Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A woolly scarf and an amazing dessert

So, just over a year after I started, I took off the cotton striped warp and the two scarves that I wove on it. I have washed and fringed the woolly one, and it is just lovely - I am really pleased with it.

The warp is very ordinary crochet cotton from Spotlight - quite thick - and it is black and white stripes at a 12 epi sett in a broken point threading. For weaving I just did a 2/2 twill, expecting a straight diagonal, but because of the broken point threading it has this lovely zig zag.

The weft is three different mohair blends - the yellow is plain but the grey and green are variegated. Of course on the ball they have a subtle blend through the shades but when you weave you wind it onto a shuttle, and then cut it, then start from that end. And when you finish, you wind up from the ball again, but where you start is NOT ANYTHING LIKE where you finished last time ... so it looks like there are these strong changes in colour.

Other people might have gathered that intuitively just from thinking about it for a moment, but it took me a few hours weaving before I figured that it was never going to give me the gradations I was after. Luckily I like the changes in colour, and the whole scarf is so fluffy and soft that I would forgive anything in the design. It is super snuggly.

And here is the amazing dessert; peanut butter parfait topped with dark chocolate mousse, then a salted caramel sauce and the whole thing was then sprinkled with peanuts. It was one of the best desserts I have ever had, and made by my very clever friend, at our Christmas in July on Saturday night. It was incredible....

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bird whisperer

Here is my husband hand-feeding a gang-gang parrot while the rainbow lorikeets are on the feeder. After I took this another dozen lorikeets flew down and pecked around on the ground - they are so pretty with their little orange heads and green feathers. The gang-gangs are very lovely and chatty, but he took a closer look at the massive beak and decided to go and put a leather gardening glove on. We've seen them snip through small branches and could probably do major damage to a finger or two.

We are at the time of year where the parent magpies are pushing the adolescents out of the nest, so both parents and young ones are extra keen on food. And extra grumpy with each other to try and get it.  So in the morning my husband the bird whisperer chops up bits of cheese then opens the kitchen window and feeds them as they hop along in turn. Parents first of course. He has had to leave early all week because of early work starts so I have been on magpie feeding duty. I wouldn't normally do it but they bang on the window until I do and I can't enjoy my coffee....

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


I should be writing a job application but I loathe it with every part of my being so I am procrastinating by blogging. Procrastiblogging. In the past I have also procrasticrafted, procrastibaked, procrastijogged and procrasticleaned. Number two son likes to procrasticuddle when you ask him to a do a chore. It's hard to be too cross.

The job is a promotion at my work and I haven't got a hope in hell of getting it, but sometimes you have to show that you're keen, just for the look of it. I doubt I'll even get an interview, which makes it hard to spend a lot of time polishing the application.

Anyway we are all back to school and work this week after some lovely beach time. I went down with number two son and two of his friends. Which was great, although I am not really attuned to fourteen year olds ... they spent a lot of time asleep, and a bit of time putting lemon juice in their hair to see if it would bleach (it didn't) and a lot of time staring at their phones. They did also go for walks and have a bonfire and even put their togs on and went to the creek for a swim! They are in the photo above, although only from a distance. It was super cold - below zero most nights and only about twenty during the day - but I think they were lured in by the sun.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Taller than Jesus

I have finally finished the green and blue courthouse steps that I started ages ago. This is the one where I decided to pre cut all the strips - unusually for me, I tend to chop away as I go - but got the maths horribly wrong and cut exactly half as many as I needed. Which made me cross, because I'd folded all the greens and blues up and put them away, but instead of cursing the whole project and throwing the blocks in the cupboard I got the fabric out again like a grown-up and cut some more strips.

The sewing was straightforward and I completely ignored value, which makes the courthouse steps pattern not nearly as obvious as it would be in a  traditional quilt. Just the colour to show it, green and blue.

