Saturday, 29 January 2011

Invictus by William Ernest Henley 1875

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This poem to me has always meant taking control or having responsibility for one's own destiny. As some may already know I recently received a new diagnosis this month to challenge me with my other health issues. This new challenge while not totally unexpected with my history has created a new impact on my life and is currently imposing itself on me. The upside to this new diagnosis is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel as I am fully treatable and expected to make a full recovery. Not a bad prognosis.

The two side effects of the treatment include the interaction of the chemotherapy (oral and topical) drugs and my still not sure which one of the auto immunes ?fibromyalgia? plus those I have already added to my collection of rheumatoid issues, and the unpleasantness of the topical chemo on my face. I can put up with a countenance which will terrify children as I know it is temporary and I keep saying to self that is a free cosmetic treatment. My skin after this will be so young looking due to the dermal peel effect from the chemo creme. My line manager could not understand my attitude when I described it as positive side effect while showing her the patient information leaflet and its oh so graphic photos. Just because I will look like an ugly muttly does not mean I can not come into work. Some of the students are scared of me already due to my lack of tolerance for fools so this will just make me even more of the office fire breathing dragon.

So beside the mug only a mother could love, the other downside is that the chemo has a greater impact on me (knocks me about up and down the stairs) due to the rheumatoid issues. Due to trouncing that this manifestation of maladies is having on me I have reduced my working hours to a half time load. Even though I have more time to knit or create I am not getting this opportunity since I am frequently finding myself having a very quiet interlude where I drift off for forty winks or more. My propensity to nod off on a extended granny nap has caused a total knitting hiatus. 

So a final word of caution that everyone can do from my experience please check your skin if you notice any changes in shape, colour, texture, an itch or bleeding get your butt down to the GP's and get it checked out that means everyone even if you have a darker skin pigment. If I had left it a couple of months I would have radically different prognosis. Thanks for all the supporters and well wishers you have been wonderful in more ways than you can know and we will keep ticking along.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!

No Burns night celebration would be with the traditional address to the haggis the Great chieftain o' the pudding-race according to the poet Rabbie Burns (Robert Burns for those who speak English). Today being the 25th January we will all have a wee dram to celebrate this poet. Below is the poem which is normally recieted on this night called Address To A Haggis which was written by Burns in 1786.

The poem is normally recited when the haggis is brought out to the table. The full meal should have Haggis, Neeps, Tatties, Cock-a-Leekie or Cullen Skink,  Bannocks, Cranachan and a Clootie for dessert. Since we were not organised and it was school night we had the Cock-a-Leekie, neeps and tatties, bacon and sausages, bannock and Cartmel sticky toffee pudding.

A Cartmel Sticky Toffee pudding


Address to A Hagis by R. Burns 1786

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was help to mend a mill
In time o'need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

'Clancy, of The Overflow' by AB "Banjo" Paterson 1889

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan years ago;
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec, addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow."

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plain extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city,
Through the open window floating, spreads it foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street;
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me,and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal
But I doubt he's suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

So I am a yarn snob...

I here by admit that I have a favouritism for natural yarns and in particular wool. Mohair I like to look at it but it has a problem with me it makes me sneeze and wheeze.

My snobbish in relation to natural fibres has increased with my collection of spinning wheels. It just makes sense to spin and therefore use a natural product. I also find spinning to be a very very relaxing activity and it can help bring me down from an almost full blown panic attack meltdown. Wool has some exceptional properties and there are hundreds of varieties. Add to that in addition we also have silk, quivit, alpaca, chasmere angora, yak, hemp, flax, banana and cotton to play with among others.  Then add to the various mixes and we can then talk about the properties that they give to possible projects such as stretch or fall of the finished garment or item.  There are other man made fibres which are based on plant sources but it is necessary to consider the processing it takes to get it and the benefits the final product yarn gives to the knitter or crocheter.

I do like some non natural products but the acrylic content has to be low. Yes I suffered through having to use poor quaility 100% acrylics in the 1970s and 1980s which were incredibly hash on your hands while leaving you with a garment that was uncomfortable to wear. It makes sense to have some nylon in sock wool especially when you are actually knitting socks.

