odds & sods

there’s no one theme to this post – it’s a bit like one of Sheepish Annie’s WNBPP [ which for the uninitiated, means Wednesday Night Bullet Point Post  ] except, in this case, it’s Thursday.

  • I’ve been knitting yet another of the ubiquitous Forest Canopy Shawls  [ravelry link ]
  • It’s alpaca and soysilk. I dyed two balls turquoise/green and three turquoise purple.
  • The yarn used to be a perfectly respectable pale green and  a sort of grey mauve.
  • I like my colours better.
  • We had 2 inches of rain yesterday. My carport was under an inch of water … flowing straight off the goat paddock.
  • The carport is now scented with eau-de-goat-poo.
  • You have to watch where you step when you get out of the car.
  • On Tuesday I had a long-distance chat with Nonna about the spindle that she passed on to Nadie on Monday. I think we both assumed that she had owned it since the days when she learned to spin in school [ and she only went to school until grade 3 ] which would have put it somewhere in the early 1930s. Not so. Apparently she found it at home and snaffled it when she was preparing to get married at age 20.
  • It was already old – very old – when she found it in the early 1940s.
  • Think peasant Italian multi-generational home.
  • Yup. You’re way ahead of me. It probably belonged to Nadie’s great grandmother or possibly even her great-great grandmother … MIL couldn’t remember her mother spinning so great-great is looking more than possible.

Habetrot has a vintage postcard in her collection which shows a Roman woman “of Ciociara” spinning with what looks to be the same type of spindle. She [ Habetrot that is, not the Italian spinster ] has been kind enough to let me swipe it for blogging purposes.

  • You should go visit her eponymous blog if you are at all keen on vintage images of textile or fibre pursuits or fibre-bearing animals.

  • Ciociara is near Rome. Tocca da Casauria in Abruzzi where Nonna was born isn’t so very far away.
  • In Italian, a spindle is called a fuso. [ when Nonna says it in dialect, she sort of swallows the ‘o’ on the end, so it becomes foose ]

A Family Treasure

Nadie and I drove down to Melbourne today for dental appointments [ least said the better – although we DO have the best dentist in the world, which is why we now drive 2 hours each way to see him ]


We had both come prepared for the mandatory time in waiting-room purgatory – featureless grey walls and indifferent magazines of indeterminate age.

I, with the flower hexagons from the last post, and Nadie with her current knitting and also her drop spindle [ much to the interest and delight of the two little girls and their mum who were sharing our time in limbo with us.

Out of consideration for the dentalphobic [ yes, Sheepie, I’m lookin’ at you ] I will draw a veil over what transpired within Dr Tony’s torture chamber very nice room, and move on to our next stop which was for lunch with Nadie’s Nonna.

Homemade Gnocchi and meatballs … proper Italian coffee … heaven

and after lunch, I nudged Nadie into showing Nonna her drop spinning.

I have a very vague almost-memory from when I first showed Ma-in-law my wheel, that she had mentioned something about drop-spinning in her younger days. At least, I think that was the gist.

Even after nearly 60 years in Australia, English isn’t her strong suite.

…and I’d certainly never seen her spin. By the time I came into the family, she was a confirmed knitter of commercial yarns. Generally 2-ply on a cone and wound into however many multiples it took to reach a weight she wanted to use. No patterns either. She’s just work out what was needed and set to. Advancing age and macular degeneration have long since robbed her of that pleasure, but I figured she’d be interested in what Nadie was doing.

If I tried to write an approximation of her fractured English, my fingers would probably snap off at the knuckles, but basically her response came down to ” Hang on. I think I’ve still got my one of those ”

and there it was, in the darkest corner of her wardrobe, probably untouched for 30 or more years. A crude top-whorl spindle with a long shaft and a tiny metal hook.

