I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it

I’m about to lose control and I think I like it…

To steal two lines from a Pointer Sisters chorus! About what I hear you ask…

Socks! The knitting of socks. And I have my daughter and Tin Can Knits to thank.

Did I say I was excited?? I have just finished my first ever knitted sock. I am SO proud of myself. Back to the start, and heed this advice to avoid my predicament, “don’t ask an almost five year old what they want, and if you do then don’t listen”!! My daughter sees me knit, and she is starting to show some potential interest herself, and very recently she actually asked me to knit her something. I of course being a generous foolhardy mum asked her what she would like, “socks Mum” came the reply. Where the *insert swear word of choice* did that come from? Now I have had a desire to try knitting a pair of socks; indeed I bought a ball of wool and some double pointed needles at least a year ago to embark on this adventure, the afore mentioned wool and needles languishing in the cupboard hidden from sight, untouched by my hands. I half heartedly tried the, “I have never made socks” line on my little girl, to no avail. Mum clearly can do anything. What is more she wanted me to use her rainbow yarn. This girl knows what she wants.

How to get out of this dilemma? Tin Can Knits to the rescue. I had stumbled upon them quite some time back, and quite fancy more than one of their knits. Their whole seamless approach to knitting has great appeal (translation: I think I would almost rather lose a limb they have to sew up my knitting!). And in hunting for a sock pattern for a child I stumbled upon their Rye pattern (here) and the words learn how to knit socks. For some reason I took the plunge. All I can say is if you have never knitted a sock before I utterly recommend this pattern. The instructions, particularly all the additional links you can click on, are fabulous. I feel like I am being enabled to tackle other patterns and knit more socks. My poor other half, he has been subjected to me going, “look at this, look at this” more than once through the course of the sock. I was so taken by what I was doing that I actually took the knitting with me to a venue, it initiated a conversation with a lady who worked there, and I gave her the pattern.

The other reason I may become hooked on knitting socks is this will be the fastest I have ever completed a knitted item…socks are small…I sense more socks in my future…I am about to lose control…

Finally the verdict of the small person who triggered such dilemma followed by such joy. Let’s just say the one sock is already being worn. I am happy.

And to really show I am approaching my dotage… I recorded the song this blog post references on a cassette tape off the radio!

How do you tell small children about death?

This is not meant to be a sombre post at all, rather I am sharing how I have tackled what I think is one of the more difficult concepts for young children, that of people dying.

I am a scientist by training, a fact is a fact. So I always like to tell the truth. On the flip side I love to indulge the imaginary – Father Christmas/Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (not yet required and apparently I will have to take out a mortgage for how much you get a tooth these days!) are alive and well in our house. And I will be endeavouring to keep them believed for as long as possible. However the opportunity to broach death for the first time presented itself.

I have just been away from my daughter for the longest time in her life to date (four nights), having gone home to support my sister after the death of my brother-in-law. I may have mentioned before, we are a small family, albeit one stretched in age range – 15 years between my sister and I (12 and 1/2 years between my brother and I), and there was 17 years between my sister and her husband. While his death was anticipated it perhaps happened a little earlier than we all thought, and knowing it was going to happen certainly did not make it any easier for my sister.

When I returned my almost but not quite yet 5 year old asked why I had gone (she also told me she had missed me), to which I replied that I had been supporting my sister, which was swiftly followed by why? Having thought I would not say anything yet about death, in that moment it just seemed like the right thing to say. And so I explained, remember Uncle C, the man with the funny glasses (on Skype he would always put on fake glasses with a false nose to talk to her) well he has died, he has gone to sleep for ever; and I went home to support Aunty C. Supporting my sister seemed to make sense to her. However she did double check – “he isn’t going to wake up?

Sitting on the stairs was a copy of the funeral service with his photo, and when we walked up I asked her who that was. She said “that’s Uncle C but he’s dead“, in that kind of dismissive, I am not interested in him anymore tone. Not long after, “where is he if he has gone to sleep for ever?” For now I have suggested he is a cloud in sky, to which she asked, “which one, how do we know which one is his?” Great question, fortunately I got away with we will have to look. There has been a few ‘dead’ comments, lots of her toys have died, but nothing too serious, and the topic has now faded away.

So for anyone about to broach this topic, I do not think there is a right or a wrong time, nor a better or a worse time, simply opportunities will present themselves and you take the one that feels right for you. And if you have some tips for what to say when “the cloud” notion no longer cuts it, I would be glad to hear them.

telling children about death

Current definition of a petrol head…

…me!

Deep dark confession time. On occasion I am a fan of fast cars. Perhaps even worse I have liked cars since I was quite young.

I am at the F1 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park this weekend. I have always wanted to go in the grandstand, so this year have grand stand tickets at silly dollars – yay something ticked off my “do before I die” list. And for me worth the price.

And what I am really enjoying…for once it is the male persuasion queuing for the toilets rather than me! Yippee!! How often can a girl say that?

