29 February 2008

Squishous Green

I just had to post something on the 29th February :)

To celebrate the opening my new Knitting Art online shop (Australia-based - for blank Knitting Art cards; also for wholesale including export), I am going to start offering some of my Knitting Art original paintings for sale!

It is surprisingly hard to part with my paintings, I get very attached to them... but I will do some similar designs to my more popular paintings (eg Shiraz Socks), as well as new artworks. I will offer a range of sizes too, to hopefully accommodate more pockets - so this first one is very small, and hopefully affordable for someone.

The first little morsel on offer is Green Wool ... seen here in progress, and then finished. And no, the copyright watermark is not on the original painting, it's for online protection :)

Green Wool in progress
Green Wool
Full details on size and so on are here. Basically, it's on an A5 piece of paper (imperial measurements are on the shop page). If you prefer the cheaper option, I'm just starting to put this image onto CafePress - there will more more products in the next few days. I've also added bags with two different paintings on the front and back, and many more Summer Collection goodies!

Lastly, here is the first rose off Lily's rose bush ... it is a King's Ransom Hybrid Tea Rose, and smells lovely! I know very little about roses; hopefully the cultivar name means something to some of you!

Lily's rose

28 February 2008

Colour Jejune's Hair

I'm doing this - colouring my hair not shaving - something to help support the Leukaemia Foundation, who are supporting my lovely dear Uncle Tony...

At the moment you can make credit card donations via my page. Sometime next week I will have books of writey things which will allow me to accept donations of cash, cheque or BPay. But online is easiest!

So please find it in your heart to set aside a ball of sock yarn (just one) and instead help support families with leukaemia, and the search for a cure.

You can have your say in what colour I go - it's in the sidebar, just down on the right - see it? Yup... vote away! I shall do the deed on Saturday 15 March!

Thank you.

26 February 2008

Melbourne Day Trip

On Saturday my dad B, his wife K, and I flew to Melbourne - the city of my birth, which I left when I was 1 month old (cruel parents ignored my protests!). The day went perfectly, from the flight out at 6.40 am, to arriving back in Canberra at 8 pm.

When we got into the city, we walked up from Spencer Street Station into the main city, and hunted out the Caffe Cortile, which Kuka had recommended - I just love the little alleyways and lanes with cafes and tiny cosy restaurants... this is the view from our seat at Cortile, out across the tiny alleyway.

I threw any sensible eating out for the day, and had Vanilla French Toast with bacon, grilled banana and real maple syrup! Bacon with maple syrup is something I have loved since my Connecticut childhood (yes, I am Australian, we just moved to the States when I was 4 - my dad was at Yale). This was extremely yummy!! Thanks Kuka for an excellent recommendation!

The main event for the day, of course, was visiting my favourite Uncle T in the Oncology Ward of the Royal Melbourne Hospital (that's it below). I think it's fair to say we were all so happy to see each other, and it was great to spend a decent amount of time with him, and see how well he's doing, all things considered. He has an amazingly pro-active attitude, and a top class medical team - if anyone can beat this, it's him. I helped him set up a blog (just for close friends and family, so I won't share the URL), and he totally loved the neck pillow I made, and is using it.

At lunch time the three of us Canberrans hopped on the tram (OMFG, a public transport system that WORKS, and is inexpensive, and runs frequently - pay attention Action Buses!!!) and went to the Queen Victoria Markets. Wow. It's huge.

This is a pic of one tiny section of the covered food hall section ... all these old little shops with pull-down shutters, and yummy things of all descriptions. Cheeses, olives, South African foods, butchers, teas, coffees, hot food, bakeries, and lots more. We walked all through nearly the entire Markets (food / fresh fruit & veg / clothing / and heaps more besides). This took quite some time! I was looking for coin hip scarves for Dotter and me, for belly dancing class - I'd just given up, when K saw them on a stall! We now have a lovely dark brown and dark blue one. Yay!

After a healthy vegetarian zucchini Lebanese roll thingy, I bought something different from the main bakery - it's a Czech Kolace. Oh. My. Glod. This was SO yummy! It had 4 fillings - cream cheese in the centre, then cherry, then nuts (walnuts I think?), and then the big dark section near the crust is poppy seed. The pastry wasn't too sweet either, more like a sweet bread than rich pastry. I'm going to have to learn to make this ...

After lunch we did a bit more time in the city centre (love the architecture - old mixed well with modern) - and then headed back to the hospital. We had another hour and a bit with Uncle T, plus my cousin T and his partner S showed up too, so it was a very cosy gathering!

We got back to the airport in good time, and were home by 8 pm. My pencil knitting needles got through airport security without a mention, but I didn't knit on the plane this time. I was able to knit at the hospital, though, which was my aim.

