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Home for the Holidays

Happy holidays to everyone, near and far.

We came back to cold.  This was the day after Christmas.Zachary was an imposing snowball hurler.

This was our gift to each other.

Her name is Bella and she is a chubby at 7.2 lbs.

We were worried that Jake might bully her, but she seems to have the upper hand.  She makes his 14 lbs seem huge.

She doesn’t yet use the doggy door for bathroom privileges, but we are working on it.

The family all loved her.

I’ll be making dresses with ruffles.  After I finish all the piled up housework and mail.  My free-living life has screeched to a halt for a while.

Added another inch to Zachary’s gansey and have done some scrumbling.  Poor Steve may never get his socks.

More later–


Saying Goodbye

The last sleep—only I can’t.  I have at least said a good farewell to Brisbane, to the great people who have become friends, to the gift of reflection, renewal, rediscovery.  I think I now understand the concept of sabbaticals, and we all should have them.

It only took four days to really say the goodbyes.

Wednesday I met Annabel at Threads and More.  Mars was there with her lovely granddaughter who brought her needlepoint and joined the ladies.  Geraldine, unexpectedly, was there; the rain had canceled her trip.  Lynda, the owner, greeted me with the “Hi, Jane,” I have begun to expect.  It’s like showing up at Cheers and I’m Norm.

We talked and joked and just didn’t talk about my leaving.  I bought some cute things made by Alyssa.  A crochet hook holder and a pin cushion.

I was able to tell Marion how much I loved her work at Graydon Gallery;  she has promised me some lessons if I return.

Geraldine made me an example of the Traveling Vine stitch, the one I have been trying to figure out.  She even had written the directions for me.

Annabel, who took me on a tour of quilt shops, gave me three of her scrumbles.  She has been working on these for two years to get enough to make a jacket, but she gave me three of them.  I was so touched.  They will probably be hung on my wall.  She also wrote the sweetest note.

Lynda reminded me that if I am going to get to come back, I must give her enough notice to advertise some workshops for me to teach.   I promised.

I paid up and walked back to the train station for the last trip back to the city.

Thursday, Liz took me to the Thursday night Knitting group at Tangled Yarns.

Julia came in her new sweater. She was determined to finish it before I left and she did.  It looks wonderful on her.  We had a nice evening and then Liz, Julia and I went to this special restaurant and had desserts and wine.

Julia taught me something very important—I didn’t want to eat anything because I was wearing my new dress and I didn’t want to get the inevitable food stains on it.  She reached into her bag and pulled out this big silk scarf, threw it over my shoulders and chest and said, “There, now you can safely eat.”    I had a really classy bib.  And I did get wine on it, but Julia graciously said it would just remind her of me.

Friday—I went bib shopping.  Scarves were on sale and I bought three.

Saturday we spent with Liz and Brett.  They drove us up the Sunshine Coast to places they love.  We saw quiet towns where locals spend their holidays.

King Prawns

We visited one of their favorite seafood places for lunch.  It was very different.  It was a seafood market where you could buy whole fish, filets, prawns etc. and then they would cook them for you.

Prawn Peeler Man

Upstairs was a big room where we could eat and look out at the boats in the harbor.

We ate King prawns, Long tail Moreton Bay Bugs

and fried Barramundi.  With our fingers.  It was wonderful.  We took pictures and laughed a lot.

We drove to Noosa, where some of the beautiful people go, and shopped a bit.  Ate ice cream on the beach and watched the storm come in.  Steve bought a T shirt and Liz bought a great beaded top.  The rain came and so we headed back to Brisbane.  Steve and Brett talked every possible kind of motor sport and then relived every World War II series ever shown on the History Channel.  Liz and I just listened and laughed and I knit.

She brought us a going away bag with Anzac biscuits, souvenirs of Australia, and a calendar to mark the date of our return.  She really believes we will be back.  Wrote such a lovely card.

We came back to our place, had cheese and fig and beer.  Brett gave us lots of info as we watched the third match of The Ashes test match—cricket, against England.  Such a great day with friends.

Today I washed and packed and just thought.  Steve ran in and out to get us some food, but I was content just to sit and wait for tomorrow.  This has been such a gift and I do so hope I won’t forget the things I have learned.  I know I’ll never forget the people who have made us feel so at home here.

It’s 1:30 am and I should be in bed.  No worries.  I’ll sleep on the plane.

More later—from home.

A Few of My Favorite Things in Australia

Some of my favorite little things in Australia

Our teapot and the 240 volt electrical system—

Gerber daisies in all the street markets—

My pullcart for heavy groceries—We gave it to one of Steve’s colleagues. 

The City Cat transport system—

Moreton Bay Figs and Weird (to me) flora—

Curvy architecture—

Next to old world architecture—

My simple kitchen—

Making do with what we have—

But it is almost time to go home–As my friend Liz says, One More Sleep.

Yoke Sweater Sleeves

The top down yoke sweater, my first ever yoke sweater, is almost finished.  Nothing like going from 80 degree weather to 17 degree and having no coat to give you the push you need to finish knitting a sweater.  Yes, I plan to wear it home.

What have I learned?

First, that Amy Herzog was right.  My body type can wear this style.

Yokes are fun because you can do some fancy stuff there and then keep it simple and non-chunky around your my chunky body.

The armcye.  Well, that’s the place I am still experimenting.  I took my basic design from a general plain pattern.  I knit one size for the back based on my shoulder measurements and a size larger for the front.  The yoke was short rowed for the front in order to cover the girls like I wanted while keeping the shoulder seams equal.  This means the front of the armscye is a bit longer than the back.

