July 31 2008, Thursday

I couldn’t not do it

I had to buy it. I’m sorry. But come on, a pattern for a knitted stuffed Loch Ness Monster?. Don’t talk to me of restraint. You would have done it too. You know you would.

posted to Craftiness,I Like a Challenge @ 19:20

July 24 2008, Thursday

And you thought they were just for kids…

After creating an absolute mess of a hank of rowanspun 4ply the other day (and being very thankful that I had a marionette as a child – I have experience unravelling knots in string), I realised why people might want a ballwinder. But I have no excuse to spend ludicrous amounts of money on such gadgets, and also no wish to repeat my experience. With no handy helpers around to offer their services, I had to use something to wind my new yarn with.

high chair used as a ballwinder

No, I don’t think this qualifies as an IKEA hack.

posted to Craftiness,Randomness @ 14:29

July 9 2008, Wednesday

A moment of not so quiet pride…

Because let’s face it, if it was really quiet, I wouldn’t be writing about it here.

I have successfully managed to turn this…

knitting with stitchmarkers

into this…

finished jumper

Please excuse the dodginess of the second pic. It’s not easy to lie on the sofa in the good light while trying to take a flattering photo of both yourself and the article of interest. Anyway, this way you get a bonus shot of Elizabeth about to get herself into trouble with the aircon remote.

This jumper presented several firsts for me:
1. First adult sized garment that actually fits properly
2. First time knitting with mohair
3. First time knitting lace
4. First time picking up stitches for a neckline

Well, maybe 3 isn’t quite truthful since I had a practice go with a less fluffy and easier to see yarn before starting. Didn’t stop me stuffing it up almost every time though. Hence the bright pink stitch markers which were meant to aid me in keeping the pattern repeats sorted out. But I kept suddenly having 1 less stitch or 1 more than I should have somewhere along the line. I still don’t know how it happened, since I was convinced I had it right until I got to the next row, and then very obviously didn’t. After I’d finished the lace band on the second sleeve I was very very relieved. More than anything because it meant I didn’t have to unravel and start again. Again. If you’ve ever attempted to unravel mohair you probably feel my pain, and understand that I always ended up having to cut off the cast on row, and in the last instance, 3 other rows as well.

But at last I triumphed, after a rather tense time of doing the neckline. I had a 40cm long circular needle, and really should have used a 60cm circular needle. The knitting was all bunched up and it wasn’t until I cast off that I could tell that I hadn’t messed up the picking up stitches bit.

The pattern was ‘Celeste’ from Jo Sharp Book Five – Gathering (They don’t seem to have that particular pattern listed on that page).
I used 4.5mm and 5mm needles, and about 10 and a half balls of Jo Sharp Rare Comfort Kid Mohair in shade 606, the rather aptly named ‘swamp’.
I knit a size L, which claimed it needed 10 balls. Even without all of my cutting off rows I don’t think I could have made it with 10 balls personally. But I do tend to err on the side of caution when leaving tails for weaving in. And if you like to keep your tension squares, you would definitely need the extra ball.

So, am I done with mohair? Not on your life. Even someone who lives in a subtropical climate can do with at least 2 mohair jumpers in their wardrobe. Right?

kidsilk haze

posted to Craftiness,I Like a Challenge @ 13:16

June 9 2008, Monday

Silver linings (looong post)

Elizabeth at about 5 and a half months
Elizabeth at about 5 and a half months

One year ago today, Gary and I went into the city for the afternoon. It was cold and grey, and I was wearing my Batman sweatshirt. We probably didn’t eat any ice cream, but I’m fairly sure we must have spent some time at Borders, perhaps we even bought books. Our time together as just a couple was drawing to a close, and we were feeling nervous, excited, a little scared. I do remember that we stopped at a coffee shop outside the city library. I had a cupcake and some hot drink, I think Gary had a pie. We then made our way back to the Citycat to get home, probably walking across the bridge to the Southbank ferry terminal.

We had parked near the university, and we may have talked over what we might get for dinner, perhaps we contemplated watching a movie. It was just 4 days from my estimated due date, and I was feeling heavy and tired. We left the parking lot and were shortly heading along what is the main road into the university area. I suddenly realised that Gary had slowed down. He could see that a car approaching from the other direction was driving erratically. Some people were milling about the roadside, appearing to follow the car. It lurched closer. And closer. Gary sounded the horn.

