Why do you sew what you sew?

My general sewing MO is to make some rough plans of the kinds of things I want to sew, and then when I feel like sewing something, I pick what appeals to me within that. I also often get a bee in my bonnet to sew a particular fabric, pattern, or type of garment, and happily let them skip to the head of the informal queue. Because this is a loose, flexible process, there’s some thinking about what would be useful to me – things like my School Witch skirt or denim circle skirt come to be because I notice a gap in my wardrobe that would make other things more wearable. But there’s also a whole bunch of reacting to unseen forces. Like many and over-educated person with two semesters of economics under my belt, I like to delve into those from time to time.

Filling a wardrobe gap

I really noticed this a lot when planning for my SWAP sewing. I was trying to be deliberate and sew what I would wear. I am done my sewing now, and looking at my original plan, I see I have only sewn five of the things on that list – and only two of them will make it into my final SWAP post as the others don’t really go with the others in terms of feeling like a cohesive whole.

Partially this is because my personal style is undergoing some shifts and of course the influence of external fashion trends etc,  but there’s more at work than that I think. (Of course I do), and it ties into my motivations for sewing in the first place. I was also prompted to actually blog about it when I was commenting on one of Ciara’s posts and could’t stop talking about it! Sorry Ciara…

Motivation one: I sew mostly work clothes

I generally don’t have trouble finding loungewear (although I do then feel guilty for buying things made in sweatshops but that’s another issue). But I DO have a LOT of trouble finding work appropriate clothes that I like. Partly this is size ranges – I am a tweenie which means I am often in between the plus and straight sizes. It’s also about price, material and fit. I am not paying hundreds of dollars for a poorly made, polyester shirt that gapes across my bust. Not. Happening. It didn’t happen much before I could sew, either. So before I sewed for myself my work clothes involved a lot of knit tops. It still does, but now it also includes fitted dresses.

Boring to sew, gets worn all the time

So my sewing is mostly work-appropriate clothes, and that is very different for me now than it was two years ago because I work in a different workplace. (As an aside, a colleague found out last week that I sew my own clothes and she exclaimed ‘Really?! But you always look so professional!’ I am choosing to take that as a compliment, I suppose…)

Motivation 2: I sew what I already wear. Conversely I sew what I can’t already wear

My choice of patterns has always been influenced by what I wear, which in turn has been influenced by what was already available to me. I don’t have a desire to make jeans (or any kind of pant), for instance, because I don’t wear them. But I don’t wear them because I can’t buy them to fit my in a way I like. So perhaps it is worth making them, because then I can make ones that fit and then I would wear them!

I am also influenced by things I would like to wear but aren’t available to me to buy – whether that’s shape, style, fabric, or fit. My first makes were numerous skirts, not just because they were relatively easy but because I already wore a lot of skirts and tops, but this way I could wear well fitting skirts in colours and patterns that I liked, and shapes that weren’t fashionable at the time. The trouble I had buying an A-line skirt! Ridiculous.

Looks like I first made this pattern in 2012, and I made several over the years. Repeating the same pattern over and over helped me get better at sewing. I don’t wear this silhouette much any more but I regret getting rid of this version specifically – I doubt I’d wear a robot skirt these days but it holds a special spot in my sewing history and I wish I’d kept it. At least I have the blog!

Motivation 3: I sew what I can sew – or can almost sew

Ultimately I am sewing clothes to wear them. That means I naturally gravitate towards things that I know I can sew with enough skill that the garment is wearable. As with the above mentioned skirts, I didn’t quite have all the skills to make them when I started, and admittedly, some of those early skirts were a bit of a disaster – but honestly no more than many of the RTW options available to me. As my skill level has increased, and I acquired more sewing tools and better machines and a dedicated sewing space, what I sew has increased in complexity.

I’m a product sewer. I like reading about seam finishes and I like knowing the couture ways to do things but honestly I’m not at all bothered by raw knit edges and overlocked seams – or even obvious mends or mismatched seams as long as they’re not in a place where they’re highly visible. I am much much more interested in the overview of how the garment looks on. While I do continue to enjoy building my skills and knowledge, and can certainly see a future where I spend a month making a simple skirt with couture finishes, that time is not now. I am coming around to not feeling guilty about that – I always feel like I should spend more time and effort on my garments. But why? Does that have a value in and of itself? Maybe, but I don’t think that value overrides the value of having a finished, wearable garment – at least for me, right now it doesn’t.

Sometimes that means messy insides. That's fine by me.
Sometimes that means messy insides. That’s fine by me.

Motivation 4: I sew to cover my nakedness

Riffing off of that last point, as I have moved into sewing being the default rather than shopping, it’s actually put a fair amount of pressure on my sewing time. I need to be clothed, respectably, and in a seasonally appropriate manner. Six months ago I went through my wardrobe and got rid of every thing I didn’t wear. I was left with essentially five outfits, all but one me made, all appropriate for high summer. It was lovely to see my wardrobe comprised of my sewing but likewise it meant that my future sewing time needed to be practical. As we moved into autumn I found myself very hard pressed to dress myself appropriately every day! So I have focused lately on sewing very versatile things that work well in this transitional season and also work with my existing wardrobe. I can’t afford not to! Very soon I am going to need to sew some warmer items for winter, or shiver through it!

My wardrobe in November, after a clean out. This is everything that I wear, with the exception of tshirts and jumpers which are in drawers. And looking at this now I see three garments I haven't worn since then that should probably go to the op shop, also. 90% of this is me-made.
My wardrobe in November, after a clean out. This is everything that I wear, with the exception of tshirts and jumpers which are in drawers. And looking at this now I see five garments I haven’t worn since then that should probably go to the op shop, also. 90% of this is me-made.

