29 December 2007

Hyperventilating Take 2

You may remember way back in October when I was hyperventilating... I'm allowed to reveal the source of this excitement now!

On 11 October Kristina Sigler, the copy editor from Vogue Knitting, e-mailled me saying she'd stumbled across my Knitting Art work and loved it, and asking if they could include a little piece about my Knitting Art shop and a painting in their January 2008 issue (which has just been released to subscribers, and will hit the newsagents in a week or so). Honestly, I cried ... and then said YES PLEASE!

Since then I have sent in scans of a few of my paintings (so their designers could choose one), answered a questionnaire about my work, and edited the piece that Kristina wrote. I've also been very good and not mentioned it in public until now (as the editor requested).

Now I'm anxious about whether it's actually IN there or not... in theory, all has gone ahead as planned. But if someone has a copy, can you look for me? It should be in the section called "World Knits" (renamed from "Brit Knits" in my honour, as I'm Aussie not British :) I'm a subscriber now, so I'm not sure when my copy will arrive.

I hope to get back to painting very soon, once my brother's funeral is over (Friday 4 Jan; the inquest showed that he died of a heart attack, as expected). Stay tuned! There will be new paintings!

And Kristina - your e-mail was a massive highlight in what has been a pretty crappy year on many counts. Thank you again.

25 December 2007

Xmas and all that

Aaah Lulu, she can't help herself when there are twinkly shiny things around! She is trying, in her own trying way, to wish you all a very merry Christmas (and just be glad she's not at your house trying to steal the presents!)


The only Christmas baking I've done so far - Kuka's Mini Christmas Puddings - loved by all! I can see these ones becoming a regular Christmas treat.

Thank you everyone for your well-wishes, prayers, kind and loving words and thoughts - I'm truly touched. And thank you all for being there for me all through this difficult year, on so many levels ... here's to a better 2008, hey?

23 December 2007


My little brother Tim died at 2.30 this afternoon. He lost consciousness, they called an ambulance, but he died before reaching hospital (across the road). He was 27.

I spent 2 hours with him (and Mum) yesterday, and he was fairly good then, not in too much pain and quite on the ball. I'm glad I went, even though it was hard. I was able to give him a foot massage, and say I forgave him for some (minor) things which had been magnified, distorted and preying on his mind for years, and told him I loved him.

The final indignity is that since he was in state care in a psychiatric care facility, his death is being treated as a "death in custody", and there is going to be an inquest and autopsy. I'm finding this utterly devastating. I don't understand why they can't just leave him alone. His death was expected, there were no suspicious circumstances. The police were at the hospital soon after he died, and my parents were interviewed, and all the staff who cared for him and his doctors are being interviewed...

I suppose the autopsy is to determine the exact cause of death. I guess it's standard procedure in these circumstances, but I still wish we didn't have to go through this. We don't know when his body will be released to us, so we can't plan his funeral. Probably early January. He will be buried at the Cobargo Cemetery (on the south coast), which is very close to Mum and our brother Dave (they both live within walking distance of the cemetery).

The photo is of him soon after arriving from Korea in 1985 (he was adopted when he was 5), with Mum.

Sweet dreams little brother.

21 December 2007

Christmas? What Christmas?

Ah life, it rushes on at a million miles an hour, ignoring festivities and such like. Hasn't been a great week - both my brother Tim and my beloved puppy Lily are going downhill.

Tim's doctors say he's only got a few days to live. He's up and about, not bedridden, but obviously in pain - when he goes it will be sudden, apparently, his heart will just stop. My mum is up from the coast, and she and Dad are spending as much time with him as they can. They're discussing funeral arrangements with him, and he is very much at peace with what's happening, and acknowledges that he's dying because of what he did to himself (year of drug abuse). Hubby and I are going to visit him tomorrow :/

Lily isn't responding to her meds as well, and is retaining fluid and breathing too fast. We will take her to the vet when she's obviously distressed, but for the moment she's resting a lot, eating a little, and seems to be mostly happy. It's an awful decision to have to make :(

As for me, I'm trying to stop having anxiety attacks, and start thinking about impending festivities a little bit. I really hope neither of them dies on Christmas Day, that would be a bit awful.

In a lighter vein, here is a comic that addresses a very serious concern - is CUTE dangerous?! Llamas in bowler hats could very well be pushing the limits! Sorry if it's a bit of a morbid comic - but it suits my mood of late ...

16 December 2007

Crossword Bag progress

I know it's a shock - actual knitting content on what is - after all - a KNITTING blog!

The crossword bag being sewn up ....



... stay tuned for more photos soon AND the pattern on my web site!


