26 February 2010

Oooh pretty little bee

Having a bit of fun playing around with the gorgeous templates from The Cutest Blog on the Block ... still the same blog, just a new look!

Firstly, thank you everyone who wrote such lovely and thoughtful comments about Uncle Paul. He was a very special person, and I wish I'd had more time with him.

Miss Petal gave us all a scare earlier this week - she got too friendly with a bee! Her poor little face got all swollen, and I rushed her to the vet for injections of anti-histamine and cortisone. On the advice of Petal's breeder, and many other chi owners, I now have Bendryl (with anti-histamine) in the cupboard for first aid. Her throat had the worst swelling, so I wonder whether she actually ate the ill-fated bee! The vet couldn't find any sign of the stinger.

Around 11.30pm the injections must have worn off, as she then developed raised reddish welts on her legs and around her mouth. Thankfully they disappeared within an hour or two, but we had an unsettled night, checking her to make sure all was well.

And it was - she's bright and active again, and hopefully has learnt her lesson about being friends with insects! As Viv, her breeder, says, chihuahuas are 'treacle beaks', always sticking their noses into something!

Proof that chihuahuas hunt in (back)packs :)

16 February 2010

Uncle Paul

Hubby and I have both lost favourite uncles in less than a year ...

On Saturday 6 February Hubby's Uncle Paul finally lost his 6 year battle with cancer. He died in his eldest daughter's arms, as she was giving him a drink of water. Today would have been his 79th birthday.

William Dargie was a family friend of Hubby's grandparents (as was Daryl Lindsay); Dargie painted this portrait of Paul (aged 9 or 10) as a gift to Paul's parents (Hubby's grandparents).

Uncle Paul was a wonderful man. Softly spoken, kind, intelligent, and a real gentleman ... A devoted and gentle father and grandfather. He never argued, or caused problems, but quietly got on with things, and succeeded as well. He also had a wicked sense of humour. The Goon Show was a firm favourite.

He listened to ABC Classic FM while he painted every day (my favourite radio station as well). He was a commercial artist (what we now call a graphic designer), and taught at the RMIT. In later years he focussed on painting sublime watercolours from the Australian landscape, and was a compassionate and insightful teacher. He was a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute (Paul Warner, near the end). His father Ralph Malcolm Warner - Hubby's grandfather - was also a professional artist, serving as a war artist during WWII.

Hubby and I travelled up to Sydney last Thursday to attend Paul's memorial service on Friday. We travelled by the early train, and loved the trip - the nice thing about train travel is how close to the countryside you are, and the lovely old station buildings.

I even got some lace knitting done (Snowdrift by Susan Pandorf - knitted in Fibreworks Possum Merino) ... a long-neglected project.

In Sydney we had a few hours for lunch at the elegant Queen Victoria Building...

... and a blissful first (but not last!) visit to Books Kinokuniya, the best bookstore I've ever been in. Which is saying something. I bought a copy of this ... and Hubby started our Lindsey Davis collection.

We stayed with Hubby's Aunty Rona - their house is like an art gallery, with original works by Dargie, Lindsey, Paul, as well as other Australian artists, and Rona. You'll remember the amazing knitted vegetables and tea cosies she made ... she also paints.

After the memorial service, there was afternoon tea at the Mona Vale Hotel - we had good protection from the summer showers, which gave us some respite from the heat. As ever, the sadness of the day was tempered by the enjoyment of catching up with cousins and their families, who we haven't seen in years.

02 February 2010

Birthdays with Yarn

Just over a week ago, I hosted a very belated birthday tea for my dear friend K - with various elderly mothers and young friends coming along. There was a wonderful spread, including Bells' astonishing Jewish Orange and Almond Cake! This was the first social event I've held since surgery, and it was seriously enjoyable.

K's partner C - who not only bakes and cooks extremely well, but also knits (yes, he even comes to Stitch'n Bitch!) - made this stunning cake for her.

The balls of wool are separate pieces of cake, iced very cleverly to look like yarn! A lot of fondant icing – C even pressed the tan-coloured icing sheets into a real basket to get the texture – and the cake was very good (a rich fruit cake). The red knitting needles are real (ie you can knit with them, but not eat them – hmmm, edible knitting needles, you reckon there's a market ... ?!).

I've not been feeling like knitting much lately - still working on getting off the oxycontin, and having withdrawal symptoms, plus I've got a mild virus of some sort, all of which affects my knitting mojo and general coping-ness – besides, it's just too damn hot.

So I've been sewing instead. This fabric is from a doona cover I got from Salvos for $6.00 (queen sized doona cover, plus 2 pillow cases - bargain!). I've turned some of the cover into curtains for the kitchen :

I cut them over the side seams, so half of each curtain has stripes (the back of the cover), and half has dots (the front of the cover). Since this photo was taken I've also added sun-reflective backing.

And this is a wrapper for my Greensacks, to keep them together in my bag when I'm grocery shopping ... it's just a rectangle of fabric, with a buttonhole at one end, and a button sewed on in the appropriate spot. I put the bags together at the far end of the wrapper, roll them up like sushi, and button it closed.

And also on my 'repurposing' kick, I got this really nice handknit vest from Salvos for $7. Interesting slip stitch pattern, actually ... was a bit sad to undo all that work, but there were a few holes.

I thought it was wool, but wasn't entirely sure - and was vindicated by The Jar of Truth (a small glass jar with a bit of bleach in it) - yes, pure wool! Animal fibres will completely dissolve in bleach.

I unravelled the vest, skeined it, washed it ...

... and wound it into balls again. Producing 300g (6 balls) of what I think is probably Paton's Bluebell (it's wool crepe 5ply) in a great colour, for $7.00. Aaah, such smug satisfaction ;)

Another birthday party, this time for my sister, at Weston Park last weekend. Dotter enjoyed some cuddles with her newest cousin Tom ... what a cute pair! She made the dreadfalls herself (hand-dyed and felted strands of wool) – very cool, although a little too hot for summer wear!

And here's your Petal photo for today ... snuggled up in a towel bed, on Daddy's legs, getting the pampering she deserves. Aaaaaaaaaaw ...