I remember screaming, and I was thrown forward slightly. None of us were injured, though I was quite worried about Elizabeth (at that time known only as Snuglet). Worried about what the rush of adrenalin I had had might do. The woman driving the other car was not completely with it. Our first thought was that she was under the influence of… something. She tried to start her car and drive off, apparently not aware that our car had effectively stopped her from going any further. Gary got out and called the police. The people who had been milling about told him that they had been watching her coming up the road, and had already called the police. She had hit 2 other things already, I don’t remember what they were.

The house we crashed outside belonged to some students, and they invited me in to rest and keep warm. One of the girls made me a cup of tea. I could feel a lot of movement coming from my womb, kicking or punching it felt like, and I kept hoping that everything would be ok. Gary stayed outside. Eventually the police arrived, and shortly after that, an ambulance. One of the paramedics came in to talk to me, she reassured me that everything would be ok, though I later learned that she should have recommended that I go to hospital for a check up. I heard shouting outside. The paramedics were dealing with the other driver. She was diabetic, and she was having a hypoglycemic episode. I’m guessing they must have given her some glucose or something, as she eventually came round and was able to exchange insurance details with Gary, and explain what had happened.

So here’s the first silver lining – Our crash stopped her from going any further. It wasn’t an easy time for us, but we weren’t injured, our insurance provided us with a loan car while ours was being fixed, and it was able to be fixed. But what if we hadn’t stopped her? She may have run someone down and not even known about it. She may have had a worse crash, possibly injuring herself and others. Where does the hypoglycemia end? Does your body eventually sort itself out, or can you be permanently disabled by it? I don’t know enough about it, but I’m glad that she was helped before it went any further. Even though at the time I was feeling upset about what this crash might mean for us.

We had lost a light on one side, but the car was drivable, and we eventually got home. I called our midwife, who, after asking whether I’d been thrown forward, said I needed to go into the hospital for monitoring. I would likely have to spend the night there – without Gary. It wasn’t appealing. But a risk associated with a crash is that there could be abruption of the placenta, which is even less appealing. I called my mother as planned, but didn’t tell her anything of what had happened (Sorry again, mum). We wanted to be sure of what was going on before causing anyone any worries. We called on a friend who I was planning to have present at the birth to take us into hospital so that Gary didn’t have to drive. Our midwife met us at the hospital, and I was attached to a fetal heart monitor and brought a warm blanket. They monitored me for 4 hours.

After some confusion over when I might be going home, I was eventually admitted to the ward to spend the night, and have another round of monitoring the next morning. My room mates were a woman being tested for gestational diabetes – sleeping; a woman being induced – having early labour pains; and a woman with a 2 day old baby – trying to sleep. I didn’t have all my pillows, and most importantly I didn’t have Gary. I didn’t sleep well. Our friend had left earlier, and Gary got a taxi home. I think he eventually got home at about 2am. I had 2 more 4 hour monitoring sessions the next day. I was now more convinced than ever that I would be leaving the hospital as soon as possible after the birth. I’d had my stay in the labour ward thank you very much. After the final monitoring, the registrar on duty came to talk to us. She was the 4th doctor I’d seen since the night before, but definitely the friendliest. She said that there was a blip. She said that if you were to monitor anyone’s heart for long enough you’d get a blip. Hearts have blips. It’s perfectly normal. And there was nothing else to cause any concern. But I should ask my midwife to do another monitoring at my next checkup. Then she let me escape home.

There was no facility for monitoring at my antenatal clinic premises, so I called our midwife to discuss it with her. She arranged for me to have a full checkup at the hospital day ward on the Tuesday – my estimated due date. They took blood, 11 vials of blood. They did more fetal monitoring. They did an ultrasound.

The ultrasound.

I guess the ultrasound is the second silver lining. It really didn’t feel so at the time. It felt awful to be honest. The sonographer was very impersonal, talking through what was going on as if we weren’t in the room. I don’t remember much, but I do remember 4 particluar words: “we’ve got a breech”. Perhaps she thought we already knew that. We didn’t. What followed was several days of confusion, stress, second guessing, questions, negotiations, an ecv, a meeting with an obstetrician, and something I swore I would never do – acupuncture (never say never). It was a horrible time. I kept wishing that I could just click a little commlink and ask Scotty to beam the baby out. I didn’t want to be in that maelstrom anymore, I just wanted my baby. We began to feel that until we could make a final decision about the birth, I wasn’t going to go into labour. We needed to reach a point of letting go, to let it happen, however it might end up.

But now looking back, I see that had we only discovered that she was breech once I’d gone into labour, her birth story could be very different. We wouldn’t have had the time to think, discuss, be more informed about our choices. We’d have been vulnerable, scared, and would have likely bowed to whatever the registrar on duty wanted to do. Knowledge really is an empowering thing. And silver linings can be seen in dark clouds (even if you have to look back after they’ve passed to see them).

posted to Being Pregnant,Gratitude,Mysteries of Life @ 9:49

June 2 2008, Monday

The Game

The Game

I first saw this on Clementine’s Shoes, but I also see that Ali has one too.

