The leftovers

I rewound this the other day: isn’t it gorgeous?

Alpaca  by you.

It’s bendigo alapaca, 8ply.  Dyed by Emma and bought by me… ages ago.  Probably about two years now.  Which I know is not really that long, as far as stash goes, but considering that I didn’t really know Emma then, and now I can’t really imagine my life without her in it… well, it’s a long time.

I remember the knitting night she brought it to.  I fondled it for about a half hour, before dutifully putting it back in the pile.  And then I thought about it all the way home.  I remember exactly where the bus was when I caved and messaged her to say I’d buy it.

I want to knit Cobblestone with it.  Yes.  Again.  There’s 100gms.  I want to do the yoke and, if I have enough, the cuffs and bottom band, with it.   Anyone know how much yarn those take?

Alpaca by you.

Humble beginnings

I went to the Grates concert on Sunday.  They are my favourite band, I love their music, and they put on such a great show.  It was FANTASTIC!  I had so much fun.  I got home tired and sweaty from jumping around like a lunatic, had a hot hot shower with new soap, got into bed and sprawled.  I was so, so happy that I didn’t have to share my bed with anyone, let me tell you.

We met up for dinner and drinks beforehand.  My friend Anna, my cousin Tessa who I used to live with but haven’t seen for months because she’s a flake, and me.  I pulled out my rogue and knit on it furiously.  Then one of Tessa’s friends and one of HIS friends joined us.

What was I doing?  Was it normal to not have to look at it while I knit?  Was it normal to knit that fast?  What was the chart for?  What do those squiggles mean?  What’s a cable?  Oh… so they’re not, like, embossed on, they’re as you go… so you just keep knitting in a line?

Alpaca by you.

And then we went to the venue.  Unfortunately it was at the local teenage pick-up joint, so everyone had to have their IDs and bags inspected.  The security guard checked my bag and, without blinking, said ‘brought your knitting, I see’.  ‘Yep!’ I answered cheerfully.  Friend of friend made a comment about stabbing people and the guard looked at him like he was stupid.

‘She might get bored’ he said.

Winding arrangement by you.

Do you like my winding setup?  It’s on my stash shelves (LOOK at all those lovely books.  Mmmmmm…)  Problem is, the metal bit that holds the yarn up doesn’t stay up by itself, so you have to hold it.  Combine that with the fact that I don’t have a swift, and you’ve got a good recipe* for one big pain in the bum.  But new ones are so expensive, and seem like such a luxury, since I primarily knit with pre-wound yarn.  I mean… for what you’d pay for a new swift and ball winder, I could buy two jumper’s worth of yarn.  It doesn’t seem like a good deal.

I’ve been doing some gardening.  It was incredible how much more of a home the place felt once I’d got my fingers in the dirt and planted stuff.  According to the numerology of house numbers, my house (8) “Outdoor gardens filled with trees, plants and flowers add to the ambiance of this house.”

Garden bed by you.

See!  Pansies!  Also, mystery bulbs, what I don’t know what they are.  I’ve planted daffodils and tulips in here, but there are also mystery bulbs that I found there when I planted.  I am looking forward to seeing what they turn out to be.  I also planted Grape Hyacinths along the other path.  The bed in the background, with the stump in it, has hollyhocks in teh back, then I think snapdragons but they may be foxgloves, I can’t remember, then marigolds in the front.

Mystery bulbs by you.

Close up of mystery bulbs.  Any opinions?  I almost didn’t plant pansies, because they are my mother’s favourite flower and there are Associations.  But they are so pretty and cheap and so many lovely varieties I decided not to be stupid.

Purple by you.

I love them.  And it makes me really happy to look out of the window in the morning and see them.  Also, notice the wet stuff on them?  That’s RAIN!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!  FROM THE SKY!!!

Morning foods by you.

And finally, here is Pie, in the shiny new hutch that my friend built for them, for which I knit him Habitat.  N00b is hiding in the flappy bit, in this photo, because he’s like that.  Check out that gorgeous morning light, though!

*I always go to type ‘reci-pie’.  That makes much more sense to me.


They may not mean to, but they do


My mother is coming over tonight.  She’s going to radiotherapy every day and she’s staying at our house once a week because technically it’s closer, although counting the fact that she has to go through the city it’s only about 10 minutes closer than her home.


I’ve stopped calling it ‘my parent’s place.  That feels weird.  And since I stopped calling it that, the desire to go back there almost entirely disappoeared.  The way I feel now, if I never went back, I’d feel a bit sorrowful.  But only the way you do when you hear about something bad happening in another country.  It doesn’t feel like it touches me.  It’s the only home I knew until I was 18, and everything that made it a home has gone.  It’s now solely my mother’s territory and I don’t want to go there…  might get forgetful and eat something, and never be able to leave.