Apparently it’s not a knack you lose either, because blind and arthritic, she proceeded to prove that she can still drop a line with the best of them. Maybe not from the second floor balcony, as she used to in her teenage years apparently … dropping it over the edge so that she could spin a long line before winding on, but she can still spin.

and now that spindle,made somewhere in Abruzzi, Italy, in the 1930s, and bought halfway round the world in 1953, has come home with us. It seems our girl gets the spinning gene from both sides of her family, and in an unbroken line stretching back through many generations.

Had I known this little gem still existed, I probably would’ve snaffled it years since, but it would’ve just been for the sentimental attachment. How much better that it go to the one person in the family who will not only treasure the link to her beloved Nonna, but will actually use it.

I have a confession to make

I have a deep dark secret known only to my nearest and dearest

Yes m’dears. In just short of thirty years as a fanatical quilter, I have never EVER made a hexagon quilt.

I know

Hard to credit, but there you are.

I haven’t completely escaped the mesmeric power of the hex though.

A little while ago I found a clever little tutorial by Jasmine at Frills & Spills on making clever little crochet hex based  ‘African Flower’ motifs.

After forwarding the link to a friend, that was about as far as it got until a couple of weeks ago. The Girl and I were visiting Ms Tara and she showed us the latest viral knitting craze: hexipuffs aka the beekeeper’s quilt.

Apparently a goodly  portion of the knittingverse is currently engaged in making these little stuffed hexagonal morsels. [ Seriously. Look it up on Ravelry … It’s currently showing over 1500 separate projects for Beekeepers Quilt ]

Now the only thing that these African Flowers have in common with the hexipuffs is the basic hex shape, but it was enough to tickle ze little grey cells into remembering that link I’d sent to Marcie, but of course, by this stage I’d forgotten where I’d seen it, so I plugged ‘African Flower’ into the pattern search at Ravelry. It turns out that there are several versions floating around, but they all stem from a pattern by Lounette Fourie & Anita Rossouw in the African magazine Sarie [ link for any of you who can read Afrikaans ]

The Frills & Spills version uses UK/Australian crochet terminology. There is an American one by HeidiBears here or there is an ever-so-slightly different [US] version available as a Ravelry download here. 

Okay. So, a quick ferret through the stash unearthed a plastic baggie of vaguely co-ordinating odds and sods of leftover 8ply / DK, and now I can haz my very own flowers.

I’ve decided, having spent this arvo creating the outer denim blue round, that I think I prefer the ones with the darker ‘flowers’

Not at all sure what the heck I’ll end up doing with them, but they ARE good fun to make and a great project to just pick up in between other things [ or for when you leave a vital piece of knitting paraphenalia at home ].

The Toes Never Lie

Saturday and Sunday were nothing short of glorious.

The kind of early spring days that make one wax all Wordsworthian-lyrical about nodding daffodils and suchlike.

We had visitors from Melbourne on Saturday who were, I trust, suitably impressed by the halcyon country experience laid on for their gratification. There was dam-admiring, bush rambling, and goat patting-and-photographing.[ They certainly approved the hundreds-and-thousands pikelets produced for afternoon tea, and the repeat of same which became necessary when Chris got home from work just as we were wiping the last of the evidence from our lips ]

Sunday was Dave’s birthday.

Jessie and Robyn joined us for a small but select afternoon tea

There were balloons, streamers, cupcakes and a birthday cake … and sprinkles … and candles … and mini marshmallows.

Ergo to David and Jess it was a party.

Thanks to some inattention on my part, and the mad ninja skills of MissC, the first lot of cake batter ended up as animal fodder.

As a result –  given a distinct lack in the eggs department, after all the pikelet and pancake making [and not being in the vicinity of a 24hour supermarket ] –  half of the cupcake batter was partially repurposed to become the world’s second smallest birthday cake.

I don’t think cupcake batter is quite the same as full sized birthday cake – certainly couldn’t have been anything wrong with my baking skills after all – because the result was a little bit tough  chewy … but that was cleverly and cunningly disguised by mega levels of icing, hundreds-and-thousands, marshmallows and a tacky colourful bunch of plastic balloons in the middle.

