Saturday, May 31, 2008

First time I was too scared to try

Blythe sewing

Yesterday I was made an offer that was very hard to turn down.

The equivalent of more than a year's pay, and a small pension for the rest of my life. All this in exchange for promising to quit my job, pack up my bike locker and my desk, and not return to the Australian Public Service for 12 months.

Since I found out my job was on the line two weeks ago, I've been kidding myself that I'm a career public servant and that I really want to stay and learn and grow - especially when I've barely been able to stomach turning up to work for the last four months.

It's time to move on, move out, take a long break, discover what I really want to do when I grow up. Set up my crafty business, do some more sewing, design some more crochet, live life, love life, get healthy and be a better person. It's all so very scary, not knowing if I'll ever work in the public service again, if I'll ever work full-time again, if I'll ever get to executive level again.

But I think I owe it to myself and to the one I love the most.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The fox went out on a chilly night


When I was in Mansfield last week, I wore this fox brooch on my vest. My nephews, who have been brought up on various farms from Victoria to Western Australia and back again, pulled me down to their height and stroked it. They asked what it was doing. I told them it was jumping down a fox hole, but they wouldn't have a bar of it.

"It should have wire on the brooch", said Jack, aged 7.

"Yeah! Wire where the back legs are!" said Aaron, aged 4.

We were all a bit puzzled by this, but then my sister-in-law grasped what they were on about. Foxes which are caught and killed on farms are hung up by their back legs on the wire fences.

Of course.

The fox brooch was promptly turned around so it was jumping over my shoulder. The boys were much happier with this scenario.


Yesterday I went to the Festival of the Alpacky at EPIC. In the Fitzroy Pavilion, it was like a real live version of Cute Overload. Oh, they were so soft! Their big brown bulging eyes just gazed at me lovingly. I'd been warned before I left home that I was not to come home with a furry friend of the alpacky type, but it was hard to resist and I am only thankful I had a few dollars in my wallet and not $2000. Whew. He has no idea how close I came. Fortunately there was yummy yarn to take my mind off the cuteness factor.

In "I finished this" news, look what we have here!

Slouchy hat #2 is finished

Hot Cross Slouchy Beret by Jennifer Appleby in Interweave Crochet, Winter 2007
Yarn: Lincraft Balmoral (75% wool 25% nylon) in light grey, about 1 3/4 balls.
Hook: 4.25mm bamboo
Notes: I made this hat with two less pattern repeats, left a whole decreasing repeat out because I skipped a line in the pattern (oops) and added a decreasing row in the crown to make up for it. Happy accidents, but it all worked out well. I am really happy with this hat - it's certainly a lot more stylish than the hats I normally wear.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In a bar full of self pity

The pity party is over, friends! It's time to be creative, and inspiration is all around me.


I took a walk down the street yesterday to pick up a gorgeous pod from
Olivia. I cradled it in my hand all the way home. Words cannot describe how lovely it is to hold one of Olivia's pods in your hands, and they look so pretty too. If she hasn't already sold them all, do yourself a favour.

Fabric inspiration

On my trip to Melbourne last month, I was supposed to go fabric shopping with my friend
Christina, but at the last minute her house move got in the way of a fun day out together. So I went shopping by myself and bought enough fabric to keep me in trouble for quite some time. I remember when I started quilting 12 or so years ago, and the dire choice fabrics we had to deal with then. You were either "country" or "brights" or "pansies". God, what a choice. Now there is fabric everywhere, and it's just amazing the designs you can find. Any designer who can put hedgehogs on fabric is OK with me.

Slouchy Beret # 2 - WIP

My second version of the slouchy beret is almost finished. I'm wondering if I can finish it before I walk up to the
alpaca show later this morning.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My daddy's name's Floyd, he was unemployed

Wow. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes yesterday.

Sometimes I wonder how I manage to keep such a positive attitude (well, I try even though I do love a good whinge). This morning I woke up to a cracking case of laryngitis. It was pretty bad - it freaked out my doctor when he called me, and he told me to take some panadol and STOP TALKING - but I was managing. Until I spent almost two hours with
Cathy this afternoon nattering away (poor Cathy - my raspy voice was probably equivalent to listening to fingernails on a blackboard) and found when I came home that I had no voice left.


It's not easy being silent when you are me. I love to talk. If talking were a sport in the Olympics yadda yadda yadda. Suddenly I had to email people instead of calling them. Patricia called me on my mobile and I could only whisper - I had to get Mr Quiltingmick to call her back and translate my whispers. Can laryngitis be stress-related?. On top of the weekend away with the family, getting gastro, the stress of the surgery and the stress of working in a pretty awful job, I found out a week ago that the Federal Budget had taken my position away. Oh well, I suppose that's one problem solved.