Sock wise I have to start pair number 2 out of 26 for 2011 as it is now the second half of the month. I was going to knit a pair of Bee socks for Ry but she was a super stroppy teenager in the middle of the week and I decided I was going to be a selfish knitter for the next pair of socks.  I have finished the stump sock but we have had a very overcast and dark day and therefore no photos. I got up late at 10am cause it was that dark I still did not feel like the sun was up. I  have my new pattern for me as supposed to cast on a new pair being the 15th but I can not find the yarn I want to knit it in. Must do some stash diving.

A Cat observing the Zauberball in 2010.
Currently I am working on a shawl called the Garden of Alla Shawl by Suzy Crancer, my version of this pattern I am calling Masha'allah. I am using Zauberball Starke 6 that I got last year.  I had been saving it for another shawl project but I am also  a member the Village of the hopeless over committed group on Ravelry. The January event for the group is to do the long colour repeat project or using handspun. Well I have already used some handspun in my first shawl for 2011 and now I just wanted to use some of the Zauberball and this pattern looks good in a long colour repeat. Hopefully we will get some sunlight soon as I want to get a stack of photos done.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

OOOOh where did you get those?

This morning I was wearing the new socks and I visited someone who has new cream carpet down. Being a typical Territorian I took my shoes off at the door - habit you just dont wear shoes indoors. And all of a sudden there was a Ooh where did you get those? from one of the others who was visiting our friend. After asking for clarification that she was referring to my socks I explained to Visitor H that I knitted them. She just could not believe that someone could knit socks.

I could of have been a bit sarkie but I realised that she was secretly lusting after a pair for herself. So I suggested that she knit herself a pair. But I don’t know how to knit socks was her reply. After going through her recent projects, such as the MIL Christmas cardigan. I pointed out to Visitor H she could do this pattern no problems at all once she got the handle of using DPNs or a Circular Needle. Both tools she has not before as she has always knitted on long straights like her Nan. So I think I will be setting her up with the pattern and providing the coaching on this we next meet up to talk about the CSR organisation we are all involved with.

I also introduced a couple of the others to Ravelry and I think I may have caused a conversion or two to the dark side of lots of knitting thanks to the various ohhs and arhhhs about Ravelry. So if I get knitters knitting more this month and possibly another sock knitter or two I will be well happy......

PS the stump sock is going well but I just have to stay awake enough to finish it. I better get a wiggle on cause it will be late if I don’t.

We dont know where he are???

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better knowledge,
sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, 
so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec, addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow"

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
Twas his shearing mate who wrote it,
and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."
except for A.B 'Banjo' Patterson's "Clancy of the Overflow" 1889

In the recent floods there are still people missing. Have a thought and if you can please support the QLD Premier's Disaster relief fund. We have been missing our sleep since we have been online and on the phones trying to get all the details of the extended family in SE QLD.  Knitting this week was forgotten about especially when my cousin called and was letting me in on the gossip about what was happening in her neck of the woods including how much water.  I am still also searching from some yarn which was supposed to be in my stash box but has seemed to disappeared.  I need more time in my day as I have to finish a couple of items before the next week so I will be knitting like the clappers.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

"Said Hanrahan" by John O'Brien, 1921.

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
"Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
They're singin' out for rain."

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
"And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak -
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two
To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

As a child I was made to learn Said Hanrahan and other poems that talked about the bush life as part of my cultural development. Everyone had to have a speaking party piece - Hanrahan was mine from about age 5 to 8 years. The flooding in Queensland has matched this poem in oh so many ways than I can count. There has been a drought for the last 10 years or so in some parts of the state like Toowoomba. This garden city of the hinterland area is not expected to experience flooding and severe drought as the climate is cooler than down on Brisbane plains.

Many may not know that Toowoomba is built on extinct volcanic caldera which forms part of the Darling Downs. The Downs area is the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Toowoomba should not flood so easily due to it height above sea level. The current flooding is due to the land being so dry that the heavy downpours experienced yesterday and the last week had no where to go but to run off the hard parched ground.  Thus causing the flash flooding which has been observed on tv and youtube screens around the world. There is more to come in the next days, weeks and months. The rain is not expected to stop until March. 