After presents, we adjourned outside for post-prandial bubble blowing, which totally freaked out the goats [ who refused to repeat their synchronised gallop-madly-in-the-opposit-direction for the camera … buggerit ]

so here’s a perfect rainbow  bubble instead

Still later, there were more presents and something that only vaguely resembled dinner, given our sugar and junkfood saturated state.

Take the post-dinner knitting and tv watching as a given, okay?

which brings us to yesterday morning:

When I woke up, it looked to be just as glorious as the  days preceding

So why were my toes insisting  [ vehemently ] that it was about to rain ?


Ignoring my nether extremities, I spent the next several hours alternating between periods of raking-piling-and-burning, and sitting-with-a-dog-a-book-and-a-cuppa-supervising-the-bonnies.

The temp reached 28C

Another day in paradise

and then:

The skies darkened.

Savage wind gusts came out of nowhere

and we spent the rest of the day/night listening to the sound of rain on the tin roof

… and now?

apart from a whole new layer of bark and leaf detritus obscuring all evidence of yesterday’s raking, and some general dampness, you’d never know that Monday’s 100+ kph wind-and-rain ever happened.

but I know

and my ever so smug toes are resting there at the end of my footsies with a distinct ‘we told you so’ air.

I will never doubt their veracity again!

Here’s some I prepared earlier

To make the most of Nadie’s newfound interest in knitting [ and continuing love affair with spinning on a drop spindle ] we have both started attending  – if that’s the right word – a small & friendly once a week knitting group that meets at The Dove Cafe here in Castlemaine … or more precisely in the outdoor courtyard of same. There are big tables, friendly staff, chai …served properly …in a pot …with honey on the side, plenty of interesting breakfast and lunch choices, a kid-proof pool fence style lock on the outer gate, and a rotating cast of lovely knitters, most with little folks in tow [ hence the decision to meet outside where there are plenty of interesting things for the kids to investigate and no one has to worry about inconveniencing other patrons  because most of the courtyard crowd seem to have their own little people, and/or dawgs  ]

Granted it can get a bit chilly when the sun passes behind a cloud

but as we move into Spring and the warmer weather beckons, it is just idyllic.

I forgot to pull out the camera today

Just like I forgot my Sheepie knitting bag at home and had to go back for it

only to find that I’d managed to drop one of the double-pointed needles I was using for the current project.

No way was I going home again – I’d already driven into town to drop David off, back out to pick up Nadie, and again to get the knitting bag

… and we don’t have a wool shop anywhere near here anymore, so just popping down the road to get a new needle wasn’t an option either

All was not lost though: I had a crochet hook and some part done hexagons in 8 ply, so the yarn for the current project  – far more than was actually needed, and the right ply in a compatible colour – was repurposed for the day … along with some of Nadie’s wool, also the right ply and again in a toning shade.

Just as well, or I would’ve been raiding the nearest Op Shop in search of vintage needles in the right size to replace the one I’d mislaid.

Anyway, as I forgot to take appropriate pics today, here are the ones I took at last week’s session and totally forgot to show you:


Animal husbandry 101

Last week I was dealing with a huge, mucky lump on Rosie’s jaw. You don’t need details … just take it from me that it was just as gross and disgusting as you might imagine. There is still the slight possibility that the Vet [ who turned up despite the visit being cancelled*, completely catching son-in-law on the hop, The Girl & I being elsewhere. Of course, poor Chris knew almost none of the details of the course of Rosie’s problem ] may be correct about it being cancer. Obviously, I hope he’s wrong, and, yes, the nastiness appears to be getting better on a daily basis so fingers firmly crossed.

Despite a fetching hot pink dye job [ the antiseptic spray is highly coloured so that you can see if you hit the spot … how sensible is that ? ] Rosie seems totally unaffected by all the manhandling and indignities suffered in the last week or so.

This week it’s been Bear’s turn to be the object of my medical ‘expertise’.