The quilting is an overall clamshell. Like the Santa Fail and Autumn Rhymes with Boring, I just went for repeated simple shapes which I think looks good on solid quilts. I haven't finished with the solids yet - there is the sticks, and the triangle things, and I am currently sewing up a mixed solids and prints all in half square triangles. It is quite in your face, but I love it so far.

The name is for two reasons; firstly because I was having a bit of a Lloyd Cole fiesta and it's a lyric from "Holier than Thou" and secondly because at sixty inches square this quilt is almost certainly taller than Jesus. I googled "how tall was Jesus" which was a mistake because there are some lunatics on the internet, but generally anything over five foot is considered optimistic.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Weather-dependent weaving

I've picked up my loom again and been doing some weaving! Not literally picked up, but definitely literally dusted it off, it was a bit grubby. But I blew the dog hair off and started again on the cotton warp I loaded last June!! Over a year ago.  Luckily I wrote down exactly what I was doing because I had completely forgotten everything. Even some of the basics of weaving, but I went back to the excellent notes from my classes and everything fell into place eventually.

It was a five metre warp (two scarves) so I finished the red cotton first half and now I'm doing the second half  with fluffy wool in a simple two-two twill. I would quite like to finish this and move onto something different ... actually I am thinking about getting another rigid heddle loom like the little daggy one that I borrowed. It seems a bit strange to get a less complex bit of machinery - most people get more complex things - but I did enjoy the uncomplicated nature of plain weaving.

And it is weather-dependent weaving because the family room / kitchen where I have my loom is far and away the warmest part of the house. It's the only living area you can really shut off, and it has north-facing windows and a fierce little heater. It was minus seven at 6.30 this morning and that is cold. The days haven't been warming up either.  I went for a run yesterday morning; when I left the car at 10.00 am it was minus one - when I hopped back in at 11.00 am it had got up to positive one, but that's not really warm. I was warm (because fat and running) but there weren't many people out and about.

This is number two son MC-ing the end of semester awards ceremony at his high school. Apparently they have a script they are not meant to depart from although he did squeeze in a teacher-name-related pun, bless his heart. And he wore his best flannel shirt for the occasion....

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What I've been reading

Late last year it started to irritate me that I could never remember what books I'd read. I could remember characters, or plots, or settings but never anything useful like a title, or an author. Which is hopeless when you're trying to tell someone you've read an excellent book set in Greece, or about an old woman. I borrow my books from the Parliamentary Library, which has a small but perfectly formed fiction collection. And it's literally 100 metres from my desk ... talk about enabling. Even if I wanted to break the reading habit (which I don't) it would be impossible with my supplier downstairs giving it away for free.

Anyway the only bad thing about the library is that it's a primarily research library, not a lending one, so they don't have a record of what you've borrowed. So I whinged for a bit about not being able to keep track, then decided to do something about it and installed Goodreads. It has an excellent scan function, so now I'm in a routine where before I drop my books back I scan the barcode with the iPad camera and put the book in my "2018" shelf on Goodreads. It is very simple, and means I can tell you that for the first six months of 2018 I read the following 61 books (in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top):

