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Non-stop

So, it’s still dark at 6.30am. I know this because a child who I sometimes describe as The Legend decided to wake up at 5.40am and nothing was going to get him back to sleep. I know I shouldn’t complain (and I’m not really) as many parents are up with their kids at that time every day. They are no doubt smarter than me and go to bed a lot earlier than I do. I think there’s a lesson there somewhere…

On the upside, it’s given me a little extra time at the start of my day to write a post on this sadly neglected blog. So much to catch up on.

For his first birthday, I made Connor a vest, so I thought I’d better do the same for Harry. But a summer birthday doesn’t really lend itself to knitwear, so I decided on a pattern which should, I hope, fit him for some time. I even used yarn which I had specifically bought to make something for Harry.  

(Sorry for the blurriness) – how does something this small fit my large (yes, he is a big boy!) child?

Like this:  

That ribbing, it’s REALLY stretchy! This is the Non-Stop Top, and is actually the 2-4yo size! More details on Ravelry.

 (I will just say this – I used a gradient dyed yarn which looked much better in the ball…if I was to have my time again, I would stripe it against itself, which would have been much better. Not to worry…)

In other news, the Sydney Royal Easter Show starts this week. For those who enter the Arts and Crafts competitions, there is a preview night before the Show officially opens. A great opportunity for a sneak preview, especially if you have entered items in the competition…which I did! After battling peak hour traffic in the rain for over an hour, I finally arrived to discover I’d won two Second prizes! One for Harry’s Starburst Afghan, in the Tunisian crochet category:  

and the other for my Convergence Top, in the Adult or Child Garment category: 

 

I finished it two days before entries had to be delivered. To discover that it only just fits me…so adjustments will need to be made when I get it back from the Show! I will tell you more about it then.

I really didn’t expect to win anything, so these were a lovely surprise.

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The year of The Legend

It’s been three months since my last post…woops!

It’s been a busy time and I have fallen dreadfully behind in the blogging world, both with my own blog and reading the adventures of my blog friends – sorry everyone.

So in those last three months I’ve been knitting and crocheting, as usual. I have a backlog of projects to update. I’ll get there, eventually.

But today. Well, today, this little Legend is one.

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ONE! Can you believe it? I can’t!

It has been an amazing year. We call him The Legend because, well, he is! Most easy going delightful baby ever, sleeps like a legend, eats like a legend, has the most infectious giggle and reminds us daily of how lucky we all are. He loves his daddy, loves his big brother, and we all love him very much. At the risk of sounding like a total and utter cliche, he completes us.

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Ribbons galore!

I have been quieter on the blog than I meant to be over the last couple of months. The main reason is because for most of January, all of February and early March I was madly crocheting on my entries for the Royal Easter Show (like the State Fair in the US, not sure of equivalents elsewhere). In fact, until the entries were submitted (on 8 March) I had done NO KNITTING since early January! Amazing!

Something that a lot of online knitters (and to a lesser extent, crocheters) have bemoaned is the quality and especially number of entries in the knitting and crochet classes at the Show. The knitting has improved over the last few years, but I thought the crochet was still a bit lacking. So I decided I would finally enter, after having only thought about it previously. I obviously wasn’t the only one to think this, as there seemed to be a lot more entries this year! Yay! I entered three items, one in the Tunisian class, one in blanket/lap rug/afghan and one in shawl using 4ply or thicker yarn.

The Show holds a preview night each year, and this year anyone who entered got a free ticket. And the chance to find out before the Show starts who won ribbons!

And here are my entries (and, I am pleased and excited to say, RIBBONS!)

I got a third for my Hexagons.Grey blanket:

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(Interestingly, the blanket immediately below is the same pattern – interesting how using a different colour palette changes the look of the object entirely!)

I also got a third for my Daisy Doo, in the shawl 4ply or thicker class:

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(The blue one above it was awarded second and the burgundy one on the right came first).

