in storage or in the car, that we'll all get sick, the new tenants won't turn up, I won't take the right supplies to keep making, I will lose the submission details for the new book, the internet won't be connected at the beach, working remotely will go belly up.

But at the same time - in two short weeks I'll be past the point of worry and I will barely even remember this, let alone care.

This is one of many reasons I love the blog, the capacity to remind myself that I felt this tightly drawn before and just a few posts later I was exploring and adapting and enjoying and sleeping soundly in my bed at night. Time to get publishing those old blog posts into a handy reference books I think. Perhaps another creative pursuit with a lap top on the deck overlooking the ocean...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

consumer lust

It isn't groovy or glamorous but I really want one of these.

See? the packing is doing my head in.

clean up clean out giveaway two

The hat is now gone, hope it helps out with a warmer footy game, froginthepond!

A knitted hat.

It is made from Patons Jet, a warm and snugly 70% wool, 30% alpaca 12 ply variegated yarn. I made the pattern up. It is a largish adult size. I knitted it for me, but I haven't ever really worn it. Not sure why, it's rather nice actually.

Want it? Leave a comment with contact details.

Monday, 13 July 2009

SOUR '日々の音色 (Hibi no neiro)'

I'm totally late to this party but I love love love this. When I was studying film this is the kind of creative enterprise which would have been darn near impossible without lots and lots of money and resources. Now a bunch of dedicated fans with web cams can produce something which makes me smile.

clean up clean out on offer one

This yarn is now GONE - happy knitting Sue!

spun, originally uploaded by Soozs.

OK this one isn't exactly a giveaway, though it won't cost you anything like the value of the yarn. I have around 900gms of Cleckheaton Merino Spun, a single plied 12 ply weight yarn that's 80% wool, 20% nylon. I have 2.9 skeins of dark aubergine, 1 lilac, 1 green, 2 skeins of each grey and red. I also have the original pattern book for this yarn.

I bought a big lot of this in grey to knit my spun jacket, and had a lot left over because, I can't explain why it would use so much less yarn than it should. I also had several balls of other colourways in the same yarn because I liked them all so much. I've knit quite a few hats (like this, this and this) and other bits and the stash never seems to diminish! I planned to use them to make a stripe felted market bag, but realistically it is stupid to store almost a kilo of wool for who knows how many years till I maybe get around to it.

I'm not really looking to sell it, but a little something in return would be nice. Make me an offer for a swap or something you can post to my new address so I don't have to pack, sort or cart it! Email soozs[dot]com[at]gmail[dot]com

clean up clean out giveaway one

This is GONE now - congrats Kate, hope it helps ease your back with velcro baby.

Mei Tai, originally uploaded by Soozs.

I have totally loved this Mei Tai baby carrier. Made by me* nearly two years ago from denim and a lovely white and red print 100% linen, it has been very useful. I used it to carry Wil on my back, hip and front from about nine months to about two years. He's too big and heavy for me to carry now, though if I was stronger the carrier would be up to the job still. It has good long straps suitable for larger figures, but they can easily be cut shorter for a smaller person.

I can't bring myself to send it to the op shop where those unfamiliar with the mei tei will have no idea what it is and it will just as likely sit ignored or get cut up or something.

So do you have a bub, or know someone with a bub who would use this kind of carrier? If so leave a comment and I'll pick a recipient in the next week or so. It weighs over 500gm, so I'm not offering to pay international shipping, but if you'll pay shipping I'm happy to send it anywhere.

Edited to add - this is really only suitable for older bubs - at least 6 months.

* if you google mei tai patterns you'll find this one as well as lots of pics and instructions on different ways to wear it.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


I'm only a week late, which in current circumstances is nothing short of totally bloody miraculous, but at last I can tell you Ren is the winner of the hat. I'll get the hat to you pronto Ren to keep wee Archie's head warm!

In the great packing nightmare I am discovering all kinds of things I don't want but which I feel too attached to to simply send off to the op shop. I'll be posting them here as give aways over the next few days so stay tuned.

I promise I'll try not to complain too much about the packing, though that will be very hard since I am totally hating it and it feels absolutely bottomless. The whole house is in chaos, boxes and piles and random detritus in every corner. Nauseating.