You can read more about it at my flickr link, or at either of those other posts, but basically, the pictures above are answers (sort of) to the following questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

I must admit, Celebrity crush was the hardest one. I don’t actually have one. He was the first person to come to mind.

posted to Life in Pictures,Randomness @ 15:38

March 20 2008, Thursday

The joy of going round in circles

There are things that frighten us that really are scary. Bungy jumping off a bridge for example. Finding a large huntsman spider lurking behind your towel. That sort of thing.

But then you have things that just have an aura of scariness about them for some odd unknown purpose. To ward off the truly uninterested? Who knows.

Anyway, to any of the elect, knitting without needing to sew it all up afterwards, aka knitting in the round, is not one of those things. But to a mere spring chicken (knittingly speaking) such as moi, it is a kind of unattainable beacon. (Though not, you understand such as one might find at the Castle Anthrax. A real goal). And if knitting a large round thing on one circular needle seems scary, then knitting a small round thing on 4 double pointed needles is downright ridiculously scream-inducing. All those ends for your stitches to fall off! And let’s not mention the fact that you’ll feel like your own knitting is coming at you with a pointed stick. Obviously someone else felt the same way, but really wanted to knit small round things. Like socks say, or wrist warmers. So they very kindly discovered that you could knit small round things on 2 circular needles instead. I don’t know who they were, but I’m very, very grateful to them…

knitting in the round on 2 bamboo circular needles

Hopefully that will end up looking the one at the knitty link above. Only a sort of greeny-grey instead of pinky-purply obviously. And once again, I have the wonderful people (person?) at knittinghelp.com to thank. I think they need a medal.

Oh, and as with any of this knitting stuff, I will eventually face my fear of the double points. I’m just not ready for it.

Yet.

posted to Craftiness,I Like a Challenge @ 9:02

March 3 2008, Monday

And now for something completely different…

Hey, we’re not all philosophy all the time round here. Sometimes we manage to perform amazing feats of stamina, like finally finishing up a certain handknit. Yes, I actually managed to find the black yarn that I was after – Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I eventually found it here, but I’d also really recommend these people. They were very friendly and helpful, just sadly short on black cashmerino aran.

little black jersey

Mmmm hmm. I made that. Let’s take a closer look shall we?

raglan sleeve seam

Yep, I did that too. Tidy little decreases and mattress stitch. In fact, talking of mattress stitch…

side seam

OK, I sound like a complete egomaniac now, but seriously, I always thought I couldn’t knit. I mean, I could keep going until I needed to add another ball in, but then I stopped. So to knit a whole jersey was quite a big thing. I know it’s only a little one, but still. I was so proud of my handiwork that it lay there not being sewn up for fear that I would mess it up with my horrid sewing up skills. Eventually I turned to knittinghelp.com (who incidentally helped me make those tidy increases and taught me how to do cables. Wooo!). After a few tries I managed the lovely, and almost invisible seams you witnessed up there. I think the yarn helped a lot though, it’s quite forgiving, and soooo soft. Anyone who’s handled it will know whereof I speak.

I used the raglan sweater from this book, which I found at my local library. It’s actually the bottom picture on that page. My only complaint really is that it looks a little short. If I was to make it again (and I’d really really like to actually, it was quite fun), I’d maybe add a few centimetres on the bottom. It wouldn’t push you over into needing 5 balls.

posted to Craftiness @ 11:15

February 26 2008, Tuesday

Today I ate my lunch standing up in the kitchen. Shoving corn thins spread with liverwurst down my throat while trying to avoid having my trousers pulled down by the little person who was trying to pull herself up on them. Unfortunately, I can’t reason with her and get her to sit calmly while I stave off hunger and passing out. She doesn’t quite have the mental capacity to understand that she may have to wait for what it is she needs sometimes. And I tend to feel guilty when I do make her wait.

Her moaning gets more insistent and then she collapses in tears when she realises that instead of feeding her I’m going to change her nappy because if I don’t, we’re going to have a leak on our hands. Why should she care about that? I don’t talk while I’m changing her because I don’t feel like I have anything useful to say. I’m tired, and I don’t understand why she hasn’t had a nap before now, when clearly she needs to rest. And then when the nappy change is over I pick her up and instead of resting her head against me in relief like you see in all soppy baby product commercials, she carries on being upset and wriggling. I don’t often get to just hold my baby girl in my arms while she quietly rests against me.

