26 January 2009

Scots and Aussies

Cousin Kate brought me back this stunning woven scarfy wrap thing from Scotland - an actual real Shirley Pinder original ...

Isn't it gorgeous? It's a merino, silk, cashmere blend. The pleats are formed as part of the fabric, while it's woven. Very clever, and beautiful.

Watching the Aussie lose their one day cricket match, and heading outside for a BBQ soon. Happy Aussie Day all!

20 January 2009

New Patterns!

I've got the new patterns up on my web site! I figured I'd better do it soon, as I'm about to start a second book project (just a little activity puzzle book for young kids, but it's a tight deadline). So I present to you - the Mini Crossword Bags!

Here's a few rows into one - I like using the Magic Loop method, makes knitting small circular things much easier, and it's less fiddly than DPNs.

The inside stranded work ... the most you ever have to 'skip' with a yarn is 4 stitches.

This is the larger-sized Mini Bag (knit on 30 stitches), with an American-style grid (mostly white squares, and every square is 'keyed' by both an Across and a Down word). The pattern also comes with a British-style grid variation.

Here's the smaller Mini Bag, knit on 24 stitches, with a British-style grid (more blacks, not every letter is keyed by 2 words). The pattern also comes with an American-style grid variation.

In both patterns you can choose from a charted design, or line-by-line instructions. I hope you enjoy it! It's an easy introduction to stranded work, as it's always pretty obvious where you're up to in the pattern, since you're knitting a regular grid.

Here's the smaller bag in use - it's good for little mobile phones; the larger bag works well for thicker phones and digital cameras, and so on. You could always embellish yours with letter beads sewn on into the grid, to spell your name, or some message!

Am sort of better. I'm out of bed, at least, and able to work, so that's something!

17 January 2009

Mini Crossword Bags

Through the wonders of laptop computing, we bring you Blogging in Bed. Yes folks, the workload of the past 4 months has finally caught up with me, and I have the flu (insert lengthy sentence full of swear words). Especially upset since I have to cancel a bunch of social events I was REALLY looking forward to :(

Last night I designed and made TWO little crossword bags. These ones actually worked, and are super easy and fast. Made from Bamboozle (bamboo/cotton), knit in the round. For mobile phones / digital cameras. Pattern will be on my web site when I've got a working brain again.

Saw this on a box in an office last week ... can you see what it says?

... the way nature intended it to be. PLASTIC CUPS.

Yup. Worthy of the Fail Blog.

OK, time for a nap and more Panadeine.

13 January 2009

1 Across : Felted disaster (2, 3, 9, 3)

Answer : My new crossword bag.

I'm trying to design an easy-to-knit crossword patterned bag - knit in the round, no seams, no lining. Things started off so well ...

I tried to take into account the amount the bag would shrink vertically, so made it longish. The end is knitted in as one piece. Handles were (pay attention to this point) knitted with a different black yarn, as I'd run out of the other one. Just using scraps from my stash.

A good bashing through my (now defunct) washing machine later, and I had a mashed up, useless lump of wool. The black yarn in the handle was obviously machine washable, as it didn't felt at all!

The rest of the bag went all weird - the black sections pulled tightly, making the white sections bunch up. Maybe the white wool felted less than the black? I think felting stranded patterns needs a level of expertise I don't have!

Ah well. I'll try for a better version on this design, but without the felting.

In happier knitting news, I'm making a simple lace bamboo 'scarf' for Aunty Rona (Uncle Paul's wife). She needs a knitting care package ... I'm about halfway done already.

FIL is out of hospital today - I suspect we're seeing the start of the downhill slide ... he still has a catheter in, and needs a nurse and other support at home every day, and may need surgery (benign prostate problems). There are still specialists to be seen, appointments to be made, endless phone calls from him complaining, awful visits, and so on. I doubt the demands are going to abate any time soon. He turns 86 on Saturday.

Editing goes well, thankfully. Only about a third of the puzzles need some tweaking or changes. Not too bad! The end is in sight!

09 January 2009

Edit your face!

Puuuurrrrfect! Thankfully my editors at Wiley aren't this mean!

Author Review is going well so far - thankfully the chapters were edited first up this week (I really didn't want to write anything more, but had to). I suspect I'll have to see them again, though. Puzzles which need changes have only taken 10 minutes each to fix so far.

In a worst case scenario that gives me 253 puzzles x 10 min = 2, 530 / 60 = 42 hours of work, over the next 3 weeks. Totally bearable (anything's better than the 70-80 hour work weeks I've been averaging of late)! And not every puzzle needs editing, so things are good. I actually don't have to work all weekend, and can go to SnB without feeling stressed!

07 January 2009


Quick update - I called the Elective Surgery Info Service this morning to see if I could shift my operation back by a month, only to find out that I was given incorrect information on Monday! I'm not on the list for February at all! The middle of the year (closer to - yes - a year's wait) is much more likely.

Hugely relieved! I can finish these two books in (relative) peace, and make sure I keep the middle of the year clear of major deadlines.


06 January 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between

What is it about the start of the year? Is it a summer thing, or does life just regularly go a bit haywire in January? Last year this time was not a good time ... seems like this year is trying to catch up. Doing my best to stay positive, though. Kinda.

The GoodI've finished the book! Yes, 11:15 pm on Saturday night. Hurrah! Never thought it would be over ... over 3,100 files created in 3 months. I put in a 14 hour work day on Saturday to get it all done, to get a whole two days off. There was champagne!

This isn't the end of the process, though. I've now got 4 weeks of Author Review - addressing all the edits / comments / suggestions made on the text and puzzles by Sarah (Project Editor), Megan (Copy Editor), and Raymond (Technical Editor) One quarter of the book each week. So I'm not out of the woods yet. But at least I'm working on existing stuff now, not having to write new material. Fair bit easier.