Motivation 5: I sew what works with the materials to hand

Fabric shopping in Adelaide is pretty limited. There are a couple of nice stores but the only fabric I can access in a consistent way is from Lincraft and Spotlight. That means I sew things that work well in the fabrics that they do well – sateen and broadcloth and cotton linen and voile and other plain cottons. I find it hard to access nice, higher end fabrics – and I don’t know that I am willing to pay the prices if I could. In theory I believe that it’s worth paying for, but in practice, when you are large and like big skirts and therefore need six metres for a dress, and that dress may or may not end up getting worn a lot… well. It’s a disincentive to spend thirty dollars a metre, is all. I also have a hard time accessing knits – the main topic of the comments on Ciara’s blog. I don’t tend to sew many tshirts because I can buy ones that are basically fine, still have a drawerfull, and find good quality knit hard to find. That said, I do feel guilty for buying sweats and yoga pants and tshirts because of issues of sweatshops etc. And prompted by the discussion with Ciara, I realised that despite having a whole drawer of tshirts I really only wear the ones I made myself. So I will be looking into buying more knit fabric when I can get it and making more, and giving away the bought ones I don’t wear!

There are some things I have no desire to sew at all. Jeans, bras and underwear (which I have FINALLY found RTW ones I’m comfortable in and so don’t seem worth it). And there are things I can see myself sewing eventually, when it’s less important to clothe myself (in between being excited about shiny new patterns, which I suspect will never change) – sweats, yoga pants, more tshirts. And garments that I am working my way up to because my skill level isn’t there yet but I find it impossible to buy RTW – coats and jackets and also swimsuits although that’s less urgent.


So that’s my navel gazing about what I sew. I craft because it fulfils a deep need in myself, but I SEW, specifically, to clothe myself. And that has an influence on the kinds of patterns, fabrics, techniques and garments I choose to make. It was very interesting to look back over five years of sewing blogging and notice not only how much better I’ve gotten but also how the silhouettes I am choosing have shifted. And it was wonderful to realise that now, when I want a new garment, it doesn’t even occur to me to shop for it.

I’m looking forward to this changing, too – I’m not planning on quitting sewing any time soon! Tell me, what do you sew? And why?


Most of you know I have an uneasy relationship with my mother.

Lately, I don’t have a relationship with her at all. The last time I saw her was at Christmas, and only then because she was invited to the family meal by my father’s side of the family. We barely spoke, and she left early without saying goodbye to me, a supposed punishment. There are two emails from her in my inbox that I don’t intend to reply to. I have no intention of reinstating contact in the near future. Maybe one day, I won’t rule it out. Certainly not this year. I feel as though I should feel ashamed of this decision, but I don’t. I don’t feel proud, either. I don’t feel anything but resolved.

This mother’s day was easier than the last, or the one before it. Far less emotional on my part, and I found social media easier to bear. As I hurt less, other’s joy hurts less. It’s never a good feeling to be standing on the outside of a happy group, scowling in. Among the joy, which this year I could appreciate and allow to warm my heart, was plenty of acknowledgement that mothers and motherhood are complicated, from both sides. That among the people rejoicing and loving each other there are people nursing hurts and injury and loss. That even people with good relationships with their mothers rarely have simple ones. That age and time create cracks in everything. Sometimes these cracks and bumps add to the story and the joy of the thing. Sometimes they break it.

When my mother was the age I am now, she had a two year old – me. When I look at photos of her, she seems achingly young. She was living in a caravan on an 18 acre property in the Adelaide Hills that was mostly scrub and falling down buildings. She was helping to build a house, and sharing a desk job in the city with my father. She was grieving for her brother, who had died a handful of years before in a motorcycle accident when a car cut a corner on a hilly road. She had a troubled relationship with her own mother, who did all the things to her that she would do to me, but magnified by many factors.

Two years before my uncle’s death there had been an argument, during which my grandmother had slapped him, and he said he wouldn’t see them again until an apology was made. The apology never came. Christmas gifts were sent back unopened. And two years later there was no time left for apologies.

As every year for me passes, I see shadowy reflections of that woman in the choices that I make. We are similar, we always have been. And our stories are similar, they carry the same themes, hit some of the same notes. I can see, from here, how many advantages I have had that she didn’t. Advantages of time and place, of being born when I was and having extra choices. But also the advantages of the choices that I have made, and the work that I have done to teach myself better ways of being. I am finding ways to give myself credit for the things I did right while still being infinitely thankful that I had the freedom and ability to do those things. Through sheer dumb luck.

I understand my mother – or at least I understand that woman that was. As I come to know myself, I come to know her, too. I feel the echoes of her. I feel her hurts and her anger. I do not accept them as my own, but I can grieve for her. For the shitty hand that she got dealt. I come from a long line of hobbled, confined women. Women with strong, quick minds and tempers who had no choice but to put them aside and pretend to be meek, to be less than themselves and pretend a joy in sacrifice. Women who dealt with poverty and death and other traumas, and who passed them on like a legacy.

Praise be to modernity, while my grandmother was one of 14 children who survived to adulthood, my mother was one of four, three still walking the earth, and I am one of two, both of us still here. Each generation had more food, more clothes, more medical care. More love. I can’t pretend to think that 100 years ago I would be anything but bitter and hurtful, along with those women. That is my legacy.

I am happy to leave that legacy behind. To turn the coldness back on itself and freeze it off of me. Enough.


Sometimes I feel the distance between who my mother was and who I am becoming shifting, as though I were slipping back and forth between realities. I catch myself standing like her, laughing like her. I catch a scared and angry reaction to a stressful situation and I know in that moment how she felt when she was at her most hurtful. I stop while sewing children’s clothes for friends to reflect on all the nights I saw her sewing, creating, clothing others.

I see my child-self from the other side, and I see my mother from where she stood, and I am sad for how much and how little promise we had as a family. For how much hurt was behind her hurtfulness, how what I saw as her power came from powerlessness. How similar we are and how that closeness keeps us apart. And in those slippery times I feel more confidence in the choices I am making. The choice not to be a mother, and not to have a mother either.