Well tailored jackets do not create fronts and backs the same as do most knit patterns.  That is because—I’m preaching here—fronts and backs are the same size only on prepubescent children.

I am doing top down sleeves starting with picking up around the armscye and short rowing for a cap, etc.

I think this first sleeve used too many short rows.  After all the cap part of this sleeve is very small because much of the over shoulder onto the arm is done by the yoke.  Also picked up a few more stitches on the front than the back.  It seems to buckled a bit, just a bit, there.  Remember that I’m making these judgments about an unblocked sweater.

Looking at it again, I think that the short rows should start wider than I did.  I just used the same ratio I always use and that was the error.  I think!

Second sleeve will differ from the first in to correct these things.  No!  I will not frog the first sleeve.  I’ll wear it and remember what I learned.

Do you keep a knitting journal?  You know, with pictures of your projects, the data about needles and yarn and gauge.  If you do, good on ya.  We all should.  Another thing you should add to this journal is a reflection on what you learned from the project, what you wish you had done differently, what you will try next time.  You think you will remember and you won’t.

You could add that to your ravelry notes.  Then the rest of us could learn from you.

More later—

Home in a week.

From the Balcony

Lots of stuff happens on the street below our balcony.  I mean more than just the cooks at Pane e Vino taking a smoke break.

Christmas in Brisbane means street theatre.  Steve has seen these girls on stilts in various Christmas costumes, but this was my first sighting and I managed to grab a camera.

It isn’t amazing just that they can walk on these, but I can’t believe they accomplish this in the crowds on the street.  (We’re still on Charlotte Street.)

It’s raining again and yesterday was a real tropical frog strangler.  This shows the downspouts in the Gilhooley building.

That I caught the actual rain this well impresses me.  Good camera, nice camera.

The water from this one shot out at a 90 degree angle.

When it rains, I just knit and watch.

Walkabout Lace

Don’t you love the name?

Even though Prudence’s scrumbling class did not do anything like this, I still have to credit her with the “push” that led me to this idea.  I’m sure it isn’t new; nothing in fiber art is.  However it is new to me and I had a blast making this scarf.

The yarn is what was left over from my Daybreak Gold Adaptation shawl.  I used a size B crochet hook.  I chained a length that seemed good for a scarf and began.  Actually I just began because I had no finished project in mind when I started.  I just wanted to see how the yarn reacted crocheted on a size B hook.  I was simply scrumbling.

It grew.  There is no repetition or pattern in here.  I just crocheted side to side and tried to keep each row different while keeping the width about the same.  Sometimes I failed.  I discovered how easy it is to just rejoin the yarn and do some filet or double crochet shell like things along the side to correct the width.

Partway through I thought about front post double crochet (treble for the rest of the world).  I did a few motifs with that which were actually planned.  Then I began to plan a little for where I would create solid bits.  You only have to plan that one row ahead and you can change your mind (or forget to do it).

If you make one of the holes too big, you can go back later and fix it.  This is no pressure.  Just make stitches and later you can adjust if you need to.  Heck, you don’t even need to keep the selvedges straight.  Looks more “artistic” if you don’t.

Win-win project.  If you have leftover lace weight, give it a go.  Works up fast and you look like an expert.  Never, ever tell how easy this is.

Walkabout is exemplary of the best of my trip to Australia.  It represents how creative and free I have felt here.  I have pages of items to make or explore.  None of them are designed for a class or a pattern to sell or a project to submit.  They are just things I’d like to try to make and there will be no penalty if they don’t work out.  I wish this joy for all of you.

Day Out with Liz

Out with Liz to visit wherever I wanted to go.  We went to Mountain Spinnery, but they had packed up and were moving to storage.  They looked as tired as we did when we moved Charlotte Yarn to East Blvd.  No pics.

Then we went to a market for Liz to buy Brett some of his favorite pastries.  I ate no sugar.  No pics.

We spent a good bit of time at Threads and More.  I just love Linda and the shop itself.  I bought a few balls of grey yarn to begin a planned scrumble project.  Linda asked me to let her know if Steve and I should come back because she would like me to teach some classes.  I was honored.  Liz swears we will be back; she has a feeling.  It would be fun to come again for a month or so.

But still no pics.

Then, driving around, sitting at a red light, I spotted this sign.

I broke up laughing.  Do they know what status quo actually means?  Or are they just terribly honest.  The condos looked nice.

Later we went to New Farm to a gallery show and parked across from this modest place.

I wonder who names these things.

We visited an exhibition by some wonderful local fiber artists.  Marion Douglas who works at Threads and More was one of them and her Nuno Felt pieces were just amazing.  Of course, they did not allow me to photograph them, but I will google and try to find you some of her work.  I just wish I had been able to take some classes from her.  Well, maybe when I come back . . .

Here’s a list of all the exhibitors:  Alwyn Bower; Elaine Campbell; Marion Douglas; Di Flint; Helen Forrest; Bernadine Hine; Daphne McKinnon; Cynthia Morgan; Joan Morrison; Susan Pietsch; Fran Robinson.

http://hatdesigns.blogspot.com/ Pic of Marion if you scroll down and some awesome felt work at this exhibit.  The blogger does some great hats.

Other links you should see:

Prudence Mapstone invited me to the December meeting of the Australian Textile Arts and Surface Design Association (ATASDA) here in Queensland as her guest.  I was ill and unable to go.  Today I stumbled on their website and had a peek at what I may have missed.  You must see this work.

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