Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Babies, Birds & Chuck Norris

There's been a sad lack of crochet- centric posts from me lately.
I actually have been crocheting non-stop but some things I couldn't show you as they were gifts, and some things have been works in progress which I didn't feel were worth a whole post.

The first thing I've recently finished was a gift.

Every Saturday morning I take Sonofagun No.2 to swimming lessons. I sit and knit socks.

He was initially in a class with 2 brothers. I made friends with their lovely mum.  They had immigrated from Pakistan a couple of years earlier.

She is such a lovely, warm lady. And although she may be about 10 years younger than me, has a habit of calling me 'Dear' as if she was my granny. 

We would often chat about our kids, their schools, and she would share her delicious recipes for biryani and curries with me.

The first time she invited Sonofagun No.2 and I over to her home for a playdate, she cooked this amazing spread of food including biryani, chicken curry, homemade naan, and spicy rolls.  So much effort and I even had a pot of warm vermicelli kheer to take home for the Bear. Kheer can be made with rice or vermicelli and is a milky dessert pudding with the flavours of cardamom and ginger. 

She also spoke of her desire to have another baby. So I was absolutely thrilled when she told me earlier this year that she was expecting a baby!

He decided to arrive 5 weeks early in late October. Luckily I did not leave anything to the last minute (like I normally do) and had already finished this cot blanket for him.

It was a simple design. One row of double crochet stitches, then one granny stripe row.

I had ordered some Stylecraft Special DK from the Woolwarehouse in the UK and used some of these colours with some DK colours from one of our local stores Spotlight.

101 rows in total. 

It has a basic border of 2 rows of single crochet, then row of fan stitch with 5 double crochet stitches per fan.

Another project I have been working on which I occasionally mentioned is birds.

I had an idea in my head. Bright and colourful. Mini parrots.

 I started off with a basic design, but was never satisfied with the result.
So I'd make another.

 I tried using a bigger yarn. Scheepjes Catona.
 But I wasn't happy with it. Too chunky.
 I really like this little pink one, but wanted something a bit sturdier.
 I also really liked this one, but wanted a different body shape.

 They're made from thin crochet cottons. Some using Scheepjes Maxi Sweet Bites, and various other crochet cottons.
You should see my notebook. Full of edits, re-edits and re-re-edits! Then there's the multiple rewrites in different coloured pens with titles such as 'Prototype No.15'.Now I think I'm finally happy with the design.

 They have a fat little parrot beak. So I've started referring to them as 'Amazona Parrots'.

 Multi-coloured wings and tail feathers.
 And I sewed on a small alligator clip. Perfect for the Christmas tree maybe?
 I kind of adore them!

I need to finally pull my finger out and write up this pattern which I am going to sell in my Etsy store along with the Pearly Hummingbird pattern.  
Aren't they sweet? I just love them! 

Even though this post has been all about the crochet, I want to show off our newest family member...

May I introduce Chuck Norris...

He's a 6 or 7 year old Pug x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

And he's so freaking adorable!

We adopted him from a family who are moving and sadly cannot take him with them. He is the happiest little dog! He was already called 'Chucky' but we've modified his name a little bit.

He loves cuddles, isn't yappy or slobbery but seems to be rather over-enthusiastic about the guinea pigs. We've had to put up a small fence around their hutch as he has trampled all the herbs around it as he attempts to 'play' with them.

So far his attempt at making friends with our cat Bijoux have been unsuccessful. She's not really a dog person.

The Red Haired Amazona

Sunday, 14 October 2018

New Growth & Family Farewells

There's a perfectly good reason why there has been a lack of crochet related posts from me lately.


That is the reason.

When Spring fully hits, I am out in the garden planting all of the things and smelling the glorious flowers.

This Spring has been particularly busy as I have finally been able to landscape the front garden which was an eyesore. Every time I stepped outside and looked at the red gravel and weeds, my soul wept.