I don’t have a mother. I do not have a woman who mothers me, who provides love and comfort and who tells me stories of myself with fondness. I don’t, and I can’t have that. And that’s ok. I’m not angry about it anymore. But neither am I willing to maintain a relationship with a person – any person – who refuses to treat me with kindness and respect. Who refuses to understand that I exist outside of her wants and needs, and have my own. Who consistently acts thoughtlessly and hurtfully.

The fact that one of those people is the person to whom I feel closest in my most personal self, is the person who did a very good job of parenting me up until the point where my needs became too inconvenient, that is irrelevant. If it ever counted for anything, it has been worn down to nothing by years of hurt.

I choose not to allow myself to continue in a relationship that means emotional servitude to someone else. I choose to protect myself from that. To mother myself. To refrain from mothering her. The relationship we could have – have had – where I parent her and tend to her emotional needs, is no relationship at all. Nor is the one where I manage her, and spend every minute of contact policing my own boundaries. I have no patience left for that. I am tired. 30 years is enough.

In some ways this leaves me bereft, missing something. But I have come to a place where I am so accustomed to not having that thing that there is simply no place in my life for it. I don’t feel alone or abandoned anymore. I have many communities of amazing women (and some men), who provide me with friendship and support, who are mothers and sisters and aunts and friends of the heart. I don’t have a mother. But I have enough.

Maybe one day I will be up to the task of building some kind of relationship with the woman who is my mother. I would like to hope so, because I would like to hope that one day I will be the person with the strength and wisdom that will take. Right now I am not. And that’s ok.

One day I will be more. But for now, I am enough.


I’ve been knitting this cardigan, Ravelry tells me, since December 2011. It got swallowed by my knitting slump.

In my mind I had ages to go of knitting the body. I picked it up after craft camp and started knitting, and then tried it on and it was just about perfect. The sleeves went pretty quick and even though it felt like the front band took forever, it was pretty fast too.

It’s 5ply, but on reasonably large needles – 4mm – so it does knit pretty quick. It also only took a ball and a half of Bendigo yarn, so about 1200m. I was going to knit the sleeves longer but they looked good short when I tried it on. Besides, this is intended to be my office jumper, for just chucking on on top of stuff. So shorter sleeves are good. I was worried they were a bit tight – I know the pattern was adjusted to make them smaller, since people had found them too big. I guess they didn’t account for those of us with bingo wings. They did ease out with blocking, but you can still see the lumps in them from my tshirt and all of that. I should have picked up just a few extra stitches under the arm. In fact, I did pick them up, to avoid holes, but then decreased to have the number required by the pattern.

I really like it, and I was thinking about knitting another one in another colour but I don’t think I need more than one open-front cardi. Or if I do I’d like it to come closer to being closed, rather than hanging open. Because I have more… landscape… out the front than many, there’s more left exposed. But I couldn’t make the front much bigger or else the collar at the back would have stuck up too far. It’s totally fine, it doesn’t bother me at all, but I don’t need another like it. It’s perfect for indoors only, or a night time cardi for summer or spring, but I wouldn’t wear it TO work in winter. Only AT work.

All in all, I’m very pleased! Rav link here with all the deets.

I also spent pretty much one whole day of the Easter long weekend sorting through my stash and putting it up on Ravelry. Which was a bit of a shock, to be honest. I mean, obviously I knew how much yarn I had in terms of where it was stored but I didn’t realise, somehow, HOW MUCH YARN I have. And a lot of it is either single skeins of sock or lace weight, which I don’t knit much of, or it’s bendigo yarn which is ok but it’s nothing special. And a lot of it is exactly the same colour that I knit this featherweight in. Due to an ordering mishap (they sent the wrong weight and said just to keep it since it wasn’t worth posting back) I have a jumper’s worth of 8ply and another jumper’s worth of 5ply. Which is fine because it’s obviously My Colour but I don’t need all the jumpers out of it.

So I’m going to try to knit through some of my stash. I did chuck some of the older, crappier stash, and I’m posting some stuff off to a raveller tomorrow, which has freed up a WHOLE DRAWER. I also sorted out my queue so that everything on the first page is something I’m dying to knit and to own. There was a lot of stuff on there that I’d enjoy knitting but is not my style, so I got realistic about it. I need more plain knits with a little bit of interest, since that is what I like wearing. And what I like knitting, thankfully. I like me a good swathe of stocking stitch.

I’ve already cast on and Essential Cardigan with the leftovers from my Emily. I’m not going to have enough, just from the leftovers, so I’ve decided to frog Emily. I feel sad about that but realistically, I’m not going to wear that jumper. I like the neckline a lot, but the sleeves are not really my style, and the fix in the body is too obvious. So, it goes. I have a couple of other knits that I need to either fix (my Rogue, significantly, which has too-short sleeves and body) or just get rid of altogether. There’s no point having them taking up space when I never wear them, and I’m a much better knitter than I was when I made a lot of them, so I feel confident in being able to either fix them or at least evaluate what is wrong about them and chalk them up to learning. So those are my vague knitting goals for this year – knit from stash and fix my knits.

Presentation and performing

One of the phrases that is used alot in the feminist blogosphere is ‘performing femininity’.  Or gender, or sexuality, or anything. It’s one of those phrases that can start to sound pat and meaningless, but it’s one that sticks with me, that I think about all the time.  Performing rather than experiencing.  When is performing good and fun, and when are we obliged to do it for society’s sake, making it often tiring and oppressive?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to femme it up.  And butch it up, frankly, as my weekend’s experience with power tools showed.  It’s just that, more often than not, I cannot be bothered.  I do not naturally fit the modern day requirements for femininity – as most people don’t.  Well, I have shapely eyebrows that don’t require plucking.  But that’s about it.  I have dark hair, I have a shadow moustache and my legs look prickly an hour after I shave, my hair is naturally limp and uninteresting and if I wear eyeshadow my eyelids itch and I rub it all over my fave in ten minutes anyway.  And while I am enjoying longer hair and the opportunity to do interesting things with it, I am also constantly cheesed off with it – at how much time and effort it is to make it do what I want it to.  And then I can’t, like… move my head quickly or whatever.  Which is boring.  So it does, more often than not, end up in a ponytail.  That’s a compromise I’m happy with.  I now own both a hair dryer and a curling iron, although I have admitted that they will be used once a month at most.  When I want to perform.  Which is not every day.  I think that’s part of the reason I like having blue hair – it always looks like I’ve put some effort in, however minimal.  And it takes me out of one performance category and into another.