Anne scarf - WIP

Along with visits with lovely friends, the colour green improved my day somewhat. This is a scarf made using the pattern "Anne" by MK Carroll. Could there be a more confusing pattern? When I started it a couple of months ago I got to the second row and just stopped. It didn't make sense and it wasn't possible to go any further. I emailed the designer and it turns out there was a mistake which everyone else knew about except for me. Great. So I started again and even though each motif is written confusingly in the one single step (which reminds me of people who write long paragraphs without punctuation), it's turned into a great little pattern. Certainly it's easy enough to remember, which is good as the less I have to read that pattern the better.

The yarn is Waratah Fibre I bought at the fibre day at OBDM last July. I think it's Merino and Leicestershire or something. It's very pretty. It has a hempy kind of texture when I crocheting with it, but it turns out to make a very soft and squishy fabric.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I am weary, let me rest

I had a little surgery this morning and right now I am feeling all puffy and bruised and sore and ugly and, naturally, sorry for myself. It's times like these I need to spend money for instant gratification. I'm sure you all understand how spending money on nice things gives you a warm huggy feeling. Alas, leaving the house isn't an option at the moment so I'm forced to make do with what I have here, and some online shopping. So far I've bought a subscription to mixtapezine and World Sweet World. Both amazing publications, but I won't get them for weeks and weeks.

It's probably just as well. I broke the yarn diet a couple of months ago so I've decided to use the
Rose Red Method of Stash Honesty to make me a little more accountable. Stay tuned at the end of the month. Even though I bought 8 balls on the family reunion tour last weekend, I've crocheted a fair bit and I'm giving away a fair whack of stuff. Plus I have 6 more days of taking it easy to crochet up a storm and use the stuff up.

Last week I finished another slouchy hat.

Slouchy beret - finished

Hot Cross Slouchy Beret by Jennifer Appleby in Interweave Crochet, Winter 2007
Yarn: Twilley's Freedom Spirit, not quite 2 balls.

Slouchy beret - finished

Hook: 4.25mm bamboo
Notes: I made this hat with one less pattern repeat, basing the decision on comments from others on Ravelry who had made the same hat. While my noggin may be huge, my hair is not so I didn't want a total rasta look. Unfortunately the hat still came out too big and doesn't suit me. I won't be frogging though, mainly because frogging Twilley's Freedom is nigh on impossible without tears. So I'll just wait for a big-haired friend to lay claim to it.

Anyway, I'm making another with less repeats. Incidentally I completely stuffed the pattern up but it's actually looking great, so I'll continue on in my merry haphazard way.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Please don't dig my grave too deep

Ah, Mansfield. Such a gorgeous little town in the high country of Victoria. So scenic. The smell of woodsmoke. The chill in the air. The friendliness of the townsfolk.

On the way to Mt Buller

And so bloody cold I think I am still defrosting. *

We were there for a long weekend of family reunions. Mr QM's folks had turned 80 earlier in the year, and given one of the brothers owns a motel there, it seemed like the perfect place to gather. And it was. Don't get me wrong. But the weather was so damn frigid, I'm not too sure having a barbie for lunch on a day when it didn't peak above 6 degrees was such a great idea.

Exhibit A - the guests of honour and their nine offspring. We had to disrobe them all of several items of warm clothing each just so we could recognise who was who in the family photo.

The Family, close to freezing point

And there were kids. Lots and lots of cute nieces and nephews and grand-nieces. Like my grand-niece Eve. We became each other's biggest fans over the weekend.


And my nephew Aaron, the best behaved little boy you could ever meet.


Ever since I arrived home on Sunday night I've been crook, first with a cold, then with gastro. A phone call from one of the brothers to Mr QM last night began with "so, how is everyone in your house feeling?" When Mr QM told him that I was at that point in bed after upchucking myself stupid all afternoon, it turned out that I was family gastro victim number 10, at last count. Brilliant. That's the third time in recent years I've come away from an in-law family gathering with gastro.

If that's not a sign to avoid these things, I don't know what is.

* Would love to have shown you all a photo of the deep snow on Mt Buller, but I wasn't allowed to drive all the way up the mountain due to a certain screeching, panicking back seat driver who may or may not have been my mother-in-law. Of course, the rest of the family, not being as privileged as I in having her in their back seat, got all the way to the top and had a GREAT TIME. And they were more than happy that night to tell me that I got within 200 metres of the top. Bastards.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Just a little skite

Big excitement this morning, as one of my photos was included in an article on the Sal Pellegrino website.


I'm kicking myself that I didn't ask for a crate of Chinotto as payment.

The garden is keeping me very busy, and I have some test crocheting to do for a designer. I'm just not inspired enough to blog at the moment, so I'll be off the air for a little while. Be happy, friends.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A time to sew

Overlocker - Janome 203 three spool

My pal, the lovely Lara over at Thornberry, is doing some guest blogging at Sew, Mama, Sew! this week. If you have ever wanted to know about dress making patterns and how they work, go over there right now! You won't be sorry. Lara has managed to completely demystify a very scary part of sewing for beginners. Hooray for Lara!