I was really pleased with these, as I hadn’t expected to win at all, I just wanted to bolster up the number of entries. My only slight disappointment is that both of these were displayed wrong side out! But I will contact the RAS and have it fixed.

But I have saved the best for last … I was MOST EXCITED to see a BLUE ribbon on my Tunisian entry:

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My first Tunisian, the Pax scarf by Aoibhe Ni. Beginners luck probably! (I will do separate more detailed posts on the Hexagons Grey blanket and Pax later. Hopefully this month, heh!)

And I am already planning my entries for next year’s Show! I’ve even started one already.

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Some amazing women

As I’ve been browsing blog posts and twitter this morning, I’ve been reminded that today is International Women’s Day.

And it seems like a good day to share this story, although this is not the post I was hoping to write about this subject.

For around five wonderful weeks I knew I was pregnant. I did the pee test (I did four!). I had the blood test. I booked in with my obstetrician. I booked the hospital. We even bought a new (bigger) car! (Well, we needed to do that anyway, we just did it a bit sooner). I was surprised and so happy. I never really thought I would have a sibling for Connor, but I always hoped. And just when I had really come to accept it wouldn’t happen, it did. Or at least, it seemed to.

But it was not to be. I had my first appointment and scan with my OB on Wednesday, and my little baby’s heart was not beating. It was late in the afternoon but she phoned around various specialist ultrasound clinics until she found one that could see me straight away, just to be sure. And it was sure.

So I had a trip to hospital yesterday morning and now I’m feeling a bit sore and sorry for myself, but I’m ok. Surprisingly so, really. I suppose a part of me always thought that a second miracle was too good to be true.

But you know, that’s not really what I wanted to focus on with this post. It was an awful thing and one that I wish no person had to experience, but which I know is so common. But if it has to happen, I feel so lucky and know I am so privileged to have it happen in the way I experienced it. Thanks to so many amazing women (and my amazing husband) who have helped and are helping me through it.

My lovely OB. Funny how so many people still assume a doctor must be a man. She felt she did a bad job telling me the result of the scan, but her slight awkwardness really demonstrated to me that she cared, that it was difficult for her too, and that she wasn’t treating me as a number. It must be a difficult balance, as a doctor, to be compassionate but also professional, to deal with the medical issues as well as the emotional ones.

The ultrasound technician, who must hate delivering such news, but who was very kind and gentle.

The registered nurse who did my hospital admission the next morning. I could not have asked for a gentler, more empathetic person.

The nurse who looked after me in the short stay ward, another fantastic caring kind person who is a credit to her profession.

(I must also mention the anaesthetist, even though he’s a man, heh heh. He was very kind too, although he lost points for basically telling me I was a wimp when he put the needle in my hand! I probably was, but he didn’t need to tease me!)

My mum, who was so devastated but who took on the task of telling all my brothers, and my mother in law, who looked after Connor for us and who cooked a mountain of food so we didn’t have to worry about cooking last night or possibly even tonight as well!

My wonderful friends. Thank you xx

So many amazing women, who made such a personally devastating experience so much easier to bear. Such excellent examples of how we, as people (not just women) should treat each other all the time.

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DIY Month: Washing Powder

Something I’ve been wanting to try for a while is home made washing powder.  Not because I’m unhappy with commercial powders, per se, more because I wonder if it would be cheaper and better for the environment than “chemical” based commercial powders.  I’ve seen a few recipes on blogs, and the easiest one uses pure soap, washing soda and borax.  I collected my ingredients, including a new grater for the soap (not wanting to use the same grater as I use for food!), but borax is not easy to find!

I finally found some (at a less upmarket supermarket which is not particularly convenient to shop at for me) (I think it is relatively easy to find at hardware stores though), and having finished the last of my powder, it was time to make my own, using this recipe.