I haven’t shaved my legs in about a month, though.  Today I am wearing knee socks, and you can see my heairy knees peeking over the top.  I wore shorts all weekend (with birkenstocks, no less, hello new stereotype).  I didn’t do this on purpose – it was winter and I couldn’t be bothered, and then I got some eczema on my legs so I thought I’d better not.  And before I got around to doing anything about it, I read this post from definatalie.  And I started to think about it.  Why do I shave my legs?  Lots of reasons.  I think I have decided not to shave my armpits or nair off my moustache anymore.  But the legs?  It’s confronting.

The week after I read Definatalie’s post, I said to S ‘I think I might stop shaving my legs’.  He said ‘ok’.  Like you might say if someone told you they thought their favourite colour was now blue instead of green.  I mean, that was pretty much the reaction I expected, and I don’t need permission anyway.  But it’s nice to be validated, I guess.  His response, when pressed was ‘well, you’re  a mammal’.  Which I think is an excellent phrase that I might need stitched onto a cushion.  (You’re a mammal.  Get over it.)  His other contribution, when I said I wasn’t sure if this was a Thing for me, was that I don’t have to decide.  I mean, obviously.  But I feel like I have to.  Like I am required to pick which team I belong to, or something.  But I am not sure, yet, whether this is a ‘I NEVER shave my legs’ stance, or a ‘I don’t, unless I have a reason to do so’ or even ‘I do it whenever I feel like it’.  Fine distinctions, maybe.  But somehow I feel like they’re important.

I think it’s because I feel like people make certain assumptions, if your legs are not shaved.  Not all of those assumptions would be wrong about me, but I am not sure I wish to place myself so heavily in whatever camp that puts me in.  On the other hand, who cares?  They’re legs, I’m a mammal, people can either get to know me and work out which assumptions are right and wrong, or not.  It’s not like I’m not going to get a job because I have hairy legs, or people will refurse to serve me at shops.  And, anyway, I already have blue hair.  I am CLEARLY a freak (I love my blue hair).  Then again, and this is more relevant, I feel a bit… ungroomed.  Scruffy.  I pretty much live in skirts, although not recently since I got too fat for them – but then my jeans have all worn out in the thighs, so I am back to skirts.  And skirt mean exposed legs.  And to me, exposed legs mean smooth, clean shaven legs.  I have yet to work out if this is because that is what I have been taught, or because it’s what I like, for myself. I almost shaved this weekend, when I knew it was going to be warm and I’d be in shorts.  And then I decided to wait and see.  Because maybe I am just unused to looking at it.

I feel a bit daft, writing an angsty post about my leg hair.  Like, welcome to the party, young one.  Also, get over yourself.  But I think it’s not too frivolous (almost, though) because my main sticking point is what it makes me look like.  To others, and also to myself.  I’m waiting to figure out what that is, and how I feel about it.  Meanwhile, my temperature is better regulated, and I have more time in the mornings, so I’m sort of happy with that.  Also, no stubble!  That bit is great.

In a semi-related note, you should go read Frances’ post about her bikini.  And look  at her fabulous, kick arse photos.  I want to give her a big hug because of that last photo.  Fabulous! I am determined to buy myself a bikini this summer.  I have a sensible swimming one piece, that is thick proper material and holds all the bits in appropriate places.  But I was a bikini so I can go to the beach and just hang out.  S burns in about 30 seconds (seriously, we went out yesteray and I could SMELL his head burning.  It was pretty gross), so I forsee many twilight swimming sessions.  So I’m not worried about skin exposure and cancer, in my bikini.  And I REFUSE to have any body hang ups about this.  So there.  Do you hear me?  REFUSE. The last time I had a two piece (actually, the first time, too) I would have been 13.  And about five adults told me ‘well, good for YOU’.  Which I found confusing, because I hadn’t realised it was a Thing, yet.  Anyway.  The point is, I am going to get my belly out this summer. I just have to deal with the expense.  Oh, nice things.  Why do you cost so much, always?

Real life

I’ve been thinking lately, idly, about real life and blogs.

When does your real life make it onto your blog?

It’s a weird thing.  Because blogs are sort of in between.  Ok, sometimes I blog about my lunch, but usually it’s not the day to day stuff I blog.  It’s the abstract thoughts or particular events.  Not the things that you see if you live with me every day.  Not the hanging up socks and mopping the floor, or the sitting on my bum looking at the floor and thinking ‘hmm, I really should mop that’. 

It’s almost exactly the things that don’t get seen, that I blog.  The things I think about while I mop.

So what happens when something big happens?  Good or bad?  You have a death in a family or you get sick, you start a new relationship or have a baby. You buy a house or lose it to a fire.  How does that make it onto the blog?  There’s often a disconnect – those are the times that you are too busy dealing with your life – good and bad – to want to sit down at a computer and talk about it, even though you might be dying to tell everyone.  Or even though you feel like those other people, who are in your life because of this wonderful thing that is the internet, deserve to know about it.  I consider many of you much closer friends, who know me much better, than the people I see everyday at the office.  But they often know far more about what I did on the weekend than you.  They don’t know what it meant to me, but they know what I did.

What about privacy?  What do you not want to tell the internet?  I’ve had a few chats with a couple of non-bloggy friends, including S.  They don’t read my blog, and I like it that way.  It feels… intrusive.  Intimate.  Exposing. 