The only bad thing to happen was I left my Branching Out lace alpaca/silk scarf at the Caffe Cortile! I didn't realise I'd left it behind for hours - thankfully, when I called them, they did have it, and my cool cousin T picked it up for me yesterday. Phew!!!

I must say I really really loved Melbourne. I haven't visited in over 20 years (!!), and it's just brilliant - the city centre has this really European feel to it, with lane ways and little cafes where you know you could sit for hours sipping nice drinks and reading. I liked what people wore - a bit more of a funky / cool feel to the fashion than you see in Canberra - and the transport system is brilliant. I liked the trees along the main boulevards, and could just imagine Phryne Fisher gadding about in all her glory. I'd move there in an instant if the opportunity arose.

21 February 2008

Flowers and thanks

Thank you everyone for you kind comments, and love and hugs. I really appreciate them all.

Taph and HappySpider sent - very appropriately, white lilies. Thank you ladies, they are so beautiful, and it was a very touching surprise.

And we were completely bowled over when this Gardenia bush arrived from Lily's veterinary hospital! She had many friends, that little dog.

Here is Lily's grave, with the bush rose on top. It's about to bloom, so hopefully I will have some yellow roses to show you soon. The blue & white bird on watch over Lily is one I made in ceramics class some years ago.

We're missing her in funny ways - like how we have to clean up food that falls onto the floor now - our furry vacuum cleaner is no longer there!

I've just about finished the neck pillow for my Uncle Tony - it just needs 3 buttons. On the suggestion of the man at Stockfeed, I used millet (I wouldn't be able to import buckwheat hulls into Australia because of Quarantine restrictions). They are very smooth, but it does make the pillow fairly heavy. I hope this won't be a problem!

I fly to Melbourne on Saturday, with my dad and his wife, to see Uncle Tony. He has a very rare form of acute leukemia. It's a huge blow.

As we're only taking hand-luggage, and I want to knit at the hospital, I'm breaking out my trusty pencil needles again. I figure if I separate them (one in a handbag, the other in a tote bag) they won't cause comment. I don't intend to knit on the plane this time. This is another Short Circuit Scarf, in Noro Silk Garden. It'll be fairly short as I've only got 2 balls of the Noro. I've figured out to knit backwards for the really short rows, which is kinda fun.

As you know, life has been one awful thing happening after another, for quite some time now, since Dotter got Type 1 Diabetes in June last year. Life-threatening illness, deaths, even more life-threatening illness... all the serious stuff. Pretty grim. I've been very depressed, not surprisingly, and have really not been coping well in recent weeks.


Last night Dotter and I went to our first belly dancing class (with fellow Raveler Souhair as our teacher!). We were both feeling exhausted and depressed, and not sure what to expect, but willing to give anything a try. Well.

It was SO. MUCH. FUN. Completely took all our troubles away - even today I'm feeling more human and less humourless tragic. I haven't done any dance type classes since I was a teenager, so this was a big step out of my comfort zone - but (and I know it's been said before), it's so fantastic to do something physical, moving your body, paying attention to it, being joyful, lively, and just appreciating being a woman with wobbly bits :)

We know how to shimmy. It's so cool. We're hooked.

17 February 2008

Lily has died

My lovely chihuahua Lily died this morning at home, at 8.40am. She had congestive heart failure, and had been on medication since late October, but not going very well on it. She was 12 years and 4 months old.

Her condition has been getting worse over the last week,... At 4am Dotter woke me - together with Hubby we kept a watch over Lil, with lots of chest rubs - but it was obvious there wasn't much more we could do. Her breathing was very fast (up to 140 breaths/minute - 30 is normal), and her lungs were filling with fluid.

At 8am it was clear that she wasn't going to live much longer, and that she wouldn't survive a car journey to the vet (who opened at 9am). I stayed with her for the whole end... it's the first time I've been at a death, actually. She was barely conscious for most of the last half hour, and I kept thinking she'd gone, but then she'd suddenly breathe and startle me.

We held a little family funeral for her - she's buried in the garden, with a yellow bush rose on top. I'm going to collect a smooth river stone and paint her name and dates on it, to sit next to the rose.

Lily was brave - she would chase foxes and any other dog - all of whom were bigger than her (let's face it, most cats were bigger than her!), she would bark fearlessly at visitors to our home (often a bit too much!).

Lily was intelligent - asking for pats, ignoring commands when it didn't suit her, asking for food and water, understanding what we said to her.

Lily was loving and delightful - a very gentle-natured dog (when not on alarm dog duty!), everyone who came into contact with her loved her, even if they didn't like dogs or chihuahas much. Her vets said she was the sweetest natured chihuahua they knew. She loved nothing better than to curl up on your lap for endless rubs and scratches (and she'd claw at your hand if you had the temerity to stop!). She loved sleeping on my knitting, especially lace shawls.