But all weekend we've packed while the kids have been off with the out laws and we kept saying two and a half weeks as we pass each other. While I cart rubbish and fill boxes and get despondent and D builds downpipes and puts up splash backs and loads up the roof storage we keep our eyes on the prize (can you hear the ocean?). He's trying to get the house in shape enough to pass our final building inspection before we go and I'm trying to stay sane.

I found enough time to pick the tiniest ever perfectly formed pink lady apple off the tree out the back. Our one and only apple this year which came from some weird second bloom in late summer, it was tiny but delish. The fruit trees are clearly showing the signs of too many years of drought and shockingly hot days. I wonder what they will do this year?

And all kinds of other things have been happening, but now that we've hit the sprint section I'm not sure they really matter.

Friday, 10 July 2009


new bed linen, originally uploaded by Soozs.

The advantage of having such a monumental stash. Need two new doona covers with matching pillow cases? No problem.

round 2

So it seems the house is sorted. I say seams because over the last week I have learned nothing if not to take nothing for granted. Getting shafted whilst under pressure does tend to make you mistrustful. Anyway, assuming I am just a paranoid old cow, this time in three weeks we should be waking up in our new house in sunny Queensland, listening to the distant crash of waves.

All of which means it's time for round two of this insane battle. The big pack.

As I walk from one room to another all I see are bigger and scarier packing challenges - what to take and what to leave behind? The kids toys and books, the bathroom medicines, linen and assorted paraphernalia, the kitchen collections of recipe books, tupperware and home made jam, the bedroom clothes, files....exhaustion sets in just surveying the damage.

But let's be clear here - the real challenge, the one occupying my mind as I lie awake at night, is the studio. For a while I seriously considered leaving it all behind. I imagined time with my family undistracted by the projects I wanted to get my teeth into. I thought about reading books and cooking interesting meals and just hanging out. And I kid of looked forward to a life unencumbered by stash and stuff and patterns and all the bits that make crafting so possible. I thought that would be very nice.

But everyone who knows me questioned my sanity on this point. Some people actually laughed in that cruel and demeaning way reserved for people who are clearly deluded and should know better. And it's true, I don't think I can go for so long without the capacity, the tools and materials, to make. I want to sew and knit and make the things it occurs to me we need while we are away. Such needs will arise as surely as the days come and go.

So yesterday I bought the lycra and lining for at least two new swim suits because I figure a daily swim should be motivation to really conquer swim wear. I also bought the last of a discounted cotton linen bolt at Tessuti which I was planing something nice to wear when it suddenly occurred to me last night that it might in fact be perfect for the base for a quilt. So there's two major undertakings right there. And I have a new book project to work on, so there's stuff for that, and there's quite a bit of lovely fabric that's just perfect for summer clothing. Last year in the clegs sale I bought some lovely bamboo yarn super cheap with tropical knitting in mind, and there's a box of cotton yarn I put aside for knitted checker and backgammon boards. And I'll be needing pattern books for all this too, so I'll be taking the Ottobres and all the associated pattern drafting bits and pieces as well as knitting books and mags. Of course I'll need to pop in threads, zippers, buttons, elastic, trims, interfacings and linings and all the everyday tools and gadgets I can't do without in the making room.

And I'm guessing there won't be a major fabric and habby outlet in Noosa (is there?!) so there's a degree of pressure to really think through all the stuff I might need. A bit like craft camp on steroids. And all this adds up to a complete shit load of stuff. So how do I draw a line in the sand, er stash, and say this goes and this stays?

While I know I can cope with whatever I take and I am sure I'll find whatever I truly need up there (or from the blessed internet), the packing is important because it is m chance amidst the hurly burly to really think through what this next little bit of time will really be about for me on a creative level. Do I really want to simply continue my life here up there? Or do I want to deliberately shift the focus by the inclusion (and thus exclusion) or certain types of materials and tools? Do I want to get clear and simple, or leave my options open? Do I want to force myself, through circumstance, to address projects and materials I have neglected because other things have been more immediate, more attractive, easier?

Vexing questions these.

I'll be thinking them through today while Wil naps and Amy and I are sewing doona covers for her and Wil to have on the single beds at the new house. We don't have single beds here and I had two lots of sheeting in the stash for exactly this purpose so we're preparing and stash busting at the same time. Brilliant. Let's call it warming up for the fight.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


buttons and light, originally uploaded by Soozs.