Leonard Woolf: A Biography
Victoria Glendinning
The End of the Day
Claire North
The Women in Black
Madeleine St. John
Re Jane
Patricia  Park
Primary School Confidential: Confessions From the Classroom
Mrs. Woog
Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1)
Zen Cho
One Fifth Avenue
Candace Bushnell
We Are Not Ourselves
Matthew  Thomas
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce, #8)
Alan Bradley
Relatively Famous
Roger Averill
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
Syrie James
King of the Badgers
Philip Hensher
Where There's A Will
John Mortimer
Ink and Bone
Lisa Unger
An Unkindness of Ghosts
Rivers Solomon
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
Alan Bradley
The Passengers
Eleanor Limprecht
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce, #7)
Alan Bradley
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce, #2)
Alan Bradley
How Hard Can It Be? (Kate Reddy, #2)
Allison Pearson
Love & Fame
Susie Boyt
Dying: A Memoir
Cory Taylor
Too Close To Home
Georgia Blain
The Girl With All the Gifts
M.R. Carey
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman
This Side of Paradise
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)
Becky Chambers
Vivienne Kelly
Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris
Edmund White
A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)
Alan Bradley
The Supernatural Enhancements
Edgar Cantero
The Secret Recipe for Second Chances
J.D. Barrett
Jennifer Mills
The Wonder
Emma Donoghue
Breathless: An American Girl in Paris
Nancy K. Miller
The Days of Abandonment
Elena Ferrante
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer
Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)
Ernest Cline
Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro
Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell
Of Human Bondage
W. Somerset Maugham
Norse Mythology
Neil Gaiman
Wedding Night
Sophie Kinsella
Cosmo Cosmolino
Helen Garner
The Jane Austen Project
Kathleen A. Flynn
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)
Melina Marchetta
The Group
Mary McCarthy
Diary of a Provincial Lady
E.M. Delafield
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Claire North
Neil Gaiman
When We Were Orphans
Kazuo Ishiguro
The Outcasts of Time
Ian Mortimer
DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense
Joyce Carol Oates
Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)
Veronica Roth
Let Me Be Frank With You
Richard Ford
Rainbow Rowell
The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton
The Distant Hours
Kate Morton
I've Got Your Number
Sophie Kinsella
She's Not There
Joy Fielding
Then We Came to the End

Joshua Ferris

Most of them are reasonably lightweight - I read for pleasure not for learning - and I haven't included about another twenty that I started and then decided life was too short to read a boring book (most literary prize winners end up in this group because I am a philistine and book judges are mental). Also this list doesn't include the really crappy ones I download from the ACT public library for when I travel ... this is mostly anything by M.C. Beaton, the Phyrne Fisher series and many with the words 'regency' and 'romance' in the title. Embarrassing, but I can't read anything remotely intellectual in a plane or an airport. I think it's the avgas.

If I had to pick three books off this list as worth reading I would say The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which we did for book club and loved;  When We Were Orphans  - bits of which still stay with me randomly; and the most recent one - a biography of Leonard Woolf who I knew absolutely nothing about (and cared less to be honest) but Victoria Glendinning is such a superb biographer that I loved every page.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Santa Fail

So many years ago I made some improvised triangle things in sort of 'Santa Fe' colours - turquoise and ochre and fuchsia. But it didn't work out properly, and I didn't like the next border of chevrons so I chucked it in the bottom of a drawer and ignored it. As part of my current  drive to "use up what you have and stop shopping for god's sake" I pulled it out of the drawer, whacked some borders on it and finished it off.

I'm still not a super big fan of it. The triangles are a bit odd - they look a bit haphazard and blobby. I didn't want to put anything complicated around it, so it's just a plain border or two and some half-square triangles.

The quilting is circles of different sizes ... or at least they're meant to be circles! I don't think I picked the most even bit of quilting to take a photo of, some of them are quite like real circles. It's all freehand, in case you can't tell...

I've been trying for a while to find a time without rain or a line full of washing, but this morning I gave up and got my husband to hold it. Unfortunately the quilt had been in the sofa in the "yet to be photographed" spot for slightly too long and when I went to find it it had gone ... unearthed on number two's bed after five minutes searching, but it does look a bit rumpled. The name might be a bit harsh but I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Minus two minus three minus four

Goddamn there have been some frosty mornings here in the wintry capital. It makes for good sleeping ... but hard getting out of bed. We've gone into the winter parliamentary break which is an excellent chance to get some actual work done, and has the added advantage of being able to lower the dress standard, and wear woolly cardigans to work. And fluffy socks.

Number two son had a couple of friends to sleep over on Friday night. This is their nest in front of the TV - I think they were off destroying the kitchen at the time. Not that I'm complaining, they tidied up and put the dishwasher on! The influence of better parents than I am. It's the last week of term and it's showing the difference between year 9 (movie appreciation and chocolate brownies) and year 11 (assessments and stress). It'll be nice for them to have a wee winter break too.