I think it’s probably just an excuse to see us.  To force time with us.  Which is understandable, since I’ve been avoiding her.  I like my life without her in it.

Or maybe it’s because it will hurt?  To be back there.  To remember the good stuff and the bad.  And only be left with the bad.  To have the taste of the good, the echo of the love and the fun.  To remember all the times… the time we were bored and he showed us how to catch the moths that were flapping against the windows, trying to get in to the warmth and the light.  We trapped them in jars, carefully, and we then we drew them.  Mine was a cabbage moth, light blue and shimmery green and so delicate.  Careful, don’t touch them… the dust will come off their wings and they won’t be able to fly anymore.

The thing is, it’s not that bad.  Not as bad as I thought it would be, anyway.  The first week was.  I was sitting in the lounge room with her, knitting Habitat.  She started acting the way she does, the way that sets my teeth on edge, that sets every fibre of my being to ‘tense’.  Huffing, puffing, laughing under her breath, trying to get me to ask her what was up, to get attention, validation.  I did what I always do, I shut down, I couldn’t respond.  I ended up giving into impulse and fleeing.  Retreating into my study, sitting in front of the cold blue glow of gchat, trying to gain comfort from my friends and crying because I was terrified to the depths of my soul that that will be me.  That that is inescapably who I will become.

On the way by you.

Catching tadpoles.  Explaining the lifecycle of frogs.  Looking through a microscope – I could never see anything except my own eye.  How many of my memories are of science?  Most of them.  Looking at the stars.  That’s Orion.  There’re the pointers.  Look at the Southern Cross.  The red one is Mars, the bright one is Venus.  Tell me about the face on Mars again?  What does the Centaur of our shared star sign mean?

The next time was both better and worse.  She was sick from the treatment and fell asleep almost as soon as I got home.  She was sick, and tired, and clearly upset.  And I felt… nothing.  I felt upset that another human being was hurting.  But looking at her, at my sick mother, bedraggled from sleeping and wrung out from treatment and from her day, I felt… wary.  Suspiscious.  I felt like I was being played.  I always feel like I’m being played, with her.

Making things together.  Planting things, digging holes.  Hammer and nails.  Hold the spirit level steady, now.  Here’s how you use a saw. 

In January, I was walking to the beach.  I walked past a house, and there was a little girl in the front yard, long blonde hair, holding a dolly under her arm.  The picture of normality.  Bare feet, long skirt.  She was talking to her dad, or maybe her grandad, who was painting the fence.  Asking questions, and he was answering patiently, and with great love.  I didn’t hear what they were saying.  It didn’t matter.  I sobbed all the rest of the way to the beach, tears running down my cheeks, not caring about the passing cars.  Not caring, because I would never ever be able to listen to my father patiently and lovingly explain something to me again.

Last week, the halfway mark.  I cooked dinner.  A risotto.  It was nothing special, but she tripped over herself to praise it.  Obsequious is the word.  I should be thankful that it wasn’t criticism – three years ago it would have been.  But somehow I hate this as much.  Then I put on some podcasts and cast on for Rogue, and we sat in (mostly) silence and knit.  She’s inherited some charity knitting projects from someone in the parish who was also sick and needed something to keep their hands busy.  She thought we spent some quality time together.  I thought I got some good knitting time in.

Two weeks ago I realised that it doesn’t hurt anymore.  Not like it used to.  I’m still sad.  But I’m not devastated.  I expect I will be again in the future, but right now… I’m not.  The stabbing pain is gone.  I still get a start every time someone mentions their father, every time someone says ‘it makes me want to kill myself!’ everytime… everytime millions of little things.  But it isn’t like a stiletto to the heart, a punch to the guts.

Flee by you.

Sunday I rang her.  Mothers day.  That wasn’t why I rang – something needed sorting out about the will.  Did I have a copy?  We chatted for twenty minutes and it was… fine.  It was fine.  It wasn’t the best conversation I had all day, but… it didn’t make me angry, or upset, or tired.  Am I making too much out of everything, then?  Should I just fucking relax and get over myself?  I already feel selfish, withholding a mother-daughter relationship.  What if there is no point to doing that?

A week ago, riding my bike home from work.  Another bike crosses the road a good 50 metres in front of me.  It has a baby seat on the back.  Suddenly I can’t see the road for tears.  My dad had one of those.  He took us on rides.  I remember, dimly, riding behind him with my sister in the seat on the back of his bike.  I remember, more clearly, riding in the Ride Against Want for his work, riding through the hills (I was always scared of being on the road).  He rode to Melbourne and back once, before we were born.  He used to ride an hour’s car ride to work.  I have his old bike pump.  It doesn’t fit my bike. 