After washing my hands I put her down to feed her, and it takes a while before she’s settled. A while of waving her arms and legs, pummeling me with her little fists and grabbing at me. No little hands gently cupped against mummy like all the books on breastfeeding say. Eventually, the much needed sleep takes her over and then I have to extract myself from her still-sucking mouth. No waiting til she lets go – she doesn’t seem to believe in that.

And now I’m left with the distinct feeling that I’m just not cut out for this. I shouldn’t be a mother. I shouldn’t be in charge of a little person. I’m barely in charge of myself, let alone another being who is dependent on me to guide her to adulthood without screwing her up.

I’ve been reading a book. One of the things it asks is why people don’t talk about what happens when you become a mother. How it turns your world upside down, how you can undergo an identity crisis, how great the difference between being a parent and not being a parent really is. One of my theories is that people don’t really tell you because it’s necessary for the survival of the species that you don’t completely know what you’re letting yourself in for. I thought I had some idea of what parenting would be like. Thought I could imagine the tiredness and frustration. But I really had no clue whatsoever. Looking at it from this side, I don’t believe that it’s possible to completely grasp what it’s like. And had I known, I might have been scared off.

And that’s the thing. If people without children were consistently told stories like the one above in order to prep them for parenting, they may never have any children. If they really understood the depths of frustration and despair to which it is possible to sink, they would pat themselves on the back for a lucky escape and go and buy a poodle instead.

But then they’d never know.

They’d never know the sheer delight of seeing your child’s face beaming at you as you come down the corridor in the morning. The smiles that light up the whole room, just because you came into view. The giggly excitement generated by the knowledge that you’re about to feed them. The outstretched arms for you to snuggle into. The feel of the small body warmly nestled against yours. The look of sheer joy at mastering a new skill that you’ve taken for granted so many years. The bond that creates a love that at times feels almost unbearable.

As with so much of life, nothing truly worth having comes without cost and/or pain. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the cost is directly proportional to the worth. People don’t always talk about the rough parts of parenting (at least not to those already in the know, as it were), but playing down the bad bits somehow plays down the good bits too.

I thought I had some idea of what parenting would be like. But I really had no clue whatsoever.

It’s harder. Much harder. And much more amazing than anyone can prepare you for.

posted to Parenting @ 14:42

February 22 2008, Friday

Parenthood lesson #12

If you hear your daughter’s door open and shut, it might be the wind. If it opens and shuts a few times in a row, it’s probably not. If you don’t hear your daughter making a noise, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s not awake, and up to something. You should probably check on her soon. If you choose to leave her for a bit because she’s not making a grumpy noise (and you’re trying to get the dishes finished), you might well find that she’s doing something that you’d rather she didn’t. For instance, you might find that she’s managed to get the waterproof cover off her cloth nappy, and is sitting on the floor, sans nappy, chewing on said cover. If at this point you whip her off the floor and put another nappy on her, she’s probably not going to thank you for it. Just so you know.

And thus we learn what generations of parents have already discovered – a quiet baby is often more worrying than a noisy one.

posted to Little 'e',Parenting @ 16:55

February 7 2008, Thursday

Seriously, it’s only a teapot

To me, this is the most beautiful teapot in the whole world…

teapot and cosy

Mostly I think it’s because it’s mine, and I’ve had it since I was at university (hmm, nearly 9 years it must be). Also, because it’s that friendly round real teapot shape. And it’s white. I like the idea of being able to see when the inside is needing a clean. Same with mugs really. I like them white inside.

Anyway, there is a slight problem with the teapot:

cracks in teapot

One day, probably a bad day I’m guessing, I put the teapot down just a little too hard for it’s liking. At first I thought it would be ok, but you can see where the tea is seeping into the hairline fractures. Sooner or later it’s going to fall apart methinks. A new teapot needs to be procured. Problem is, I can’t just merrily wander into Boardmans and get a replacement that looks just like this one. It’s a bit far to go. And all the plain white teapots I’ve looked at here are just not right, even if they are round. So I searched on ebay and found a couple that I might grow to appreciate, but I’m still not sure about them. One is just the right shape, but is dark brown. The other is a cream art deco kind of thing. I felt that maybe something completely different would make up for not being able to get one exactly the same but I just can’t decide.

The fact is that I’m probably not going to really like any other teapot, because it’s not my old one. And why I should feel so strongly about a piece of crockery is beyond me. I mean, it’s just for putting tea in, right? It shouldn’t really matter.

But it does.

Sigh.

posted to Chez snugger,Mysteries of Life @ 13:31

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