What the blogs I read don’t seem to mention is how HARD it is to grate soap!!  This particular recipe needs 4 cups of grated soap – which equates to 2 cakes of sunlight soap.  Ugh.  That is a LOT of grating – I didn’t time myself, but it took at least half an hour, I think.  And 2 cups of borax, which is the whole tub (now will have to hunt down some more, heh!).

The blogs also don’t mention that it’s a good idea to make this stuff in a well-ventilated area.  It’s a bit smelly, and the borax and washing soda is very fine, so if you pour or stir it, it sends up a bit of a dust mist.  It did get up my nose just a bit, but not in such a way to trouble me.  I guess even though the ingredients are natural does not mean they can’t be a bit toxic!  (and in any event, borax is not good for gardens, so if you use your grey water for the garden, then don’t use this recipe!)

As for cost, it made about 1.2kg of powder, at a cost of approx 6.80 (whereas my usual washing powder is around $11.50/kg – although I usually buy it on sale if I can!). So it definitely is more economical – f you don’t factor in the the time you need to make it. One load uses 2 tabsp, which is less than a full scoop of my usual powder.

I did my first load using it today and am quite happy with it.  I would definitely make it again. Maybe next time I will grate the soap over the course of a few days.  It might make a good “punishment” for bigger children, heh!  Just make sure they don’t eat it – Connor was quite convinced it was cheese!

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DIY month: Socks

Well, it wouldn’t be DIY month without a bit of knitting, now would it!  It was husby’s birthday earlier this month, and about 6 weeks ago I realised I had this sock WIP for him that I really should turn into an FO. I was still knitting the gussets on the first sock, so I set myself a bit of a challenge. But (funnily enough) it is amazing how much progress you can make when you are a monogamous knitter! I finished them with two days to spare!

Details

Pattern:  Just my regular plain sock recipe for husby – 72 stitches on 2.25mm sticks – I find the tighter gauge works well for his socks, as he is a bit harder in them than I am.  1×1 twisted rib cuff (because I like the way it looks!). A standard heel flap construction and wedge toe.

Yarn: Yarntini self-striping sock in Ginger Ice – I pulled out a bunch self-striping yarns for husby to choose from, all the awhile secretly hoping he’d choose this one. And he didn’t disappoint! It kind of amuses me, as people often say how much they like this particular combination of colours, whereas I am not actually that fond of it. Lucky husby really liked it!

Sticks: 2.25mm KnitPicks options fixed circular – I do like to magic loop my plain socks!

Time: 6 April – 4 October 2012

And for those interested in this yarn and more specifically how it wears, here is a pair of socks I made for myself in 2008.

I’m not particularly hard on my handknit socks, and I have about 10 or 12 pairs to choose from, so they don’t get heaps of wear, but aside from a bit of felting on the bottom of the heel and toe area, and some pilling, I think they have held up pretty well. Hopefully husby’s will do the same!

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Things that make me happy

I’m home alone for a few hours and have just spent the last two hours doing housework – washing, hanging out washing, ironing, more washing, folding clothes, picking up toys, tearing recipes and knitting patterns out of magazines so I can throw them out, taking out the recycling, and did I mention more washing?

And despite all of this, the house looks pretty much the same as it did two hours ago! Gah! So I’m having a nice cup of tea and sharing a few things that make me happy (because housework sure isn’t one of those things!)

My collection of perle 8 thread – look at these lovely little jewels!

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(I think I am addicted to buying these!)

Some new knitting tools:

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The large and small ball holders were bought at the Berry Markets the last time we were there, and the upright one on the right came all the way from Germany via a group order on Ravelry (with complimentary yarn samples!). It spins like a dream!

Debbie Bliss Andes yarn – OMG this yarn is amazing – a 65/35 alpaca/silk blend. I taught a flower motif crochet scarf class at Calico & Ivy last week, and the shop sample (not made by me) used this yarn, so I used it during the class – my first time using it – and it is GORGEOUS! Slips through the fingers like butter on a hot day! And such gorgeous colours. Half the fun of the class was helping the students choose their colours. Such amazing colour combinations.