Sunday addition : here the bag is all sewn up. I realised then that the tags of the nice leather handles I bought are quite big, and I don't want them stitched onto the crossword grid section. I've picked up stitches around the top of the bag, and am knitting a black border to accommodate the handles.

14 December 2007

Worst. Move. Ever.

This move was officially our Worst Move Ever (and this was our 11th as a couple, and includes overseas moves).

The moving company was a shocker. We had the fridge and freezer empty, everything was ready to go when they called at 10am saying they'd be at our place "any minute".

By 2pm they still hadn't shown (our 'moving time slot' was 11 am - 2pm), so we called only to find out they'd been double-booked, but would 'be with us soon'... Once we got to 4 pm Hubby took over making the nagging phone calls - now they'd had a truck break down. They'd be there soon. Yeah.

We kept doing car loads of boxes and stuff, making sure there was someone at the old place all the time. We remembered to vote (Go Kevin 07!); it was Son's first time voting - aaah, he's growing up ;)

Hubby stayed at the old place in case these mythical movers showed up, and the kids and I went to Chez Spidey for a quick roast chook and salad dinner, and to hear some election results (HOO-FUCKING-RAY!!!!! SO THRILLED!!!). Shaky tired, but had to keep going. Back to the new place... still no sign of the bloody movers.

We were about to find temporary accommodation for the night (as all beds had been dismantled), when they FINALLY showed up. At 9.15 pm. 3 young blokes who'd been working without a break since 6.30 am - the bosses in Melbourne (who did the great job double booking us) didn't allow such things. Yay WorkChoices. They manhandled our larger furniture into the truck, taking gouges out of concrete steps and paintwork... (if anyone wants to know which moving company to avoid, just e-mail me).

They were unloading by 11.30pm at our new place, and done by just after midnight - and the poor buggers had to go on to ANOTHER job. It was more expensive than we'd been expecting too. I had to throw out all the freezer food which had long since defrosted. They broke a drainage pipe on the fridge, but thankfully Hubby has about a million experience points at fixing things, and he was able to repair it.

To add insult to injury they only did 1 trip, rather than the 2 we'd wanted, so we spent all of Sunday moving furniture on trailers and stuff - tables, desks, chairs and more hadn't been taken by them - which we weren't really equipped to do. Not to mention the boxes. Ooooh, the boxes. I thought they'd never end.

Add into this about 25 hours of (mainly me) scrubbing the old house (windows, walls, doors, floors, cupboards, ceilings, eaves, oven etc etc etc), tidying up the garden (me and BF's mum), cleaning the NEW house because it was filthy (Dotter and Friend K), tip trips (Hubby & Son & BF), endless trips (over 500 kilometres in each of two cars in 3 days) - OMFG, it was really really horrible.

But we got our full bond back at the old place, and the new place is a huge improvement, despite the garden. Photos of the insides to come, once things are a bit better set up. Still lots of boxes everywhere...

Over the whole 6 grisly days of the move / clean, Friend J, Happy Spider, Bells and Sean, Friend K, and my Dad all helped - thank you guys, it made all the difference.

Well, let's focus on the good bits now - the new house is GREAT. Here at last are a few pics of the outside :

The front - the master bedroom is on the far right, living room on the left of the front door, BOTH with bay windows (yes, they're big enough to sit in! Happy window dance!). No lawn, just woodchips with weeds.


Round the back - the yard isn't much... the entire lawn is 100% weeds. Sigh. No lawn watering is allowed under water restrictions, so there's no point doing anything about it. There's a massive rosemary bush near the clothes line, though, and the fences are all high so at last we have some PRIVACY.

The sliding door goes into the family room / kitchen, and the window on the far left is Dotter & BF's room. The dining room window and double garage are on the immediate right edge of the photo (but you can't really see them). Son is cooking up a storm on our gas BBQ ...



Along a bit - you can see the back of the house, with single tree, shed, and clothes line.


And now the view of the other side at the back - clothes line is behind you here - the path leads to the laundry. My office window is just past the laundry door.

On the knitting front, I'm making slow progress on the Sherwood Jumper and Crossword Bag, but have pretty much lost my knitting mojo at the moment. I'm just utterly exhausted and short-tempered and depressed ... I'll get over it, I know, I just need about a week of real, actual, not-looking-after-other-people, not-shopping, not-unpacking-a-box, not-trying-to-get-rid-of-half-of-whats's-in-said-box, not-doing-Christmas-stuff, just-staring-at-the-wall REST. Chances.

12 December 2007

Hippo BIrdy Two Ewe!

Hey everyone, head on over to Taph's Blog and wish her a

VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!

It's because of her that I got back into knitting - and look where it's leading me ...
She's a great friend (or should I say - "enabler" ;)

11 December 2007

Butterfly Books

At long last, my Butterfly Books collage has been printed on its BookCrossing book label! I did the artwork about 2 years ago... and it's finally available on the CafePress Supply Store. As always, my collages are all paper (and mostly recycled paper at that) - no paint!