I've got a second book waiting in the wings, too, for Hinkler Books - a sticker / puzzle book for 5-year-olds. To be finished by early March. This one is worrying me for reasons below.

The Bad

Hubby's lovely Uncle Paul isn't going well. He got bowel cancer a few years ago, and in fact has lived longer than anyone expected. But the doctors now say they can do no more, and are setting up palliative care in his home. Paul is a professional, and very talented, watercolor artist. His wife is the one who designed these crazy and wonderful knitted vegetables. He is a handsome, softly-spoken, intelligent and lovely man. Hard on his sister (Hubby's mum) too. It's all rather crap.

The In-Between

Hubby's dad is still in hospital, but hopes to be out in a week or so. He keeps threatening to 'walk out'. The Aged Care Assessment was done yesterday, and we were able to give the nice young woman assessor a pretty good idea of his situation. She's going to recommend an at-home Community Aged Care Package for him - and largely as way of supporting us, too, which is really good - fingers crossed that it's approved. He doesn't really understand what's going on, though, and is - shall we be nice and just say 'somewhat wearing' ...


I called the hospital yesterday to find out where I was roughly, on the waiting list for my hip replacement. Remember when I signed up back in September? A year's wait, they said. Plenty of time, they said. I was cool with that! Well, they lied! Next bloody month!! "February - early March at the latest," said the chirpy young thing on the other end of the phone. What, this year?! Aaaaaaaaaaah!

I know it needs to be done, and I still think I've made the right decision, and my doctor and physio are really happy – but I really wasn't counting on it happening quite so soon. I'm feeling a little tense about getting my contracted work done at the same time as dealing with all the hip stuff. I don't feel ready.

I hope that working on the various books will be a distraction while I'm in hospital, and that I'm not in so much pain / doped out on pain killers etc that I can't work, and there aren't any complications. Ideally I'd like to have taken a good month off for the operation and recovery. Bugger.

I've already put time restrictions on my surgery booking, and can't keep changing the date otherwise I'll be dropped from the list altogether... here's hoping the exact date will be early March, and not in February. And hopefully my publishers will be understanding. I've been working towards having all of March off, so hopefully that can still work for my rehab (although it won't be quite the holiday I was imagining!).


Insert general complaint about living with two young adults, and a chronically-ill husband. Nothing specific, have just generally had enough at the moment. Working practically non-stop while the rest of the family is in bed or lounging around for whatever reason (illness or school holidays) is starting to get to me. Funny, that.

To mitigate the above, here's Dotter in a slightly red wig - crazy, or cute, or crazy and cute?

I probably shouldn't be writing when I've only had 5 hours sleep, so please take the above with a dash of salt, and I'll catch you on a happier day before too long, I'm sure.

02 January 2009

A week in photos

In the last 4 days of writing for the book, so this means I'm 1) exhausted 2) procrastinating by blogging and 3) really don't have time to write much. So you get piccies!

Rodger's 20th Birthday. He wanted a Mexican meal - Chicken and Refried Beans in tortilla 'baskets', Guacamole, plus Christmas Salad (watermelon, pomegranate seeds, orange, cucumber, fresh mint, and a splash of lime juice - delish!).

Summer Pudding - swoon ...

Cheers! Mango Daiquiris all round!

Our 19-year-old Simpson top-loader washing machine (that we got second-hand 13 years ago) finally gave up the ghost. Thank goodness for post-Christmas sales. Introducing Washy, our new Whirlpool front loader machine, with 4.5 water efficiency stars and a 3 star energy rating! It only uses 64 litres per wash!! W00t!

There's been a bit of knitting time. First sock for Rodg all done ...

Looks good on, too (6 ply Opal). I'm past the heel on the second sock already, too. 6ply knits up so quickly!

We hold our 'Christmas' on New Year's Eve - mainly so we can spend 25th Dec with my horrid FIL and not feel like he's ruined our Christmas; plus we can have Rodger's birthday celebrations first, shop at the post-Christmas sales, and generally diffuse a lot of the 'Christmas madness' stress. It works well.

The day always begins with Bircher Muesli - a quadruple batch! My mum's recipe from my childhood ... yum. Oatmeal, freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, almonds, grated apples, plain yoghurt, brown sugar, and more, soaked overnight. Perfect comfort food.

Ham with Maple Syrup. Scalloped Potatoes. Green Beans, Asparagus and Tomatos with a Balsamic Vinegar Dressing ...

Fruit Mince Stars. Super easy, fast, and tasty! We'll make these again!

A few lovely pressies - Jeeves and Wooster Series 2 on DVD from Rodg, a super cool TS14+ necklace from Dotter, some great books (knitting and puzzles) and 2 skeins of llama / silk from Abbey in Alaska (!!) ...

Hubby got me this wonderful little 'glasshouse' (really a plastic tubing & vinyl house) - just what I need for raising my seedlings!

I clearly need some practice / advice though - this is what happened to my lovingly raised 2-month old tomato seedlings after being overnight in the glasshouse ... the early morning sun completely fried them. I probably should have left the door rolled up. Or something. Cry cry cry!!

FIL is still in hospital - hoping to get out next week. He got a 'day pass' for Christmas Day, and spent the afternoon with us. The nurses were happy to have a break from him for a while - they said "You can keep him!" somewhat hopefully when Hubby picked him up. The Aged Care Assessment thing is happening next Monday.

Monday - ah next Monday. The Deadline. I've got 8 puzzles to go - 5 are quick, but 3 are quizzes, which are not quick. But the end is in sight, and I'm on track. Of course, there will be no real break, as I'll go straight into 4 weeks of Author Review, editing 1/4 of the book each week. But at least the writing work will all be done! Yay!

Hope you're well and enjoying a good break at the start of 2009!