Maybe it’s partly because they don’t have a blog, so it’s not reciprocal.  It would just be them, staring into however many years of my thoughts and whims.  The things I am proud of in the moment that look silly, two years later.  The resolutions I made that only lasted a month.  The thoughts I thought (like this one) were deep, but turn out just to be idle musings.

It’s not like there’s anything in my blog that I wouldn’t, and haven’t, talked about with them.  In fact, they get the more detailed, custom fitted versions.  On the same vein, there are plenty of things that I am happy to email or chat about to all of you that I wouldn’t put on my blog – or might put a different way, filter through something.

But often that means, I think, that people feel like they can’t put real things on their blog.  It feels like whinging, or bragging.  Like you are asking for help or attention, when all you really want is somewhere to put it all.  And, yes, maybe someone to hear you. 

And it means that often, when you stumble accross a blog, you have no idea what the life behind it is like.  The blog might be full of pictures of happy crafts and smiling children, but that doesn’t mean that person’s life is happy and whole.  Or a blog where the person talks about being depressed doesn’t mean that their life is ALL about that, and there is never any sunshine.  It can be misleading, like a zoomed in photo of the one corner of a room that’s clea and tidy.  And I think it leads us to judge ourselves by false measures.  To think that if our life doesn’t look like that all the time, it’s not as good or as happy.  And then we find ourselves both trapped on either sides of a glass that we both helped to make, but never wanted.

Another post with a hanging conclusion.  Ok, how’s this.  What things would you NEVER EVER blog.  I would never ever blog about my sex life.  I feel like I’m walking a line blogging about S, even – about my personal romantic life.  I think if I had kids, that would be a really tricky one – how much of their story is mine?  How much of my story am I allowed to tell?  I would never blog, in depth, about someone else’s grief or hurt, unless I could do it in an abstract, this made me think, type way. 

What do you wish you blogged more of?  I feel like a lot of the interesting things never make it onto my blog – for instance, last weekend we went to the Roller Derby Grand Final, four adelaide teams played off, and it was SO GREAT.  But by the time we got home I was getting sick and now I’ve lost the impetus to talk about it.

How about you all?

10 years is a long/short time. Circle the appropriate one.

I was readings someone’s blog and they did a meme which started with ’10 years ago, I was…’

Ten years ago, I was 16.  I know, right?  I was, exactly 10 years ago, right in the middle of my exchange to China.  I was living in a forieng country, eating with chopsticks, trying to do maths WAY above my level (after a certain point I just sort of stopped bothering to go to class) and, for the first time, I wasn’t living with my mother.

I have such vivid memories of that time.  Not complete, but vivid.  Smells and sounds and sights.  Sitting at the hot pot restaraunt eating good food with the foriegn teachers and drinking pepsi or beer.  Going into the city to the japanese supermarket and getting crepes (which I will still make myself sick on, for nostalgia’s sake).  The dorm room (I stayed at a boarding school) and going home to stay with my dorm mates on weekends.  Their crazy rich parents.  The boy who asked me to be his ‘Australian girlfriend’ and how completely disinterested I was.  The impassioned farewells and greetings and letters and emails from my friends at home.

It seems so close and so far away at the same time.  It definitely happened to someone else, someone who isn’t me anymore.  And yet, at the same time, I recognise myself so fully in some of those memories.  It was a weird moment of vertigo, especially when I realised that I am wearing a jumper today that I bought on that exchange trip.

All I can really say, to sum it up, is that I am so, so glad to be where I am now.  That the 16 year old me couldn’t have dreamt of this life I live now – one in which I am, most days, happy.  She didn’t know that it was an option.

  And I am sad when I think about her, and so pleased to be able to tell her, the bits of her that still make me up, that we did it.  We made an awesome life, with the help of some lovely wonderful people we met along the way, and a whole lot of luck.

Gosh, I’m deep this week, aren’t I! 😉

Weekend achievements

It was wet and blustery here in Adelaide over the weekend.  Trees were down, power was out (not at my place, thankfully!) and my backyard is squelchy and slippery.  I have been trying to remember summer and how hot and dry it was, to make myself thankful for the water.  I’d feel better about it if my garden beds were all mulched and the water tank was functional.  I think the tank really needs to be emptied, because I suspect that the bottom half is full of gunk, and I can’t even turn the tap on.  But it’s a fair way down the to do list, I’ll be honest with you.

Last week was pretty wet and wild, too.  And every time it rained and my lean to leaked, I thought about the packed spare room, and how my sister had just chucked boxes in there, right up against the leaking wall.  Like I’d specifically asked her not to.  And there was s sucpicious smell.  But the thought of rearranging the crap in the shed so I could rearrange the crap in the spare room was just a bit overwhelming.

My weekend started off slowly.  On Friday  S came and picked me up from work because we were going to the Adelaide Show on Saturday, and he was getting over a migraine, so we just sat around watching QIand chatting.  Lovely.  On Saturday, S obliged me by helping me re-ye my hair blue over the bits I’d missed, and then I got a bee in my bonnet and tidied up my bedroom and the loungeroom.  Not that that took long, but it felt SO much better.  All the ‘too hard’ piles were dealt with and sorted, and even though it’s still about the same state of neatness now, after being used all weekend, it still feels cleaner and more organised.  Nicer to be in.  I sorted out my WIP system, although it still needs some attention due to all the random almost-finished things I have lying around in baskets. Emma and Osk and Sally came around and Emma pruned my poor neglected rose bushes for me, since she has the know how.  And we had a cuppa and a chat, and laughed at the baby for pulling faces.  And then we got sorted and went to the show.

It was WET.  And it was WINDY.  And I had just a lovely time.  We looked at none of the sideshows and didn’t even consider the rides.  We looked at pigs and cows and sheep and alpacas and goats.  And I bought some local natives from Trees for Life which were actually just what I wanted, and they were only 2 for $5.  A hardenbergia to grow along the front fence, and a hakea although I’m not sure where that’s going.  And we looked at the craft and the flowers and did the Yellow Brick Road.  And then it got dark and we thought about the fireworks and went home to sit on the couch instead.  Lovely.

