Thursday, 31 January 2008

B Is For Brunswigia

This beauty flowers in mid-March, but the letter “B” is now, so these are from last year.

The Brunswigia (often spelt Brunsvigia) is originally from South Africa. A mature bulb can be as big as a football. They can be quite expensive – I’ve seen prices up to $100 for one bulb.

You can find out more about Brunwigias over here. I'd love to know if anyone else is growing them.

They can take up to 14 years to flower from seed, and can sulk for seven years after being moved or transplanted.

It’s worth the wait.

This one flowered for us for the first time last year. It was a gift from a mad keen fellow gardener. RIP Alan D, one of Nature’s true gentlemen. You are remembered, especially when the Brunswigias flower.

B is also for Baby Brunswigias.

These seedlings are from seeds I collected from a different flower from the pink one above. Yes, we have two. I harvested twenty seeds, and nineteen germinated. That’s a pretty good strike rate. Now, if I can just keep them alive (and myself!) for the next fourteen years, to see them flower.

Gardeners have to be long-lived, to see what comes up!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

B Is For Booties

These are, of course, the famous Saartje’s booties.

How could anyone look at these and not want to knit them? 1221 projects, in 1868 queues of Ravelry knitters would agree with me, and that doesn’t count the non-Ravelry knitters who have knitted them. It was quite rightly voted a “Bobby” for best free pattern.

I knit these because I just had to. They’re not for a grandchild, not yet anyway.

Mr M & I are a ‘blended family’ with three boys, a ‘his’, a ‘hers’ and an ‘ours’. The ‘his’ is married, divorced and two school-aged children. The ‘hers’ is married with no signs of imminent children, but that may happen once they return from five years overseas. The ‘ours’ doesn’t have a girlfriend (or a boyfriend). So, no grandchildren to knit for. But when they come, I’ll be ready!

The yarn I used is Cleckheaton Merino Bambino.
Booties with a knitted teddy friend. I didn't knit him - I'm not sure where he came from - maybe my mum knitted him.

This photo shows a bootie I knit more than two decades ago. I don’t know why there’s only one or what happened to the other. I know I didn’t use a pattern, just knit it to the shape I wanted, and sewed it to a sheepskin sole (fluffy side inside of course). The wool has felted a bit, so I know it’s been worn, and washed.

And this photo shows another Saartje’s bootie, this time knitted in a self-striping cotton. For some reason, I really didn’t like how it knitted up. I only knitted one.

It seemed too big, particularly the height. This may be because I had just finished the other ones. I used the same needles and stitch numbers, but it cams up bigger. It may have been all right if I had had a tame baby to try it on and see if it really was too big.

But, I’ve ripped it. I may re-knit it down the track, but next time I would pay more attention to where the colour changes start, and put the dark blue at the sole and the light blue at the top.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

B Is For Beaches

Spiky Beach, East Coast, TAS

I love the beach, oceans, water and waves. Just drop me off at a beach in the morning (with some shade and some food, of course) and pick me up at sunset, and I’ll have had a perfect day.
Here is a beach we actually did get to have a swim at
on our generally cold September holiday. Forster, NSW

The eastern-most beach we've been to -
Wategos, just below Byron Bay lighthouse

I can watch the waves all day. Their individuality fascinates me. Their formation, cresting, then tumbling. How each waves is different while still recognisably part of a pattern. How the inner lift of water can show the sea floor. That incredible moment when the water arches over just before gravity wins.
Western-most beach we've been to -
Cape Naturaliste, W.A. Those waves were huge!

I like to watch surfers. I admire their skill. They also give scale to the size of a wave. And they give a legitimate excuse for watching waves. If you just watch waves, well, you’re a bit barmy, right? But if you watch surfers, well, that’s okay because it’s following a sport!

I like to walk along the beach, idly beachcombing, seeing what treasures the waves washes up, and just as quickly reclaims.