And I have been meaning to link to this for a while - Erin from A Dress A Day wrote a post sometime ago about learning to sew, but it's actually much more than that. It's a guide to getting yourself organised to sew a garment. It is basic. Really. But the way Erin explains it, it's like this giant bolt of lightening has just struck you and cleared all your senses. Getting all your notions and stuff together before you sew? Genius. Obvious, but genius (obviously I don't do this, or I wouldn't be raving so much).

Erin also wrote an excellent post on choosing a sewing machine. Go. Now. Have fun.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This is ... the pair of shoes that I would sleep in if I could

Round two of the "This is ..." meme.

This is ... the pair of shoes that I would sleep in if I could

The thing is, I wouldn't sleep in them. I don't like things on my feet when I'm in bed, including socks.

But comfortable they are. Favourite shoes ever.

This is ... me pre-1985

Trying to find photos of myself before 1985, I came across a big box of, well, memories. Photos of the crowd I used to hang around with when I first moved to Canberra; Patricia, Naf and I in the snow at Corin Forest ... and a whole swag of locker love letters from the ex to me. At uni, I was locker #49, and he was #101. He used to leave me beautiful notes of love and let me know where to find him in the all-night reading room or the library, or tell me he'd meet me after my geography lecture at 1.50 pm outside the Central Lecture Theatre. Sigh. Such beauty at the tender age of 19. Shame he turned out to be such an arse.

Anyway, I eventually shook myself out of my melancholy and found this photo. I think it is either 1984 or 1985 when I was 14 or 15 and our dog Faby had given birth to nine Dobermann puppies. Boris was last one we let go of - he had a few skin issues. He was also ginormous.

Me in either 1984 or 1985

Things to note - the hair. My god, the hair.Mum made that skirt for me out of an apple green polka dot polypop - I love how the voluminous pockets are engulfing Boris' tail. Loved that skirt. I think was on my way to Sunday school that morning.

Here's another photo, this time with my brother and Faby. Note the bare feet. North Queensland in the 80s, friends.

David and I with the dogs

Saturday, May 3, 2008

And I wait under the willow tree

Today was a beautiful day. Perfect. And a great day to pick some olives at our friend's house. I said "Wow, look at that sky!" often, and everyone agreed.

Olive picking

Olive picking

This is Dexter. He was no help at all with picking olives, but he sure did look adorable (when he wasn't trying to surprise us with dog poop land mines, that is).

Dexter the super dog

We (well, actually Julie, as we had to leave early for an appointment) are going to pickle the olives in brine, and hopefully in 12 months we'll be enjoying olives with my feta.

I spied the recipe for chocolate slice over at
SadieandLance the other day. I used to make this slice all the time as a kid, but had lost the recipe. Thanks SadieandLance for finding it again for me! I made it today. It's delish.

Chocolate slice

The garden designer turned up just a half an hour ago and he left with a couple of slices for his dessert. Another friend just minutes ago dropped off our olive bucket and she's also left with some. Hopefully the chocolate slice will be enjoyed all over the inner north tonight.

Aaaaand ... I started a new sock last night. I'd had a migraine for 5 days by this stage and it was slowly starting to ebb thanks for the physio appointment I had in the afternoon. I wasn't up to starting the lapels on the purple thing, so I started this instead. I'm using some gorgeous Meilenweit 100 Multiringel which Bells gifted me a little while ago. Thanks mate! I love it, and it's in my favourite colours (but you already knew that).

A new sock

Friday, May 2, 2008


The final day of colour week, and once again I'm forced to dip into the archives. Enjoy some blue, wherever you are!

Wattle and the blue sky

One of my favourite things about Canberra is the blue, blue sky you get, especially in the depths of winter and into early spring. Even after 17 years of living here, I still say "Wow, look at that sky" every morning. It must drive people nuts.


My Electra Townie bike, in electric baby blue.


A quilt I made my aunty in memory of my Nana. They loved having cups of tea together.


The fountain at Union Station, Los Angeles. So, so beautiful.

Thanks Leya for such a great colour week! I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Red and pink

More colour from the flickr archives.


Bruschetta on a hot summer day.

Crochet socks #2

Red and pink happy feet.


Red and pink have always reminded me of the tropics. Case in point: a meke in Fiji.



I'm a man in a caravan by the sea

Usually the months leading up to and into winter are quiet. So quiet I end up hibernating until spring, because you know, why the hell not?

However, a quick scan of my little diary over the next few weeks reveals a trip to Mansfield for a family do, a pre-wedding party at the Lobby, a concert at Tilleys, my nephew's 2nd birthday, Scott's 39th birthday, a swathe of medical tests, some minor surgery and a week off work as a result.

And we're only up to the 24th of May so far.

In June I have a trip to Cairns, a trip to the footy in Sydney, more medical appointments because God knows I haven't spent enough in the last few weeks, my dad's birthday, my brother's birthday and PLEASE SWEET JESUS LET IT BE a new and better job (hopefully).

You'd think with all this I'd be happy just lying on the sofa the rest of the time. But no. Oh nooooo.

I'm trying to work out where I can fit in a weekend to Tuross around the 19th May for Scott's birthday.

Actually, maybe that sofa isn't such a bad idea.