If you get a chance make a donation to the QLD's Premiers appeal or the other international appeals. If you are on Ravelry drop by the various groups who are developing assistance parcels for those who have been affected by the flooding. As a knitter or crafter you may want to make a washcloth or two or three and send it in with a bar of soap which will help individuals overcome the smell of the mud when they are cleaning up after the floods.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Spinning my little heart out

I have been spinning my little heart out over the weekend between working on the stump sock for the hubby.  So far I have spun 300gms of Blue Faced Leicestershire [BFL] and I have another 200gms to go in this lovely mocha colour. I then have to workout how I am going to work out the meterage since my scales have decided to go kaput. Working out what I can knit with this handspun has been interesting contemplation while I have been treadling away.

Example of Broomstick Lace from Romansock 2007
When I dropped daughter off at the train station this morning I noticed that mags in the news stand had a lot of broomstick lace in their pictures along with a higher ratio of crochet to knitting. It was cold in the car park and I was in the  station waiting with her and picking up the Metro paper for her Dad. Could crochet be the new knitted item for 2011? Then getting home in the ads between the news bulletins the there were more items with broomstick lace.  I have a feeling that this Spring we will be seeing a lot of broomstick lace in the shops.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

An evil sock thought

I have in the past made stump socks for my husband and I have even darned them for him - ah the price of love. These socks have been natural and neutral colours like light brown, beige, cream and white. I have even knitted and handled wool during the tropical moonsoon season for him. Just thinking about it almost makes me break out with prickly heat. I have even managed to get suitable materials in the middle of the Never Never before the start up of the internet shopping for his sodding stump socks. I must love the bugger cause I have even driven excessive amounts of miles.

The Todd River in Alice Springs
I am reminded of one ocassion where I did a road trip of over a 2000 miles (3000kms) under a tight time frame to visit the prosthetic clinic to collect his socks for him. He had ripped his silicone stump sock and I drove from Alice Springs to Darwin to collect a new one from the Royal Darwin Hospital Prosthetic clinic, organised an express international parcel delivery to Malaysia where he was doing a short visit to another university and then drove the return journey back to work and the kids in Alice Springs in less than 36 hours. While I visited the clinic I also picked up another 10 pairs of various types of knitted stump socks for him which I dropped off at our home in Darwin on my way past. He was on a jolly to KL and I had to do a short work trip to Alice at the same time.  I had taken the kids down to visiting the extended family while I worked or else we would have been cooked. I was wise enough to leave them with the Greats (several of my aunts, uncles and of course my gran) in Alice rather than do the road trip with me as they were only very young. I think Ry was three-ish and Rh was only about one.
Last pair of boyish sock that I knitted for Rh.
But his recent ribbing about my handknitted socks being stolen by my 14 year old boy, Rh, has made me think of a slightly evil thought.  I wonder if I could make him a stump sock out of some of the feminine coloured left over sock yarn that I have hanging about. Previously I have used these tail ends for little projects such as easter eggs, Amigurumi projects and minor timmings when required. We have an anniversary coming up next week as it will be 20 years since we got engaged on the 12th of January. I just wonder if I have enough left of my Yarn Yard Cairn skein in Lavender to make him a matching stump sock to my new pair of artichoke socks.  I could then give to him as an anniversary gift...  He would have to wear it then....  hee hee an evil witch like cackle that goes on and on...

Friday, 7 January 2011

Pair A of the A to Z sock Kal done!

Well I managed to do the first pair of this challenge in about five days (four and a bit). The bit was finishing the toe this morning before work. I had to Kitchener the toe on the last sock before I could promptly put them on my feet. Hubby, J, was laughing his arse off at me because it was "Yes I know you want to leave for work but I can’t until I finish this sock as I have to wear this sock today". J does not have the sock issue that I have such as the requirement of clean fresh socks on a regular basis.  I am lucky if he changes his sock on his short false leg once in a month.  So here are the new pair of Artichokes in Lavender Cairn from the Yarn Yard that are currently blocking on my feet. Ta Da!