Sunday S tootled off and I bummed around for a bit, picking things up and putting them back down again.  Then I plugged in my iPod and got stuck into the spare room.  It took me about 4 or 5 hours all up, but it’s now clean and clear and lovely.  I moved the crap in the garage around enough that my stuff is accessible and my sister’s stuff is at the back.  I got all of her stuff out of the spare room (minus the clothes I had to throw out from the boxes against the wall because they had gone mouldy.  I TOLD HER SO.) so now my house is SISTER FREE.  Then I organised and sorted and threw.  My bins are full and so is the op shop box, and I keep thinking of more things that I don’t really need.  The spare room now houses the cat litter and some galvanised shelves with the inside-tools on them, like my drill and the screwdrivers, so that if I decide at 10pm that I need to put in a hook, I don’t have to go outside.  Everything else got sorted and is in the shed or the pinboards in the garage which I can now GET to.  Then I tackled the junk that was accumulating in the laundry.  The garden stuff is all still in a pile for sorting, but everything else got sorted and stored, chucked or placed.  Then I swapped the desk that was in there for a table.  A friend is storing stuff in my shed while he’s interstate, and he said I could use anything I like, and his table is just the right size.  So now I have a place to eat!  So thrilling.  Shoosh, it is thrilling.

Actually, the most thrilling bit was when my laundry was completely empty.  I swept it twice. The cat likes to wipe his feet on the edge of his litter tray when he’s done, so there were bits of litter everywhere.  And then I mopped it.  Twice.  It was GROSS.  The wall in there isn’t completely weatherproof either.  It’s not as bad as the spare room, but if anything touches it, it will leak.  And there was crap everywhere, so it was leaking.  Then I sorted the shelves and the cupboard under the sink, so that all the buckets and random pieces of cleaning equipment that seem to live on the washing machine now have designated homes.  And then I scrubbed the laundry sink, which was covered in paint. 

The craft room is a bit of a dumping ground, and I still have too much stuff for my house.  But I can get ot it all.  I cannot begin to tell you how exciting that is.  I can get to it to deal with it.  I think I might go through my bookshelf tonight and be ruthless.  There are some things there that I am tempted to keep but, lets be honest, I’m never going to read.  I bought a bunch of second hand books the other day that I will read, over and over, and I would like to have room for them.  I expect I’ll need another op shop box.

Do you think the op shop will take my cat, too?

After all that cleaning and tidying and sorting, I sat down on the couch and I cast off the blanket that I have been knitting for Sally.  I was knitting it at her birth 6 months ago, and I wanted it DONE, but at 500+ stitches a round it was taking me a while.  It’s off the needles now, and all I need to do is find the floorspace to block it.  Then I think I might go through my WIP baskets and have a bit of a finishing party.  I know there are hats with two round left to go, and things that only need the ends woven in.  And THEN, I think I might cast on for Get Off My Cloud, without the cloud pocket, I think, like the Storm Cloud version.

This morning as I was getting ready I picked a bunch of tulips and filled up vases.  Crisp, dew covered tulips.  Lovely!  I feel much much better about my house and its contents.  Things are moving.

Some things that are my garden

From the verandah, looking left

This is the view you get if you walk to the edge of the covered part of the verandah.  That pile of dirt is potting mix over mulch.  I got it delivered, and I got halfway through it before it got dark by the time I got home, and I ran out of steam.  Need to clear the potting mix off and find how much mulch I have left, and order more.  Need to finish mulching the front yard, and I also want to use it as path material for the beds you can see in the front, since they flood when it rains.  I also have to think about what ot do about the driveway, which the pile is on.  I was going to order more gravel, but if I do that, I have to KEEP doing it.  Thoughts, anyone?  The ground gets pretty muushy in winter, so it does need attention.  On the other hand, I don’t have a car, or indeed a license, so it’s hardly urgent.  I’m also plotting a washing line out here.  I have one, under the verandah, which is great for winter.  But it means I won’t get sun warmed sheets, and I like to air my quilt in the sun.  It’s also over the bit where people woudl sit in the summer, which is less than ideal.

You can see the New, Improved, Dodgiest Chicken Dome Ever™ right at the front.  And this morning I moved the guinea pig over those weeds – he can earn his keep.  That’s the tahitian lime in the potful of pansies, next to the raised bed of bulbs which you can’t see, because the weeds are too high.  I noticed this morning that some of the tulips have flowerbuds, I reckon I might even get a flower or two this week.  Thrilling!  Up the back there’s my exciting new compost bin.  Here it is being built:

Compost bin avec manpanion

As you can see, I was very helpful in the building of this.  My job mostly consisted of handing tools and also saying ‘it just has to be good enough, no, I think four ties per side is plenty, can I put these weeds in it now?’  Seriously.  Never get a perfectionist to help you.  Or, you know, always do.

Compost bin in use

I finally was allowed to put the weeds in it.  Speaking of, anyone know what this is?

Anyone know what this is?

It’s everywhere, as it was at our last house.  It’s not very deep rooted so I’ve been digging it up for the compost, and planting wildflower seeds instead (no idea if they’ll grow or not).  But I would like to know what I am digging. I wonder if I should leave some for the catterpillars that appear to be eating it.  I’m not a fan of catterpillars, but I do quite like butterflies, and I understand that a lot of native butterflies really struggle because of lack of the food and breeding plants.

I think I shall move my propagating table to this area between the shed and the fence.  Where it is at the moment, around the side of the house, it doesn’t get enough sun.  I might need to bring trays of seedlings out beside the front door too, though, to make sure I walk past them and give them a check and a water every day.  I think this area up the back would be a nice place to sit of a summer evening, and eventually I woudln’t mind putting in some sort of pond effort – maybe sink an old bath in?  Near the compost is good for frogs. 

And this photo is taken standing in the same spot as the top photo, but turning to my right.  The bit up the back where the straw and poles are is the ‘carport’, and joins up with where the ladders are in the top pic.

