Saturday, 29 December 2007

The Easy Life

Ah, don't you just love it when you can roll over in the morning, reach for the camera, snap off a shot of dawn like the one above, and then roll back over for another few hours sleep!

I didn't even have to get out of bed for that photo!

After Christmas in Hobart, we took a few days holiday on the East Coast of Tas, and that was the view from our room. Spectacular.

The day before, we had a little snorkel at the beach in the picture below. It's just a tiny cove just south of Spikey Beach, which is, of course, near the Spikey Bridge.

The water was a bit cold, as it usually is in Tas - we would have had hypothermia without our full length wetties.

Oh, you want to know what the Spikey Bridge is? Well, it's a convict built one, from 1830? 1840? I should have paid more attention to the information board. Doh.

And now you can see why it's called Spikey Bridge.

And yes, there has been knitting, even while away, even in the hot weather. No photos yet.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Our Kind Of Christmas

I'm not a Christmassy sort of person. The whole fuss just leaves me disgusted, especially when Christmas stuff appears in stores in September.

A colleague asked, well, what DO you do for Christmas? Do you celebrate it at all?

Given a choice, I would just lie on a beach somewhere and ignore the whole thing.

But, yes, my extended family does have a get-together. My mum lives near Hobart, so every year we have to travel (I hate that). For a couple of years, I rebelled, and we travelled, but in an opposite direction! Once overseas, and the next year interstate.
I don't think we've been forgiven yet.

We have a buffet Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, my mum being European; it's their tradition. Each family group brings food - my sis makes to-die-for pavlovas, my sis-in-law makes pate and curried eggs and brings fresh raspberries, we bring the ham and chickens, and mum makes a lovely trifle. The ham is served both hot and cold, some of it being baked and some carved off before.

There's also salads, potato salad, pasta salad, lots of gourmet cheeses, several kinds of salami, smoked oysters, strawberries, asparagus, avocado, cherries, and more, much more!

There's wine and beer, and champagne, and Baileys Irish Cream.

It's certainly not the traditional turkey-and-plum-pudding kind of Christmas dinner, but we like it, and it works for us.

There's always heaps of left-overs, and it's become a favourite tradition (vice???) for me to have trifle for breakfast on Christmas morning.

We usually exchange gifts before dessert.

Some time ago I let it be known that I didn't really want any more "stuff". That's been ignored, of course. I must confess to not really minding the gift vouchers.

And for my part, I have instigated something a bit different for the gifts I give. I have set up a book lucky-dip. During the year, I buy up books when I see them, in trade paperback size. My family has similar enough tastes that this usually works quite well. It's a mix of SF/fantasy, detective and crime, thrillers, historical, humerous (eg Jasper fford) and so on. They are all wrapped the same and each person gets to pick one.

The rules are:
if they don't like the book, they can see if someone else wishes to swap. It must be mutual - no coersion! (it's quite amusing to watch how "persuasive" some family members can be!)
if they can't find anyone willing to swap, they can do ONE swap with the spares in the kitty (there's always several spares). They then have to accept the swapped book. No second swaps with the kitty.

The spares have also proved useful for unexpected brought-along guests, who also get a turn.

It's gone down very well each year - everyone seems to really enjoy it!

But surprisingly, the person I thought would be most flexible, my brother-in-law, is the one who has done the most swaps, and the one who I thought would be fussiest, my sis-in-law, has said "It's not what I would ever have picked off a shelf to read, but I'll give it a go." That's the spirit!

After gift-giving, we have dessert and play a game like Scattergories or Pictionary or similar. This is usually a riot! The kids are now all over 21, and we just have a ball.

Christmas Day is usually spent with the other branches of our respective families.

So, not your traditional or conventional Christmas, but it's ours.

I hope yours is everything you hope it will be.


Friday, 21 December 2007

In The Pink

The domino effect continued. Who could believe that one small change would lead to so many others?
So, I now have the new chest of drawers, flower arrangement, and curtains.

Then the old rug just had to go! It was just a small one, in an aztec-southwest sort of pattern in blue, green and tan - a left-over from another time and place.. It didn't go, so it had to go!

I've replaced it temporarily with a brown and white small rug (more mat size) that almost looks knitted. Admittedly giant stitches on jumbo needles, but feasible. Must take a photo...

It isn't necessarily the final choice, but it's way better than the aztec.

And no, Cindy, my dear, I didn't knit a toilet - it would leak! (hehehe)
Nor a toilet seat cover (shudder)

But (hangs head and blushes) this is almost as bad.