Somehow or other, he injured a back paw: no blood, contusions, swelling, heat or discolouration, but obvious discomfort, a three legged limp, and a … very restrained … little whine and a half-hearted nip when it was probed or manipulated.

Because it was a back paw, he couldn’t put any weight on it to jump up on the couch – or my bed – so there was a very pointed sub vocalised little growl whenever he wanted a leg-up, which was repeated until I got the point. I wish my canine mind reading skills were a little more advanced. it would make life so much easier.

He’s back on all four paws today, but still milking the sympathy for all it’s worth:

The cats have, of course, just overwhelmed him with their level of caring:

* and of course, despite the ‘mix-up, said Vet presented large bill for immediate attention.

Invasion of the mutant lemons

As is so often the case, I’ve been too busy doing stuff to take the time to blog about it all

and to be perfectly frank, not all of it was stuff that I was willing or able to share with the wider world

health issues

sick & injured animals

you know


there has been:

trips to Melbourne for [ oh joy ] multiple dental treatments [ and again this coming week ]

tentative reintroduction to dance classes … which went well apart from last Monday’s ‘falling over onto concrete floor’ part of it which really didn’t do the post-op recovery a lot of good

there has been the discovery of a new knitting group that meets weekly here in Castlemaine.

After a couple of attempts to get there that didn’t quite come  off, I went on Wednesday and had a great time [ but sadly I forgot to take the camera, so you’ll have to wait on that one ]

and of course there has been knitting, but that is under wraps for the moment

there has been quilting too … both the regular group here in town and also a day-long Quilt -In held by the Strathdale Quilters last weekend at Bendigo … and AGAIN I forgot to immortalise the event in digital form.

Great speakers, masses of Show ‘N Tell [ or Chantelle as ‘t’is known in Central Victorian Quilterspeak ]

and I have failed signally in my recording duties.

What I can show you from the Quilt-In is this:

8 metres of gorgeous lush Japanese fabric.

My prize for July’s second place win at the Vic Quilters Show in Melbourne was a rather generous voucher from the ladies at Blue Willow Cottage.

I was trying to fit in the trip to Werribee [ a bit over 300 km round trip ] when I found out that they were going to have a stall at the Strath Quilt-In. Problem solved. I was already leaning towards going, and the dangling carrot of free ‘funny money’ to spend … well … can we say done deal ?

Blue Willow doesn’t have any of their fabric on the website, and after 30 years of quilting, I certainly have all the rulers and cutters that I could ever need. Someone suggested batting but I already have plenty of that socked away. They’ve started stocking a limited range of Japanese fabric, and, hey, it wasn’t costing me anything, so I just told ’em to cut me whatever I could get for the amount of my voucher, which I would collect at the Quilt-In.

and all that brings us around to yesterday.

The first Saturday in the month is shaping up to be our regular get together day – whether you call it a WIP Day [ works in progress ] or a UFO Day [ unfinished objects ] it’s basically an excuse for a stitch ‘n bitch … and a certain high profile american knitter can bite my bum because we quilters have been calling it that since 1983.

So there ! [ insert rasberry noise here ]

Anyway, yesterday, Nadie and I were joined by ravelry knitters [ l to r ] Sharlene, Mel and Toni

up from Melbourne for the day to stage a raid on the Bendigo Woollen Mills, local quilter Merry – who was actually knitting, and left before I grabbed the camera – and Ms Tara who was hand spinning  on a trindle, when not engaged in feeding her  4 month old, [ and no I didn’t get a pic of either Master Bram or the trindle ]

I was still slogging on with the binding on the queen sized Japanese Stack & Slash that I’ve only had back from the quilter since last December.

Why hurry, right ?

and Nadie alternated between working on her quilt top

and spindling

You’ll have to take my word that that’s what she’s doing as the business end was out of sight under the table.

and if you’re wondering about my post title

this is one of Toni’s lemons

apparently she has grapefruit the size of footballs 🙂