Some close up detail - see, the mountains are made of books!

The yellow book has 'Off to see the world' on its cover...


More books flapping off to foreign shores!


I think the original artwork will be up for auction (all proceeds go to support BookCrossing). The artwork is unframed, on heavy board, and is about 20" x 30" (ie a reasonable size). You can read more about it (and me) on my Artist's Bio Page.

Additional Info : OK, I've just heard back from Heather at BookCrossing; she says they will set up an auction sometime, but it's not likely to be soon. I'll announce it on this blog when the time comes :)

09 December 2007

Ta dah - it's a wedding!

Finally! The Wedding Photos :D There are a lot (and this is only a small selection), so I've made them little, and you can click on them to see them bigger...

Our flight to Brisbane went smoothly - Dotter's first flight in 12 years, so it was a novelty for her. Boyfriend M is a more seasoned traveller, and on this trip has established a new travelling tradition, of needing a big bowl of hot chips and gravy before boarding! I like it!

We were met by my lovely host, Greg (of Puzzle Wizard fame, my only cruciverbalist colleague!), and renewed acquaintance with his lovely wife and step-daughter. The only blight on this otherwise restful afternoon was Dotter having a massive diabetic hypo (low blood sugar), and nearly passing out, unable to speak or move - her worst one to date, very scary. She was conscious enough to drink soft drink, thankfully, and was soon restored.

This is the wedding of my (adopted) brother Ben to Melissa, held in Brisbane on 1 December 07. It was held at the Catholic church Our Lady of Victories, in Bowen Hills. This photo shows Ben on the far right, then our brother Dave in the middle, and Ben's Best Man Bryan on the left - waiting for the bride!

She's arrived! This is Ben and Mel listening to the Father.... he got a little teary (my brother, not the Father ;)

The whole bridal party, with my niece Ruby (Dave's daughter) as flower girl...

Vows have been made, bride has been kissed, they're all married now! Awwwwww....

Very attractive couple, no? Ben's birth mother was Thai, in case you're wondering. Our family adopted him when he was 1 month old.

Choice moment - my 2-year-old nephew Ben (below) saying "Uh oh!" really loudly just after the priest had pronounced some solemn words about the sanctity of marriage in the eyes of God ;) Appealed to the atheists on our side of the family (ie all of us)! LOL!

There were hundreds of people at the wedding - Mel's family is a very influential and wealthy Chinese Australian family, and about half of the guests had come to Brisbane from interstate or overseas... here's young Ruby (nearly 6) and Mel outside the church, getting ready for endless photos! Plus you can see some of the crowd... thankfully it wasn't too hot or humid, the weather was lovely - warm, and only a bit windy.

My little sister Jen has a very funky sense of style - I just loved her dress (a little something she picked up in London, where she's a curator at the British Museum). She couldn't take her eyes off her son Ben (we share names in our family!) ... he's the recipient of the Sherwood jumper soon, and is a little dynamo - gets into trouble at the drop of a hat! He's trying to make a get-away here ...

After the wedding there was a few hours before the reception, so Mel's parents very kindly invited their new in-laws (ie all 20 of us) and other family and close friends back to their place in New Farm. Did I mention they're fairly well off?
Dotter and I are sitting on the marble floor / steps of their family room...

The back of their place... yeah, there's a pool. And a jetty with a boat, on Brisbane River.

To get to the reception, we walked to the end of the street, and got the CityCat, which was surprisingly cheap and great fun. Boat rides being a novelty for us Canberra types, Dotter, Boyfriend M, and I sat out the front and enjoyed the ride to Brett's Wharf!

The huge marquee had seating for around 220! All festooned with white fabric and fairy lights - really beautiful. Hard to photograph, too, most of my pics are fuzzy and a bit crap... the woman sitting down on the left is my mum, and the man on her right is my step-father.

Mel and Ben made all the centre pieces on each table ... there were orchids everywhere in this wedding... !

The cake was elegantly simple , with these cute sugar figurines on the top, Mel and Ben (spiked hair included!) :


The reception ran very smoothly - Dave was the MC, and did the job well. There were stories of Ben and Mel as youngsters, a Power Point slide presentation, with a nice selection of photos. The Best Man's speech was suitably cringe-making. The food was very good, if a bit sparse... it bucketed down rain right in the middle of Ben's 'Groom's Speech', but he carried on regardless! And the Bridal Waltz was impressive - Ben was worried about his dancing prowess, so they had taken dancing lessons, and had a whole routine worked out.