She will be so deeply and sorely missed... I am relieved that it's over, too, it's been a terribly stressful nearly-4 months since she first collapsed back in October.

14 February 2008

Crossword Bag Pattern & Clever Friends!

The pattern for my Crossword Bag is finally available! There is also a gallery of photos to help illustrate the process.

And for a change of pace, here are some links to the clever work of some of my friends :

My friend Russell is an amazing scientific illustrator; his work has appeared in magazines, journals, books, and posters worldwide, and even Hollywood movies. If you're into viruses, bacteria, microbiology, molecules and other like things, you might like browsing through his web site and CafePress shop. There are even some online biology crosswords on his site by you know who ;)

My friend Steve is about to launch his baby - the Go Home Safe campaign - as a long-time oil ship worker, he knows all about safety on the high seas! He's going out into business now, producing very cool safety videos with the help of a great team of designers and so on. You can view a snippet on You Tube - it's quite funny and really well done.

Here endeth the lesson ;)

13 February 2008

Summer Collection 1

Announcing the new Summer Collection ... of yarn!

I finished the painting late this afternoon. It features a skein of Happy Spider's handspun (far left), some bamboo, cotton, sock yarn, baby yarn, and handspun silk. I've just put this image up on the shop on mugs, to see how it looks - I will also made cards etc in the next few days. Stay tuned!

The Apology

This historic day has been far far too long in coming... and it is such a wonderful relief to see our brave new government taking such positive action on it's first full sitting day of the new Parliament. Bravo!

You too can watch Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generations of Australia.

10 February 2008

Steady progress

I seem to be slowly catching up with where I was before everything hit the fan (around November, starting with the house move).

The Blue Cotton Top is back on track. I don't know if this will fit me, I'd better take it off the needles and try it on.. I'm making this one up as I go. Will need bustal region shaping, better read up on how to do that!

My Wacom Stylus Jumper died - it lasted for a year of daily use, which is pretty good going really. The new one is made with my first ever Tofutsies!

One Regia sock is completely done, and the second one is nearly done as well. The fit is a little loose, but Hubby doesn't seem to mind (nor does he mind non-matching socks ;)

The Skeins painting is making slow progress too. No, this one has *gasp* no accompanying drink in the painting... it's designed to wrap around a mug and I thought it would be a bit weird to have a painting of a mug on a mug, if you know what I mean :) Only 3 balls of yarn to go...

A new project - a travelling pillow, from Lion Yarns' web site (you can find it on Ravelry too). I'm using Cleckheaton's Country Silk, my first time using this lovely stuff. This is for my wonderful Uncle Tony, who is very ill in Royal Melbourne Hospital (another body blow to our whole family...). I'm hoping it makes his time in hospital a little bit more comfortable.

My dad and I are flying down to visit him in about 2 weeks, so this needs to be done by then. Does anyone know where I can buy buckwheat husks for filling it, in Australia? It's proving to be unexpectedly difficult, and they are my first choice. I have a buckwheat neck pillow which I bought in the States in 1995, and is still going strong and very comfortable 13 years later!

And finally, this is how Lily is spending her days of late - following me around the house, and then sleeping at my feet when I sit down. Her condition isn't great, she's having more trouble breathing. But she still wags her tail...

06 February 2008

Skeins take shape

Today I've finally had a 'Jejune Day', and spent a long time painting. A ball of Happy Spider's gorgeous hand spun and dyed loveliness and some Cleckheaton bamboo...

And two of the three balls of Heirloom Baby Wool - I've changed the colours, the original wool is pale green... very happy with how these have turned out. The two other balls of yarn have just got washes done, as preliminary layers - they're next for the brush!

I'm about 3/4 done, I think ... another day will see this painting finished.

03 February 2008

Skeins in the Studio

This is the young lad (Dotter's boyfriend's youngest half-brother - got that?!) trying on his birthday beanie - given that it was close to 30C when he were at his birthday picnic yesterday, this is as far as he got with wearing it... and fair enough! It does fit, though :)

This is the studio half of my office (if I turn the chair around it's at my computer desk - it's a cosy room). My art desk is much smaller than before, but the lighting is OK, diffuse and from the left, which is good, although there's no nice view any more.

And this is what I did today - finally got to work on a new painting! Here's the painting so far... it is long narrow, designed to be printed around a mug. There will be colourful skeins and balls of yarn sitting on a long lace runner.

Thanks for the various suggestions people have sent me for paintings, it's always good to know what you would like to see! I've added them to the list of paintings I have planned for this year :)

Now I've got to get ready for the new series of Miss Marple (ABC TV, 8.30 pm) - utter bliss! And wasn't the adaptation of The Murder Room by PD James on Friday night brilliant? Martin Shaw is the quintessential Adam Dalgleish. Can't wait for Part 2 next week!