Last blog post I showed you a pic of the plans I drew up for the front garden.
They have mostly been executed but with some changes.

We moved back the front line of sleepers by about 80cm. The garden was on a slope which was 50cm lower then the front porch. We moved the sleepers back from their planned edge, planted a row of hedging plants along the front of the sleeper edge, then used the sleepers as a retaining wall behind them. The idea is they will grow into a nice hedge that will hide the retaining wall and grow around the mailbox into a nice green wall. 3 cubic metres of premium topsoil, 1.5 cubic metres of mulch, and a few plants later....
The hedging plants are New Zealand Mini Xmas bush (Metrosideros excelsa Dwarf Mini Christmas)
The original size of the grass area which has yet to be planted is smaller than I intended but less grass means more garden!

Because the front garden bed on the house side of the retaining wall is now narrower, I decided not to plant the small trees along the front. As they grew, their roots would push out the wall. But I've left in the tree plantings on the left and right to try and cut out the wind that howls down the street.

It was also my birthday! Yes, I am an October baby. And I was spoilt by my lovely family. Amongst all the things, my Nana gave me a lovely card and some money so I raced down to the garden centre and bought this beautiful flowering crabapple tree for the front yard.

My gorgeous Bear found these rather unique garden statues for me!
"I find your lack of fertiliser disturbing..."
"These aren't the tomato plants we were looking for..."
"Patience you must have, my young foxgloves..."
"Beep bloop bop bleep boop weeeeee..."
"I am fluent in over 6 million forms of communication...including the secret language of flowers..."
My lovely Best Bloggy Buddy Vicki from Off The Hook For You sent me some amazing pressies in the post all the way from Jolly Old England! 
The big tea towel with all the UK waterways looks too special to dry pots and pans. So the Bear and I decided we would find a frame for it and hang it on the wall!

Did you see those beautiful skeins from West Yorkshire Spinners?  And lovely UK Sausage recipe book. We were drooling!

We've also had a couple of weeks of school holidays but instead of spending the time at home crocheting, I was busy landscaping and also spent some time at Wilsons Promontory.
We travelled to Waratah Bay at Wilsons Promontory for 4 days to meet up with family and spend time catching up, laughing, drinking and remembering.  
We met up with my parentals, my sister and her kids, my Uncle and Aunts and cousins from my dads side of the family.

Wilsons Promontory is in Victorias' Gippsland region, east of Melbourne. It is beautiful. Green fields, black and white cows, country lanes lined with flowers. We stayed in cabins at the Waratah Bay Caravan Park.

Lots of BBQs, catching up, drinking, laughing and hugs were happening. We have gathered there once before when I was pregnant with Sonofagun No.2 about 10 years ago.  

The story is that when my Fatherdom and his 4 brothers were kids growing up in Melbourne, they used to spends weeks over the summer holidays camping there with their parents and grandmother. They loved it and many of them would travel back often with their own families.

10 years ago when one of his brothers, my Uncle Peter passed away, we gathered there and scattered his ashes on the beach at Waratah Bay.

As you can see of this photo of me back then, very pregnant under a yellow plastic disposable raincoat, it can get kind of windy. 

So windy in fact that when Petes family walked all the way down to the oceans edge to do the scattering of the ashes, the wind blew them out to sea. Then decided to change direction and blew them all back in again. 

Into our faces.

So this time we gathered to scattered the ashes of my Uncle David who passed away very suddenly last year. My aunt Libby (whom I Wuthered with in July) thought it would be lovely to also scatter the ashes of my uncle Davo at Waratah Bay as well, but wisely decided that we didn't want Davo to potentially be blowing all over us, so had his ashes placed in a lovely biodegradable box. It is specially designed to be placed in water, then 'disperse' in a tasteful and organic way.

Ok. So on the occasion we decided to do this, it wasn't particularly windy. But the water was icy cold. 
Sonofagun No.2 thought it would be fun to go and wade in the water. Around where my Aunt and cousins were carrying the little blue box.  