Looking right

Oh dear, taking photos does make you see all the abandoned buckets and feed sacks, not to mention the weeds!  Oh, well.  You can see the edge of the F*&king ivy in this photo.  For reference, this is what it used to look like, with my sister’s legs poking out from under it:

You can see the edge of the ‘carport’ (the green bit of fence on the left) for direct comparison.  Oh, and all the F(*&king three cornered jacks at the bottom of the photo.

I am actually quite pleased with all the weeds, given that the bed is covered with ivy leaves, which are allopathic.  The weeds mean that the effect is fading and I might be able to grow things there myself.  I think this week when the bins are emptied I can clear that off finally, and mulch it with straw.

Here is my rough plan of the back yard, to match the photos.  It is totally not to scale, I just made it up completely.

back yard

The photos are taken from the top of the plan, where the verandah meets the concrete.  Anything with a dotted line is planned but not planted/setup yet. 

The chook dome beds (which I now see is misspelled.  Grrr) were originally a proper mandala – six circles around the central one, which was to be a pond.  But that bit where the kiwis are is so damp and dark in winter, as it’s shaded by the house.  I have abandoned it to shade liking things.  And I am dubious about how the kiwis will go – the female will get a decent amount of sun in summer, as the sun is higher and will make it around the side of the house.  Well, we’ll see anyway.  I’m going to try a tamarillo in there, and some violets, and I’m going to get that old blue sink I have lying around, stop up the drain, and set it in the ground as a teeny pond.  Hopefully to attract some frogs. I like frogs.

Because of the change of plans, this setup only gets me four chook beds.   I worked out this morning that I could do this (only thing different is the imaginary chook beds): 

back yard2

I can’t fit the dome on most of the left hand beds, as it’s too narrow, but at the end between the apple trees it widens out and I could squeeze it in.  This way I could have five or six beds, but I’m waiting to see how much walking space I need between the beds and the raised bed.  I intend to have some herbs in one of those wine barrel pots on the concrete, and the bit where I’ve written ‘still covered in ivy’ there will be a passionfruit vine along the fence, and I think I will plant some things like silverbeet and lettuce and celery there.  Things that I can pick the outer leaves of continiuosly.  It’s close to the back door, so I can just nip out for some for a salad or stif fry, which is nice. 

The hypothetical rabbit run is under the car port.  They dig, so I can’t have them on dirt, and that bit is concreted so it’s perfect. My plan is to build a walk-in height (for my convenience and also because they like to sit on the roof of their hutch) pvc structure, large enough to put their hutch in and still leave them room to run around it.  The guinea pig might even be able to go live with them.  That means that under the vernadah will be free for human seating.  And it will also be less damp, because the verandah is not water tight and when it rains heavily they get flooded.  Which they don’t mind too much (they have above-ground sleeping areas) but having the hutch there makes everything STAY damp, which is gross and annoying.  I’ve just got my tax return back (woohoo!) so I shall have to plan a trip to get the materials soon – I want to use bird wire, because the sparrows get in their food at the moment which is MOST annoying.

I’ve been reading Jackie French again, and I reckon I can get another tree in the back yard.  Maybe an orange tree?  Near the raised bed.  Maybe I’ll leave out that extra chook bed and make that a space for oranges.  Mmmmm nom.  I also reckon I can fit another tree out the front (quince?  Persimon? everything ever?).  Oh, here’s the front:

front yard

The weird rectangle the roses are in is the ‘driveway’.  I put it in inverted commas because, although it is a standard driveway, there only a little gate at the front and there is a stobey pole in front of that.  So really, it’s just a double path.  The roses are in the middle bit, and where one had died off I planted a natal plum, which is a shrub.  I have another one too but I haven’t figured out where ot put it, and it’s looking a bit sad in its tube.

I still have a blueberry and a blackcurrant to plant out the front, under the trees, and will probably order some more berries like strawberries and whatever else takes my fancy, and also some rhubarb.  I WAS going to have the nectarine in the same hole as the peach and the apricot, but diggers can’t find their own arse, so they ran out of stock before they filled my order.  I am never ordering anything larger than tubestock from them again, they were absolutely hopeless, and every time I tried to check up on it, no one knew what was happening.  ANYWAY.  Now I’m going to have a dwarf nectarine in front of the window somewhere – they only grow about 1.5m high, so it won’t block the sun.

I have the avocadoes, but it’s still too cold to plant them.  I am going to use them as a hedge, but they’ll need some wind protection there.  I figure I’ll just whip up some shade cloth screens for now, and I might end up putting up a trellis and haivng a passionfruit on there as well.  Or maybe a jasmine, since I LOVE them (it’s not summer without that smell) and that way people can’t just walk past my house and steal my avocadoes.  Or, if the kiwis don’t do very well out the back, I could have a kiwi there.  Lots to consider.

And, for making it this far, I give you a picture of my cat, all tired out from crocheting:

Some things that are not my garden

I was going to introduce myself to my neighbours last night, but I fell asleep in front of the fire after dinner.  Whoops.

We went to see inception on Saturday.  It was EXCELLENT!  And don’t believe people who tell you you ahve to concentrate.  It’s was complex, and it needed attention, but we were pretty hung over and it was totally followable.  And Leo and Jason Gordon-Levitt are all grown up!  Oh, the memories.  I heard a rumour that JGL is going to play the Joker, which I thought was ridiculous, but having seen him in Inception I think he’ll be great.  My favourite bit of the whole movie was the floaty hallway scene.  So. Cool.  Way cooler than the matrix!  I would totally recommend to everyone that you go see Inception.  It’s the best movie I’ve seen in a very very long time.

Well, I did also wathc the Royal Tenenbaums and Watchmen, last week.  I realise I’m well behind the eight ball with these.  I went to have a movie night with a friend, who had been suggesting I watch RT for about a year.  But I have an irrational hatred of both Gwyneth and Ben Stiller, so I was resisting.  I loved it, it was fantastic.  And I think anyone who’s had a complicated relationship with a parent will identify with the movie.  Also, I secretly adore both the Wilson brothers.  Aaaaaw. Anyway, all the characters were interesting, even the ones I didn’t like (predictably, Stiller and Paltrow’s characters).