Of course the Dawg had to get in the picture
Excuse the teal pants I know I have a greater number of colours on today (over 5) which the fashionistas would be horrified about but sod it. It is snowing again and I am going to be warm. Yes, I have red shoes in winter and I wear these shoes to death. I may have to get a new pair of shoes from Kumfs (aka Ziera shoes) soon as these poor buggers have been worn now for almost three winters, so they are starting to get a little old. The teal pants are my fleece lined pants so on snow days I find them to be obligatory.  Photo wise we have been struggling to get light to support the taking of photos.

Dusk hits us at about 3:15 pm
I did have one clean pair of socks in the sock draw for me this morning but between getting the daughter, Ry, to the train station so she could get to college and getting home to see my son, Rh, leave for school they magically appeared on his feet rather than mine..... Hello!! I ridiculously thought that my colourful socks which in no shape or form meet the uniform code of either black or grey socks would be safe from the nortious sock thief. Rh has gone to school wearing a pair of teal and yellow variegated handknit socks in the standard vanilla sock pattern. I had been certain that his burgeoning teenage masculine identity as a 14yr old would ensure that I did not have the sock thief problem anymore with this type of handknit sock. Plainly I was wrong but heyho that is part of motherhood according to my teenagers - "You are always wrong".

More details of the Artichoke socks
I am concerned about the state that this pair of vanilla socks will be in when I get them back because he most definitely has the male issue of smelly feet.  What is it about adult and or almost adult male feet that makes them smell so much?  It has been a bit of shock that he has developed this trait and it is just another reminder that he is no longer the cherubic baby I used to carry in my arms. That smell, the antisocial behaviour and the communicating with grunts.  Smelly feet is just something I have not had to live with over the last twenty odd years with his father since he has not had his own feet since he was slightly younger than the boyo. 

J with his short leg on.
There are some advantages being married to a bilateral leg amputee as rubber feet don’t tend to sweat and smell horribly along with the need for only about five pairs of socks for the whole year. The only reason for the five pairs is so that he can have two socks in five different colours as he only wears the one leg now. He used to be a two leg man when he was young and vain but he finds it easier to swing walk (short leg and under arm crutches). Since he is only ever wearing one sock at any one time he always has a spare in the draw when it wears out.  His socks are more likely to wear out and be composted before they ever get into the washing pile. It is the stump socks which you have to look after carefully just like hand knitted socks. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Knitting madness

It appears that I am not the only one in several of my Ravelry groups that I regularly hang out in who are doing the 52 in 52 weeks project.  Some of my fellow rum drinkers in the RavTav are doing similar things.... Must be all the virtual rum we drink in this tavern. God help us if we actually met up in person we would need someone with the bail money to get us out of the local clink.

So I now have 2 items from Xmas knitting finished: 
  • the Limoncello shawl from before New Years 
  • and I have just blocked out my latest shawl, Zertzeta, which was started at midnight on New Years Eve.
I am sort of excited about the little shawlette Zertzeta as it used my first ever attempt at lace weight hand spun. Spinning of this BFL Fibre took about a week and I tried very hard to be consistent. However, I did not manage that very well so the fibre ranges between fingering weight and cobweb. When I attempted to work out my meterage of course the kitchen scales then decided to go kaput so I can only do a visual estimate that I had about 300m from 100 gms of fibre. I have made a little shawlette out of the same pattern that I did last year, the Hurani, but this time it went so much quicker because it appears that I actually enjoyed the pattern since I was hanging on a thread to see if I could make it to the end.  Was it the thrill from wondering if I would have to make it to the end of the chart with my available yarn.  It was a bit touch and go even with the crochet bind off. My new version of the Hurani is not as big as the one I did last year but it looks pretty all stretched out on the blocking boards. Unblocked it was the size of a headscarf and it did not stretch that much more when I blocked it out.

Pictures of the latest shawls will come about as soon as we get enough daylight. It has been very very overcast here this week and we hopefully will see some light soon...... I am starting to count down the days to spring. So have a picture of the last Hurani that I did last year.

Hi Ho this little Xmas elf has to go and do some more Xmas knitting so I am going to start one of A-Z KAL (knit along) socks.