Therefore I followed discreetly saying, "Sonofagun No.2! Come back here please."

Then I'd kind of grab his hand, mutter kind of sternly but in that voice parents use in public:

"DARLING (in a lovely but growling undertone). I told you we're here to scatter ashes. Please stop running around like a lunatic!"

"Yes Mum."  Then off he'd go again! Prancing and frolicking in the waves around everyone who were about to cast the box into the water. 
"Darling precious cherub! Please stop frolicking in water that's fresh from Antarctica whilst your 2nd cousin is trying to discourage Uncle Davo from surfing." (photo taken by Auntie Marg)

And because I had to follow, wearing normal clothes, I was now saturated up to my waist in the icy sea. 

My Aunt and cousins cast the box into the waves. It floated gently on the surface. We said our goodbyes to our much loved Uncle David. It was so special to be together as a family on this day. His beautiful wife Libby, his 3 sons, daughter in law and grandson, his brothers, sisters in law, nieces, great nieces and great nephews all together to say farewell.

I don't recall my Uncle Davo ever surfing. Or knowing how to surf. But surf he did. Back towards the shore.

Numerous efforts  were made to encourage Uncle Davo to surf out to sea. But the lightness of the box, and its' resistance to immediately dissolving and dissipating in the water meant he happily floated and bobbed back in.  

For about 10 minutes the blue box bobbed up and down on the surface, surfed the waves back into shore where it was 'encouraged' back out again by my aunt and cousins.

Finally his eldest son waded out, pushing the box in front of him, then after gingerly attempting to push it down did the only sensible thing.

He pushed it down and stepped on it.

It soaked up the water and stopped surfing.

We stood by the oceans' shore for a good 20-30 mins afterwards. Some passersby might have thought we were reflecting on the wonderous life of my Uncle David. 

And we were.

Vietnam Veteran of the 161 (Indep) Recce Flight in 1967 and in Malaya from 1969-71. 
Father to 3 beautiful sons. World traveller. Acquirer of classic vinyls. Volunteer guide at the Australian War Memorial.
A Legend of Eccentricity who was never afraid to wear a good Tintin t-shirt or rainbow helicopter hat, who took me to my first opera and always called me Fred.

But we were also watching to make sure that the two old ladies in bathers who had wandered up didn't decide to go swimming in that general area. 

The Red Haired Amazona

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Blossoms, Vegies, Yarn.

We have some blossom action happening in my garden at the moment. The Peach that I'm going to espalier has 6 or 7 little blossoms. I still haven't had the heart to give it a first proper espalier- prune because of these sweet little pink flowers.
The Apricot tree is now about 3 years old and has lots more blossoms than last year. And they smell faintly apricoty!
And below this lovely white thing is a Mariposa Plum. I gave it a vase- like hair cut a month ago. Now it's exploding!
I haven't seen many bees around to help pollinate the blossoms. 

They gotta have the flower sex to make the fruit, right?

So I decided to go around with a cotton tip and do it myself, but I felt like I was being inappropriate with the poor little flowers so I decided to leave it to the bees.

The Cumquat (aka the world's most useless fruit tree) has 4 cumquats. I dont eat marmalade so can't use it for that. They're too bitter to eat straight. Any suggestions?
I have a batch of different tomato varieties waiting until the soil warms. Black and red ones, pear shaped ones, yellow ones.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought these cute, yummy capsicums from the supermarket. They're sweet and delicious! 
I kept the seeds, dried them on the windowsill, and planted them in some toilet rolls from my bathroom (the empty rolls from the kids toilet always seem to have wee splashes INSIDE them. How the heck does that happen???). When they sprout and are big enough I can stick the whole thing in the ground as the rolls are cardboard.
The spinach continues to grow unmolested by snails and slugs thanks to copious amounts of crushed egg shells, coffee grounds and a teensy bit of snail bait.
The shallots are doing well too.
I am totally in love with the bulbs that have sprung up.
And now for your veiwing pleasure, some unadulterated flower porn...