I get impatient with sunbathing (besides, I boil like a lobster, and it’s dangerous!) and I don’t always feel the urge for a swim. I love to snorkel, if the opportunity presents itself. My ambition is to snorkel somewhere where the water is warm enough to not wear a wetsuit, but without the dangers of stingers & jellyfish.

Coolangatta Beach, Queensland
While this isn't the most northerly beach I've been to, it's the only photo I had.

It's from our September trip, and the weather was lousy. We still went walking on the beach. Beaches. All of them. Between Brisbane and Sydney. Oi.

I want to live by the beach, on a small cliff (to keep my place safe from rising sea levels from global warming); but the way the property prices are, I don’t think I ever will. So, I visit, and take lots of photos.

One of the most southerly beaches we've been to on mainland Australia
- Castle Beach, near Cape Otway, VIC.
Wilsons Promontory is probably further south. It's on our 'must visit' list.

Monday, 28 January 2008

B Is For Books

I love books. How could ‘B’ go by without mentioning books!

I read prolifically and quickly. A standard novel might take me about three days. I usually have many books stacked around my feet, and I have several on the go at one time (bit like my knitting, come to think of it). *

*This is all pre-knitting. Knitting (and Ravelry!) has severely chomped into my reading time. Except for knitting books – seem to find time for those!

There is no predicting what will take my fancy to read, but it often relates to what’s going on in my head or my hobbies at the time.

The range of subjects is really diverse and wide-ranging. For fiction, I like Science Fiction/Fantasy and speculative fiction, historicals, who-dunnits (how come that ungrammatical phrase is acceptable?) murder mysteries, thrillers and so on.

The non-fiction is harder to categorise. Here’s my own little “ABC-Along” of some of the (mostly non-fiction) topics:

Architecture; & Art Deco

Boat Building; & Bear Making

Calligraphy; & Cooking

Dragons; & Dictionaries

Escher; & Explorers

Floral Art; & Flash Animation

Geography; Geology; & Grammar

Heraldry; & History

Illusions; Imaginary Worlds; & Illustrated Grays Anatomy (the medical text, not the TV series)


Kite Making; & Knitting (of course!)

Leadlight; & Languages

Macrame; & Maps; & Myths and Legends

Nostalgia; & Nursing

Oceans; & Oscar Wilde

Plants; & Photoshop

Quotations Dictionaries

Repairs and Restorations; & Royalty

Shakespeare; & Sewing; & Stanley Gibbons Stamps

Thesaurus; & Travel Guides (Lonely Planet)

Understanding Children; & University Textbooks


Writing; & World Atlases; & Web Design

Xanth (Piers Anthony series)


Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Sunday, 27 January 2008

A Is For Australia Day

We celebrated Australia Day in our typical Australian fashion:
Visitors round for lunch - ham, cheese & tomato melted onto ciabatta, with avocado;
then a trip to a bayside beach, a little bit of snorkelling - saw the usual toadfish, many silvery little fishies, starfish, sea urchins and a beautiful grey-purple stingray - a small one, only about 40 cm across;
then a relaxed evening meal at the nearby cafe - king prawns & salad, greek dips and sourdough*;

while being treated to a spectacular lightshow put on by mother nature - lightning, rain squalls moving across the Bay, godrays and orange sunset skies;
then watched the Australia Day fireworks in the distance while we sipped coffee. They used the top of the Eureka Building (Melbourne's tallest) as a platform for some of the fireworks - spectacular!

*Australia's multiculturalism has its ugly side, for sure, but I love what it has done for local cuisine. And in typical Aussie fashion, cooks and chefs happily mix and match elements from all cultures. I love it. I can remenber as a child being thought of as really weird because I had salami sandwiches for lunch.

We didn't have a barbeque - it's not compulsory. On the way home, the Nylex sign showed the temperature at 10.00pm was still 27 C.
It was a lovely day.I reckon Australia is the best country in the world!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

ABC-Along A Is For Anarchist

It's only the first letter of the ABC-Along, and already I've broken the rules!