Watchmen was also fantastic.  I didn’t know anything about the series, although the manpanion has said he will lend me the comics.  I totally didn’t predict the ending, which is unusual for me in hollywood movies.  Well, I picked the bad guy, but turns out by the end I liked him the best.  And as a history nerd, I found it fascinating – I laughed at many things which I companion gave me funny looks about (not unusual, I admit).

I went swimming last Thursday.  My bus goes past the Adelaide Aquatic centre so I just stopped off and went for a swim.  I haven’t swum properly for years!  I’ve mucked around in the ocean, etc, but not swum laps.  It was fantastic, even if it did take my body about a half an hour to sort itself out and remember how to do it properly.  I’m going to try to get a swim in once a week, because it does make such a big difference to how I feel.  Partly because it’s winter and I sit on my arse all day, so exercise feels fantastic.  And partly because there is just something about being in water, about putting my head under it and seeing that cool blueness stretching out, that is so so revitalising.  And if I can figure out where the spa/sauna is in the aquatic centere, even better! (I know it’s in there somewhere)

Here is the only pic I have of the snapdragon mitts. 

I was going to snap a photo of my sister wearing them, and also the Peak’s Island Hood, but her last days in country were such a mad panic I didn’t bother.  The shot of the hood blocking is too dark and fuzzy to bother with.  Oh, well.

And here is a photo of my cat in a weird position, looking mad.

Thankyou for playing.

Click click click – giveaway

You know, I haven’t missed my computer at home.  Of course, I’m still getting my internet fix in sneaky breaks at work (work policy is this is fine, as long as your work gets done) and I have been able to use my sister’s laptop for emergency internet checking at home if I need to – which I have done once.  I really have not missed it at all.

Well, I’ve been busy.  Socialising, doing gardening (I bought a whipper snipper last weekend!  It’s ace!) hanging out with the manpanion, helping my sister to pack up.  Two more sleeps until she goes!  It has sort of rushed up on me.  I am certainly a bit sad, yes.  Then again, I had a bit of a hissy on Tuesday evening.  I did six loads of dishes on the weekend – by load I mean, what will fit on the rack at one time, I HATE drying, so I don’t.  And the sister had said she would do some on Monday.  Came home Tuesday and the kitchen was trashed, literally every surface covered with dirty crockery, and I broke a mug because I reached for the cat’s roo that was defrosting on the sink and a pile was dislodged.  Well, I didn’t really have a hissy – it was one of a set of four Jamie Oliver colour mugs and it was this weird khaki, so it won’t be missed among my hundreds of mugs.  Especially when it’s just me, because I tend to just use the same mug for days because I rinse it out when I’m done, except right now I can’t keep track of which one is mine in the maze of dirty mugs.  So instead of a hissy I just sighed a deep, heavy sigh and went to go get the dustpan.  BUT I COULD HAVE had a hissy.

And I’ve been knitting, of course.  I can’t remember if I told you I was done with the Peak’s Island Hood or not – I am, and it’s all blocked and the cat only sat on it a few times during that process. Have yet to sew the buttons on because my sister has them and doesn’t know where they are.

Blocked damson, FINALLY, although the edges are still a bit curly.  Really wish I’d managed that purl ridge.  I’ve worn it a couple times, but it’s been pretty cold this week and I really need a proper thick scarf to go with my massive coat.  Hoping it will get more of a look in when it warms up.  Which has to be soon, right?  Surely.  I am very over it being cold and dark all the time.  I am ready to wear skirts.  I am wearing a skirt today, with tights, and I am FREEZING.  Bring on bare-foot weather, I say.

And I finished the snapdragon mitts.  The first one took me about two weeks, the second one got cast on this Monday and finished last night.  Not a bad effort.  I mucked up a couple of the cable bits a little bit, but not so’s you’d know unless you know what you’re looking for.  I blocked them last night, and tonight I will find a button to attach the flap bit to.  And then I might manage to take photos on the weekend and possibly even upload them.  Oh, yes, and give them to my sister before she leaves for Ireland on Saturday.

I bought the pattern for Andrea’s Shawl (rav link) and I swatched and cast on for it last night.  The yarn I bought for it is from etsy seller Hermosa and it is BEAUTIFUL.  Soft and shiny and such gorgeous colours.  The light purple is called ‘thistle’ and the dark ‘blackberry’.  Unfortunately I didn’t pay much attention and even though it’s labelled as a sock yarn, it’s fingering weight – I’d say light fingering – where the pattern calls for sport weight.  I got gauge holding it double, which doesn’t show the yarn off as much as it could, but is still very pretty.  But now I am of course worried that I won’t have enough yarn.  I might, given that I’m doing the smallest size of the stripy version.  Oh, well, at least it’ll make me knit faster, right?  Under the well known phenomenon of thinking you’re going to run out of yarn having that effect.  If I start to run out I suppose I could use more of the darker yarn in the body of the shawl.  Body of the shawl?

You start by knitting the bottom edging, and I’m zooming along making purple lace.  Got a few weird looks on the bus today. 

 I accidentally bought the pattern twice.  I bought it from knitpicks and it didn’t get processed and I wanted to swatch THAT NIGHT (which of course I didn’t end up doing) and it’s chepa and I like her patterns so I bought it through ravelry, which was instant.  So now I have two.  Would anyone like one?  Leave me a comment.  If more than one person wants it, I’ll do a random draw thingy.

I replied to the acquaintence who sent me the political rant, basically telling him off.  He wrote back apologising and thanking me for my opnion.  I shall have to write back again.  He’s a nice boy, even if he does give me beserker rage.

And that is about all that is happening here.  Oh, except that I painted my letter box red.  It looks fantastic.