I can't show you my front yard. It's just an abomination. It kills my soul to look at it! 
It's mostly gravel. There is an attempt at garden beds which I planted things into last spring, but the soil is so clayish and the wind blows through making everything look withered and sad.
The Bear promised me the first weekend in October for a landscaping blitz to buy fresh soil, remove the gravel, set down proper garden beds etc. So I dusted off my rusty landscape design skills, poured myself a nice, long gin & elderflower cocktail and drew this little sketch.
I do have a general idea of what is going to be planted in, but haven't written them down in a key yet. I'm thinking the pink tree shapes will be flowering cherries. The big tree thing on the left is a Jacaranda which is a little ambitious as it's a small yard. A sweet osmanthus hedge along the front, an assortment of marguerites and pelargoniums (which are already there) and some other small trees such as crepe myrtles and something evergreen, and a nice bit of grass. 
Maybe a random assortment of hellebores and other perennials throughout.
The idea is that it will be like a garden room. Not completely closed off to the street, but a little bit private. What do you think? I'm open to suggestions!

So the yarn. I have three projects on the go at the moment!

This is my 'watching movies/ bingeing on Netflix' project:

A friend of mine is expecting a baby. She's a lovely lady who I met at Sonofagun No.2s swimming class. She and her family moved here from Pakistan and she doesn't have many friends here yet. She already has two gorgeous boys and every Saturday morning we chat about how our kids are going at school, she tells me how to make her delicious curries and I tell her that she needs to give her hubby a kick up the ass so he helps a bit more (because I'm an opinionated lady who likes to tell other women to give their husbands a kick up the ass because my fella is so awesome and I want their fellas to be awesome too but I really should shut up and mind my own business.)
So I'm making a cot blanket for her little one who is due in November.
I finished a pair of socks that I started in JANUARY. Yes, I know. Very poor form. But it was put aside a few times. The yarn is a nice, cosy sock yarn called Schachenmayr Regia which I bought at Morris & Sons in the city. I'm still using the Winwick Mum Sockalong tutorial to make my socks. Christines' tutorial is so easy to follow!
This is my train commute project:
Another pair of socks! Although I'm a little frustrated because I keep stuffing up one sock by dropping 1 stitch, then noticing the dropped stitch 5 rows later and having to frog it back. Twice so far.  Frogging knitting is the worst! 
This yarn is called Opal 'Colors In Love'.
And this is my Wednesday project:  My little bird pattern.
I'm continuing to work on my new little birds but I'm still not happy with the body shape.
This little one was 'prototype No.3'.
I love the colours but not the beak or the body. I'm trying to make him more parrot like!
Because it's Spring, I decided to Spring clean. And because #priorities I started with the yarn shelves.
The blue buckets are filled with neatly rolled remnant balls and craft supplies. All my cottons are in that wooden case I showed you a couple of weeks ago.
Don't they look pretty and neat? Then I decided that Spring Cleaning the rest of the house was too much effort. The yarn is tidy but the rest of the house is a dogs breakfast. 
And can you believe that exactly one year ago today I was jetting off to New York? I watch a tv show with Sonofagun No.1 called Person of Interest which was filmed all over New York. 

I annoy him by saying, "I've been there!" at least 3 times each episode. Although secretly between you and me, I think out of the 27 episodes we've watched so far, I had only been to 2 of the places shown. It's a mothers prerogative to mildly irritate her teenagers several times a day as payback for years of their annoying questions (are we there yet? what's for dinner? why are your boobs sooo much fatter than Harrys mums?), farts, dirty socks left everywhere, and pee on the toilet floor.
So that's the catch up! Thanks for stopping by. I'm soooo happy Spring is finally here!

The Red Haired Amazona