The idea of the ABC-Along, as found here on Ravelry, is to "post a photo to their blog and/or the Flickr group every two weeks to correspond with a letter of the alphabet. Photos can be related to fiber, but do not have to be; they should reflect the personality of the photographer, and something of importance or meaning to them."

Apparently, the intent was it should be limited to ONE post on that letter, containing ONE image that best represents it for you, as in this clarification from the moderator's blog: "ETA: My intent – what I had in my mind – was ONE well-chosen THING and ONE well-chosen PHOTO to represent each letter; possibly several other photographs to illustrate and explore that thing, but not TWENTY different things for each letter. Choosing only one subject forces one to think and be disciplined. What is the BEST representation of YOU for a given letter? What is the best way to portray it, frame it, shoot it?"

Already I have broken that 'rule', with two posts, and now three, for "A"!

Well, I signed up for this because I was hoping the structure and discipline would help prompt me and push me to post more on my blog.

So, I will post more for each letter, as they inspire me - because that then is the best representation of me. Multi-faceted. Anarchic. Undisciplined. Unable to follow rules. Yeah - I don't think I've ever followed a knitting pattern exactly the way it was written, either.

I'm doing some colourwork using a chart I made from scratch, and I don't even follow that!

Besides, this blog was meant to be knitterly, and the things that best represent me wouldn't necessarily be knitterly. I've done a lot of things before I took up knitting fairly recently. So I will try to post at least one knitterly thing per letter, as well as the thing that best represents me, if that isn't knitting.

And if I get 'expelled', so be it!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A Is For Anniversary

Mr M prepares lunch

A Is For Anniversary

On New Year’s Eve, Mr M and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. Despite that, we’re still best friends!

We packed a picnic esky and went down to the beach. We had a glorious lunch, complete with champagne and peeled grapes (he DOES spoil me!) after an exploring walk around the rocks.

The beach tent was essential so our salad didn’t fry!

Then we had a swim in the warm shallows, but not a snorkel – it was quite windy and the water was churned up and cloudy.

Ice-creams on the way home at dusk rounded out a beautiful day.

Later that night, we stood outside and watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the distance.

Not your usual anniversary dinner-and-red-roses deal, but it’s what we like.

Each year we take it in turns to come up with something to do to celebrate – this year it was my turn.

Come to think of it, nothing happens on the years that it isn’t my turn. It’s not that Mr M forgets; he’s actually very good at remembering - it’s just that he asks “What do you want to do?” It’s supposed to be a surprise. Duh.

Sometimes his customary consultative approach just doesn’t work.


Maybe next year …

A Is For Architecture

Roof ridge detail, Melbourne

I've joined up with the ABC-Along on Ravelry.
I'm hoping it will spur me on to post to my blog a bit more frequently.

My "A" is for Architecture. I've been interested in architecture since third year high school. We were given a project to do for Art class, which was to design a room in a house. I did a bedroom, with a wrap-around desk-cupboard-drawers arrangement, and then made a 3-D model of it in cardboard, with teeny tiny cloth curtains.

I've been doodling with house designs ever since.

Mr M and I designed and built our house. It mostly works, in terms of passive solar energy. Where it doesn't work is where we had to compromise because of cost. Sigh.

I like the quirkyness of these witches' hat rooves.

There's quite a few of these around my local suburb
- it must have been the HOT style of its period.

I like the architecture of pre-Modern styles best - very little modern stuff appeals, and Federation Square (Melb) is an abomination - all style just for the sake of being controversial and no substance.

Lovely wooden verandah posts is Melbourne.
The verahndah has an equally lovely tessellated paving floor.

That's not to say I don't like ornamentation - I do, and love the almost frivolous nature of some of it. I particularly like Art Deco.
Beautiful tuckpoint multi-colour brickwork, in Melbourne.

I've already done a couple of posts about some architectural delights I have come across, here and here.

Look up, look up! Above verandah height, and see what's there.
Merchant's building in Fremantle - glorious dome!

Victorian lacework verandahs in Melbourne

No doubt there will be more architectural photos on my blog - I could fill pages and pages with them!