I had planned a lovely post for today.

A post that closed off a week in which I have felt very much like I was in a washing machine.

Churn, foam, churn, spin.

Empty out and start again.

I have spent so very much time on the internet, on the phone, filling forms and faxing paperwork. Narrowing and then broadening the focus. My children have been horribly neglected and I have been completely distracted. I have dreams and nightmares each night about houses and strange neighbours and getting lost and shafted and otherwise jiggered.

But in my post I was going to tell you about the lovely home we've just rented, the final sorting of the nighmare that has been going on for as long as I can remember.

It was a post I started writing in my head last night after we got the email saying it was all good for our rental in Noosa. I added a bit more in my head this morning as I called in favours to get a friend's aunt to make a final inspection before we signed, and then more as I booked Wil into his new childcare centre, established Amy's new school and exhaled, finally about to get going on the big pack and sort, finally able to concentrate on something in the here and now.

Everything all lined up in a neat row.

But when, just 5 minutes after breathing out the agent called to say, well, actually, there was another applicant offering a better deal for the owners it slowly dawned on me that perhaps we'd never been contenders at all. The other family had been negiotiating for some time and it seems we were perhaps just bait all along to get the others to sign.

And you see, I think that may have been my limit. The post, well, that's long gone. My nerves are shot people and the future looks grim.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

52 pick up

Did you ever fall for that as a kid? When someone said want to play a new game? And you say yeah! And then they spray the pack of cards in the air and when they hit the ground they say 52 pick up!

While our whole Northern adventure could never have been described as a lay down misere, for a moment there it appeared our bid was firmly in place and it was just a matter of paying attention and putting the cards out in the right order.

But someone said, hey, want to play a new game?

Our applications for Darwin rentals have been knocked back, despite our impeccable references, because we only want six months and those six months happen to end in the lowest of the low season in Darwin. The only houses we really have a chance with are such crappy locations or so ridiculously expensive we can't feel good about going to live in a really compromised way.

With less than four weeks before our tenants arrive this is anxiety producing. Completely terrifying actually.

So all the cards are back in play.

We are looking at Queensland, which could be very nice (how about this, or this?). For a start it might mean I finally fulfil a life long ambition to live by the beach. That would be nice, wouldn't it? Not as hot as Darwin, but sunny and warmer and a good summer t look forward to.

Financially it would be much better value, and a real draw card for visitors being that bit closer. I have raised with my workplace the possibility of working remotely and they seem mostly positive, so that might take care of one of the major drawbacks to being out of a big city with a shortage of skilled people like me.

But gee, how am I supposed to know if I want to be in Surfer's, or Noosa, or anywhere else on that coast? I can't inspect properties, which is a pretty significant limitation, and while I can locate child care centres on maps, I can't assess how good they are, or how easy they are to get to. I'll need to make about a zillion phone calls to find out about vacancies and schools and search for shops and supermarkets and public transport options.

And if we aren't in Darwin, D will have to make a trip or two up there. Add on the trips he already has committed to do to Indonesia and New York and I could be spending quite a bit of time on my own and without a car - how will that be? And is it better to have an easy walk to school, child care or shops if I have to choose?

It feels very much like I don't have nearly enough information to make any kind of decisions, and yet I am acutely aware that every day that passes closes out another set of possibilities (especially when those agents do not update their websites very promptly). Feel very much that we need to sort this and yet, how can we possibly do that?

We joked for a while about caravan parks but our smiles are fading. The ratio of really crappy options to good ones is staggeringly against us.

And of course with so much pressure and so many problems to solve it is proving quite a challenge for D and I to not completely fritz out at the same time, retain enough focus to remember we have kids and it is school holidays and we need to do more than simply hit the play button on the DVD player yet again, not get depressed into inaction, or blame each other for the freakin mess we've made.

Expect turbulence. And mixed metaphors.

Friday, 3 July 2009

this is not a product endorsement

we all know bottled water kills the environment, uses gross amounts of resources and leaches toxic chemicals into your drink, but still. This si lovely (Thanks Jessica!)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

scrappy dudes

scrappy dudes, originally uploaded by Soozs.

They are multiplying!

Luckily all sock scraps now deployed. Back to the scary packing up thing.

It was fun while it lasted.