She keeps offering to drive me places.  ‘Oh, I can pick you up from work’.  That’s fine.  I don’t need help.  Not from anyone.  And definitely not from you.  I can’t let you be that for me.  I can’t… except today I am.  I’m busing to the shops and then she will meet me there.  I need to do a big shop, and my sister and I have opposite schedules.  And then if I feel like it I might ask her to drive me to Bunnings, and to the pet store, to buy some things that I can’t carry on my bike.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  It no longer seems to be a symbol of anything.  I am sure that it was.  So was I fooling myself then, am I fooling myself now, or has something changed? 

I don’t know.

Macro leaf by you.

I imagine riding behind him now, or in the future.  His grandkids on the back, maybe.  I cry for the lost opportunity, for the future in which I will never get to watch him be a grandfather.  He would have been wonderful.  I think about that man painting the fence.  I think about watching my dad show things to my children, or my sister’s, or even my cousin’s.  Watching him guide small hands, pointing at birds, demonstrating some simple principle with baking powder or water.  I will never get over the pain that I can’t see that.  If I ever have kids, I think, their father’s parents had better be AWESOME.  Because they’ve got nothing from me – I know exactly what kind of grandparent my mother will be, and it won’t be fun for anyone.

Sometimes I wish she was dead.  Not because I want her to die, or to not be alive.  But because that way I would be able to deal with it.  Because this will never stop.  I know that, I know that this back and forth, this tugging inside, wanting things and dreading them, will go on until one or the other of us dies.  I remember times when our relationship was ok.  Never perfect, not even good.  But ok.  What changed?  I have no idea.  Was it me?  I don’t think so, but would I know?  Am I doing the right thing?  Being the bigger person?  Making things harder for myself?  Self sabotaging?  So many questions, so much to consider, every small interaction is a huge deal, even when it’s not.

Last time she was wearing his blue jumper.  The alpaca, King Charles Brocade one that his mother knit him.  The one he was wearing on his birthday.  The one that I see him wearing, whenever I think about him now.  A couple of months ago I had a dream that he was alive again.  But he was wearing the jumper, and it was all rotted and falling apart, hanging off of him in strips.  I woke up in a cold sweat.  I have the Cobblestone that I knit him.  I can’t bring myself to wear it.

I am confused.  I will always be confused.  I want her to go away so that I can lie to myself, make up a story about her and me.  I suppose I will just have find a way to do that with her in the room.

My cousin has this photo up on her mirror in her room, along with ones of her and her girlfriends laughing at their formal, her sisters at the beach… I don’t like to look at these photos.  I hear my mother in my head ‘he looked to happy!’  Am I the only one who thought his smile looked brittle, his cheer a little see-through, his grin perilously close to a rictus?  Or am I projecting that?  I don’t know anymore.  I don’t know what any of my memories mean. 

I just want to get on with my life.  Is there some way we can fast track this, please?

A Flower's Point of View by you.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip LarkinThis Be The Verse

WIPs and FOs

I made a petticoat last night!

I’m having an un-birthday party this Saturday.  I was going to have an afternoon tea party for my birthday, planning it for some time in January.  But what with all the dramas, I really didn’t feel like it at the time.  I was also thinking of having an Alice in Wonderland themed party… just cos.  And since the un-birthday theme falls under that umbrella, I decided to combine the two!  There are a couple other people combining with me, which is nice as it means that the focus is off of me, which I like, and also I don’t have to do ALL the work 😛

So it’s a dress up party, either in high-tea appropriate clothes, or as a character.  I picked the Queen of Hearts since 1) I intend to make some tarts and 2) it’s the only character I felt I could inhabit for more than a half hour without getting irritated.  I mean… Alice might be an obvious choice, but she’s a bit of a whiner for my taste.

When I first started planning the party, I figured I’d make a costume.  There seemed like there was plenty of time then!  I was going to go the whole hog.  But  as time slipped away and life carried on the way it does, I scaled back to the bare essentials.  Petticoat, poofy skirt.

costume by you.

I know, it’s a shite photo.  I took it in a mad dash this morning, because I was DETERMINED to blog it, and who knows when I’ll be free in the daylight again?

I may have gotten a bit carried away with the petticoat.  I made the first layer, and it didn’t look poofy enough, so I added a second.  Now it is SUPER poofy, and since the skirt is just a light artsilk… it’s a bit mental.  I was originally thinking of doing an overskirt thingy, open at the front, and I might need to still so that I don’t freze my delicate buttocks and/or flash someone by accident…

The petticoat was fairly easy, although fiddly.  I had previous practice in working with the tulle and a small amount of proof of concept, because a couple of weeks ago I made a friend a tutu.  Here is the only photo I took of that:

Tulle explosion by you.