By this time it was late (11pm, which was midnight to us Southerners' body clocks), so we bailed at this point. I'm sure the dancing and loud music went on for some time!

And what did I learn from the day? You can use chewing gum to stick an artificial nail back on - for a while at least ;)

On Sunday we headed back to Mel's parent's home, and participated with her large extended family in a traditional Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony, where the bride and groom offer tea to the members of their families, as a mark of respect, and then we give them either a gift of jewellery or a red envelope of money. I'd brought the Elegant Lap Rug to give them, so I put a token amount in my envelope. The mood was quite relaxed, but also serious.

Then lunch was on! There was a whole pig, roast on a spit - another traditional wedding fare - the head is chopped off first, and would traditionally have been presented to the groom. The rest of the pig was then chopped up - and it was really delicious! The food was plentiful and pretty straightforward - chicken, salads, curry, bread, and so on.

Here's Ben, Mel, Dotter and me... Mel's red dress is very symbolic - red is THE wedding colour in China, it signifies love, joy and prosperity. And yes, they loved the Elegant Lap Rug :)

After this, we headed to the house my brother Dave and sister Jen and their families had rented, and had a 'just our family' dinner ('just' 18 of us....)! Another late night, but good fun, and great to catch up with long-lost cousins, Uncle Toes, Aunty Libby, siblings, nieces, nephews, and parents.... Boyfriend M handled the crowds and mayhem pretty well, it's pretty overwhelming for someone from a small family (I'm the eldest of 6 kids)!

On Monday Ben & Mel left for a month travelling through Asia, [lie mode] no, no, I'm not the slightest bit jealous; and me and the two teens flew back to Canberra. It was a great trip, and an amazing wedding experience, but really pretty full on - it's good to be home - I missed my boxes (oh, did I leave lie mode on?)... ;)

05 December 2007

How to Knit on an Aussie Plane

Knitting is not permitted on Australian flights, as knitting needles (and crochet hooks) are clearly Very Dangerously Sharp Things.

However, you can take pencils on board....

Varnish the tips with Estapol ... leave to dry for a few days.


Measure and mark their diameter. If you're not moving house and can find things, you can wrap elastic bands around the ends too!


Here they are in action, in flight. My pencil needles got through security without any comment, as did my ball of yummy Noro. When the opportunity presented itself, I took a deep breath, and asked the flight attendant if it was OK for me to knit with the pencils - she said I could, and commented that it was a great idea! So I happily knitted for about an hour (Taph's diagonal scarf pattern), and fitted 17 stitches on the pencils comfortably.


HOWEVER.

Close to the end of the flight, a different flight attendant (an older woman) walked past, and told me I wasn't allowed to knit on a flight, and gave the impression that I was somehow 'cheating' by using pencils. I said that I had asked, and had been given permission, but that I would put it away right away, which I did (I didn't want to cause a scene, or get a bad name for us knitters!). She was pretty disapproving of the whole thing.

So the moral is... if you're lucky, you can knit something narrow on 7mm pencil needles. It's really the luck of the draw with who you get as a flight attendant. But maybe if enough of us do this - making a point about how crazy it is that it's OK to DRAW with a pencil but not to KNIT with a pencil... maybe they'll change the policy? Or perhaps it's the yarn they object to? ;)

03 December 2007

Back again!

Hello everyone! I'm alive!

The news in brief :

1) The move has happened, despite a huge stuff up by the moving company (which turned up 10 hours late, at 9pm, and delivered our stuff by midnight, and only did one trip instead of two.... plus I had to throw out all the food from the freezer). I didn't think it was every going to end, the trips between the two houses, and then roughly 25 hours of hard work cleaning the old place. We got our full bond back, and many friends helped along the way - thank you, you know who you are!

2) We're in our new place, and just about everything is In The Garage. In A Box. Sigh. Still LOTS to do. But the house is great, we love it. Photos soon!

3) Our aDSL and phone company between them stuffed up our web access, which is now mostly sorted - we're on the aDSL 2 Plus line, with up to 10 times faster internet (w00t!), but although I can get my email, I can't send it yet, until I talk with my ISP again tomorrow... sigh.

4) Dotter, Boyfriend, and I have been to Brisbane for my brother's wedding, which was very fancy, huge, and went smoothly. I'm now related to an incredibly wealthy Australian Chinese family, how cool is that? Lots of pics and stories before too much longer...

5) And last but not least - I manged to knit - with permission - on a Virgin Blue flight - again, full story with pics soon! Don't get too excited, it was a bit of tricky luck ... not a major policy change... but it was possible ;)

OK, must get back to unpacking and culling - we're trying to reduce our belongings by a lot, I'm aiming for half, in the hope that I may actually achieve a one third reduction :)

Miss you all - will catch up in the weeks ahead!

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