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These cute cross stitch wooden decorations:

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I bought these from Berry as well, I thought they’d make great Christmas decorations. even though sewing is really not my thing, I think these will be fun to make.

Lastly, a drawing from Connor. I was cooking the other day and he took himself off to his little table and chairs and did some drawing. It’s a bit light, but can you tell what it is?

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He brought it over to me at the kitchen bench and I asked him what it was, and he said “it’s a rainbow”. A rainbow! My rainbow makes me very happy indeed.

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Welcome to my new home!

I’ve been renovating this space for a while, and I’m still not entirely sure I’m happy with it, but one of the good things about WordPress is the ease of changing the “theme” (I know, I’ve done it a few times already!).

But one space we’ve renovated recently which I’m very happy with is our bathroom!

For some unknown reason, the bathroom in our house (the only bathroom, although we do have a spare toilet) had no storage, apart from the small mirror cabinet.  NO STORAGE!  In a family house, that’s just crazy!  So we always intended to re-do the bathroom at some point, but when we discovered the shower was leaking, we decided to bring our plans forward.

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And thank goodness we did – our bathroom guys discovered the floor in the bathroom was chipboard!!  Chipboard!  In a bathroom!  He said we were lucky we didn’t fall through the floor of the shower!  So we went from a leaking shower, no storage, pale blue floor tiles which show ALL the dirt:

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to a lovely new lots of storage, clean, neat bathroom:

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We couldn’t do much with the layout, without spending a fortune redoing the plumbing, but I’m really happy with the space we have, and most especially the storage!  The storage! Six huge drawers and a four door mirror cabinet. 

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Yay for new bathroom and new blogspace.  I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my blogthday!

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I read a book (or three)!

My Roald Dahl fest continues!  Since my last update, I have “read” James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG.

I liked each of them very much, but did ponder what wonders would have fallen upon James if he just hadn’t tripped under the tree!
I have also finished listening to another audiobook which I’ve had on the go for a while.  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson, read by Frances McDormand (who starred as Miss P in a movie adaptation made in 2008).  I wasn’t too keen on the reading at first, but then McDormand grew on me, just as this book did.  I found it delightful!  
I suppose it would be considered a romantic comedy, a fish out of water tale, and not especially earthshattering or controversial. But I really enjoyed it and would recommend it over much of the “chick lit” out there at the moment (not that I’ve read much of that, but in comparison, this book doesn’t make you feel like you are cheating on all the “good” books you should be reading instead!).

And in case you were wondering, the pictures are of the current books on my (not literally) bedside table – all birthday gifts!  Thanks to Jody, Lyn and DrK.  I do love a knitting book! So many possibilities!

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Important Things

On the weekend, I came by one of these:

A folca box! Prized possession of knitters (and no doubt other crafters who need to carry around a multitude of little bits and pieces).

It’s a neat little fold-out plastic container with a storage spot for everything – stitch markers, folding scissors, beaded row counter, darning needles, safety pins, cable needles, locking stitch markers, cable ends and pin and point protectors.

And what makes it even more charming is the note on the outside, which you is a bit difficult to read in the photo above:

If it always has folca
an important thing
will not forget

But of course this isn’t important at all – it’s a cheap luxury (is that an oxymoron?!) that I’m lucky to have. The news at the moment is all about the horrific earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear disaster in Japan. The horror of it all … words fail me.

As always, knitters do what the best of them do best – try to help by donating items, time, money and profits. If you are minded, there are lots of ways to help, the Red Cross being an excellent one. With winter coming along, you might need a new hot water bottle cover (like me) or a little hat or other gift – my blog friend Linda is donating all profits from sales in her etsy shop to the Red Cross. Or you might like a new knitting pattern – I found this one on Ravelry yesterday and have in mind to knit it for a friend going through a difficult time right now.

I’m sure there are lots of others doing similar fundraising efforts. Because helping and supporting others, especially those in need, really is one of the important things.

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