I am SUCH a neat crafter…  I must take some good pictures of my crafting space.  I have a WHOLE ROOM.  Well, also for computer.  That’s the computer chair on the right.  You can just see the massive desk on the left.  It is mostly clear, with my sewing machine on one side and space for cutting and measuring on the other.  Please note the heater, which I guiltily used, since I needed my fingers to have sensation, and the ironing board and iron safely on the chair.  Hey, guess what I learnt?  My iron is better at heating up my room than my actual heater!

So, anyway.  What I did for the peticoat was this.  I measured my waist.  Then I cut a strip of lining acetate about ten centimetres wider, and about 20 cm long.  This is the base of the petticoat.  I hemmed it both sides and then folded over about two inches to make a waist band, and sewed that.  I cut elastic to go in there that was about 10cm smaller than my waist.  I didn’t thread it till the end, though.  So now I have a mini mini skirt.

Then I cut a piece of tulle twice the length of this base piece, and 20 cm wide.  I pinned that to the waist bit, and sewed it down.  The gathering is not super consistent, but it’s pretty good.  Then I got a piece of tulle twice the size of the first piece (so four times the base) and pinned them together, and sewed.

At this point I tried it on and it didn’t look very poofy, so I repeated the process.  I think one layer actually would have been fine.  Or else, I should have made the pieces 15cm wide, and done three.  I’m leaving it for now, because I like how mental it looks, but I think I will unpick it after the party.  I think I will actually get some use out of it – I have some skirts and dresses that would look nice poufed up.

And that is how I made the petticoat!

Petticoat by you.

It’s hardly professional (and I still haven’t sewn in all the ends in…) but I think it’s pretty good for what is one of only a handful of actual garments that I have ever made.

For the skirt I used this tute.  The maths turned out perfect.  I was so pleased!  I cut the skirt and made a seperate waist band and put elastic in it.  I started to hem it, but I buggered it up, and I can’t find my frapping quick unpick.  I was having a hissy fit about it until I realised that it was my own damn fault for never putting anything back where it came from, and that it was past 11, which is my official cut off for doing anything that needs attention or decisions.  So I put it down and I’ll go buy another one tonight.  Also, in throwing things around the room looking for it, I found something I searched for for about three hours last week.  So we’ll call it even.

As for knitting, I’m giving my cousin’s Juno a break. 

Juno Regina by you.

It’s a TAD bigger than this now!  I was thinking it looked super long, I musnt’ have much to go… the plan is to knit it until I run out of time (I’m giving myself till the end of August then I need to start the pattern bit) or there is 25g left in the ball.  So I weighed the ball….

90g left.  URGH!  It’s super boring, but not dull enough to not pay attention.  Plus, I think I’ve mucked it up a bit, have the wrong number of stitches in the wrong places.  That isn’t so big a deal, but I need to pay it some attention and get it back on the right track.  Plus, I mentioned the wanting to touch wool again thing.

It’s coming up to Bendigo time again, and I was thinking about what I will be packing.  Last time I’d just finished my CPH, and I wore it the WHOLE time.  I didn’t want to wear it again, buit I don’t have anything similarly warm and practical.  So my mind drifted to the Cascade 220 I’ve had in my stash for… oh, over a year now.  It is bound and dtermined to become Rogue.  And now it is!

Rogue by you.

I cast this on last Wednesday.  Not bad for a week’s worth of knitting, no?  I’m racing Emma, who has been knitting hers for… how long now, Em?  She’s split for the neckline, anyway.  I reckon I can catch her….

The yarn is super smooshy, and the colour is simply glorious.  It’s a sort of peacock, with that blue you can see in the photo, but also a shimmer of emerald green.  Mmmmmmm bliss.  And the cables are so fun!  The first bit zoomed by because it went knitknitknit concentrate for twenty stitches, knitknitknit concentrate for twenty stitches.  Repeat.  Now I am doing the cable repeats for the waist, and it’s dragging a bit because it is not interesting at all… I’ve done three and a half, the pattern calls for five, and I’m going to up it to six for extra snuggliness… Sigh.  Hopefully I’ll get some knitting in tonight and knock that on the head.

I’ve also cast on for some genmaicha for me, in baby camel, but I got up to the fiddly bit where you seperate for the thimb gusset and start the cabling while I was drunk one night, so they’ve been put away for when I have brain again…

It feels so good to be back on the horse again.