It's a soap dispenser cover.

You see, once I'd changed the colour scheme with those pink floral and feminine curtains, the blue liquid soap and its blue-topped dispenser just looked so wrong.
I guess I could have just replaced it with a more compatible one, but that would be wickedly wasteful. And too easy - where's the challenge in that?

I found a stitch pattern I wanted to try, from my ancient Mon Tricot stitch dictionary. They've called it Fishtail 2, but Barbara Walker calls it Horseshoe.

It's the first lace pattern I've tried. I've knitted plenty of stuff with holes, but they were unintentional, and definitely not decorative.

I had about three of four starts - first to establish gauge, then to work the purls the way ordinary folk do. You see, I have a strange knitting style; it's given a name these days, "combination" but I'm not sure I even do that the way others do.

The wonderful Toni, referred to as The Bionic KnitterWoman by Cindy, helped me identify how and why my knitting isn't standard, and it seems to be the way I wrap the yarn to form a purl stitch. The knit stitch (knit into the back, which is the 'leg' closest to the needle tip) uncrosses the stitch, so I don't have unintentional twisted stitches.

I haven't mended my wicked ways - I like the way I knit.

HOWEVER, there are consequences. One of these is yarn-overs don't work the way they should. My stitch-forming closes up the holes!

SO, I have to try to knit "properly" in order to do lace. I keep forgetting. Old habits...

I'm not convinced I've got it right yet. The first needle size I tried gave a too-loose effect, and it was all holes - the decorative holes got lost. The smaller needles worked better, but the holes still seem to be less 'holey' than the dictionary illustration.

I may have kept notes, somewhere, and there is possibly a ball band to identify the yarn - it may have had cotton in it, but I could be just making that up. It is pink - PINK. Heh. What's next? Twin-set and pearls?

I managed to finish the piece, and here it is cosily covering the dispenser, hiding all the hideous blue soap. I also obliterated the blue colour of the dispenser top with lavish layers of nail polish (it sticks to plastic better than paint does).

What's next? A knitted tissue-box cover?

Sunday, 9 December 2007

I Plead Temporary Insanity

Yes, m'Lud, there can be no other explanation.
It was clearly a case of Dominos. And it started like this.

Mr M and I went on holiday in September; we drove down the East Coast from Brisbane to Sydney (then a quick dash down to Melbourne).
We were looking for an ideal place to retire to - near the beach, views of waves, interesting coastline with snorkelling spots, not too cold in winter.

We found plenty of spots - now all we need to do is find the $5.5 million to buy one!

But that thought of moving led to other thoughts (such as arson as a redecorating technique). The thought of packing all our stuff is a major disincentive. Mr M is a big-time hoarder, and I do my bit too.

But I had a long hard look at some of the things I would NOT take, and this included several chests of drawers. They were cheap thin pine-and-ply, badly painted in not-nice colours, and second-hard when we got them over 25 years ago. Basically I had just put up with them, because, well, I just used them and learned to ignore how they looked.

So, I figured, why wait till I moved to have nice chests of drawers? So I went on a bit of a shopping spree, and bought four new chests of drawers - two tall-boys, one medium for a bedside (but it's much bigger than the usual bedside table) and a step-shape unit. This is the new home for my yarn.

One of the tall-boys went into the en-suite, where a shower should have been installed, but never was - it's a long story.

Yes, I know, m'Lud, this is a long story too, but I am getting to the point, really I am.

The tall-boy looked so nice, I just had to put a large vase of silk flowers on top of it, to stop it being covered with clothing, as would be inevitable otherwise.

Then the flowers looked so nice, I had to change the curtains.
Here is a pic of the old ones- black-and-white checks. They were recycled from elsewhere, about 22 years ago. The photo doesn't show the silverfish holes!

Fine, so far so good.

I then spent one-and-a-half HOURS looking for suitable fabric at my local store.
None of the ready-made or ready-to-hang stuff had the look I wanted, something to match the new look.

What, m'Lud, this all sounds reasonably sane? Well, here's the weird bit - I finally chose a fabric - one with FLOWERS on it.
Now, anyone who knows me knows I am not a flowers-and-lace kind of person. Plain, simple, or maybe bold and dramatic, but frilly girly stuff just isn't me.

It must have been temporary insanity - and it gets worse!

I swagged the curtain, and then put more silk flowers up on the curtain rod!And then, threaded beads onto the tie-backs!
And I like it, I really like it!

What's this all got to do with knitting? Well, that's for the next post...