F1 Melbourne

Image courtesy of http://www.grandprix.com.au/

From hank to ball and a new stitch

Over Christmas I visited Hokitika for the first time – the joy of family who relocate enabling you to see new places. For some unknown reason I did a bit of advance preparation, as in I found out there was the world famous, or “perhaps world famous in NZ” Sock World Hokitika – here is their website and facebook page. Small town NZ is a large part of my childhood so I love to support local endeavours. And while I am absolutely not the world’s best sock knitter – I have yet to even try knitting a pair of socks – I am of course craft curious, and my before I went search had alerted me to the fact that they may have also sold yarn… And of course it was the yarn that I was after, I wanted to buy something that I would associate with the place.

For my little girl, with her input (have to have that these days unless you are keen to start WW3!) I have three hanks of beautiful 10 ply Waterspout Felted Yarn (75% superfine merino 25% possum). It is so light and soft. No idea what I will make for her yet, but that is part of the adventure. There is a beautiful hint of black in the yarn.

Anyway last night for the very first time I took a hank of yarn and created a ball of yarn. I am so proud of myself! It is a huge ball – I put the tape measure in the photo for a sense of scale, it is about 12 cm in diameter. I followed the sage advice from Craftsy here, and in reading the comments there was a great tip about continuing to wrap the yarn around your finger as you create the ball; it worked a treat.

Sock World HokitikaSo what am I going to make with the beautiful sea green teal that I bought for myself? What I initially wanted to make is the utterly gorgeous pleated scarf by Jen Geizen on the left below, but alas I do not have enough yarn. I suspect I may go out and buy enough of some other yarn to make that scarf – I love it! Instead I am going to try a new stitch – the garter drop stitch – the effect looks amazing, yet the technique appears rather easy; a combination I am fond of. There is a pattern for the scarf on the right below, but you almost do not need it. Hoping to finish the scarf for this winter. And here’s to the family staying put in Hokitika for a while, I want to go back to Sock World Hokitika and buy more!

Image on left courtesy of Craftsy.com and image on right courtesy of Redheart.com

Current definition of p*ssed off!

We are conscientious in the purchase of goods, an example being buying refills instead of a whole new bottle. With a small child (ok and with messy adults!) spray on stain remover is bloody useful. Bought the refill the other day as getting towards low on the existing bottle. This morning it was time to do the swap over. Not being wasteful I tip the last little bit from the old bottle into the new bottle and then go to screw on the spray part of the bottle. They have changed the bloody size – it does not fit. I am not known as a swearer but I dropped the f-bomb (small child not in the house so no ears were harmed). So I then had to pour the entirely new bottle into the old bottle. I can tell you this is not the way to start a day. P*ssed off! Having vented I now feel much better.

My heart has melted

Utterly out of the blue last night, my daughter at the ripe old age of four & three quarter years, asks can you teach me to knit. You could have pushed me over with a feather at that moment. I think my heart turned to mush. It was the last thing I expected her to say. I of course said yes, shall we do that tomorrow morning, a hearty yes being the reply.

She then immediately asked me who taught me to knit – one of my childhood memories came flooding back. Me, about five years old sitting on my brother’s lap in the kitchen – he reading a book to teach himself to teach me – with Mum on hand for tips. I still have that book. So I replied my brother – who is your brother the next question. Uncle K (the whole a person can be more than one thing still does not sit well – its my nana not your mum!).

This morning she asks are you teaching me to knit after I am dressed – the keenness is real. We started with some of my needles but they were clearly to big. A quick internet search confirmed that kids’ needles exist, she picking on screen which ones she wanted, so off we went to Spotlight to find them. Needless to say the pink pair were acquired, along with some pink sparkly wool and some rainbow wool – all her own choosing.
knitting north melbourne

To help teach her I am using the rhyme from this post which I also found this morning – thank you Tin Can Knits. My little sweetheart says I am going to make something for you, something for daddy, and something for me. Heart melt! And while it will clearly take her some time to get the hang of this, and I need to find out if I should be teaching her differently as she is left handed to my right handed, her “independent as hell” nature is already in full flight. Keen to do it on her own she demanded I go and get my current knitting – because she wants us to knit together. Heart melt more! I even had to take her knitting down the road with us for lunch. As a die hard Sci Fi person I have to save the force could be strong with this one!

Can you remember learning to knit or teaching someone else?

So what does freedom taste like?

Sweet! And pun intended I am afraid!  I have indulged in culinary pleasures with my new found taste of freedom. Perhaps like many of you, I have a list of things I would like to try but have either not had or made the time. Well that has changed, and I have knocked two things of my list – jam and ice cream – and I have even managed to combine the two.

I remember my Mum making jam, there was always loads of plum jam which was never my favourite, clearly we had plum trees. When we lived in the UK Dad and I would go blackberry picking – I have fond memories of Dad and I scrambling in and around bushes. More importantly blackberry jam was my absolute favourite.

When I was at the Queen Victoria Markets I noticed that I could buy three punnets of strawberries for just $4.50, and that triggered my thoughts and started me looking at recipes. I am now very proud to say that I have made strawberry jam; and it was not as complicated nor as time consuming as I imagined it might be, and it set (with some help from Jamsetta).

I have now also made ice cream for the first time in my life, and even the “hard to get a compliment out of other half” thinks it tastes like the real deal. I made strawberry ripple ice cream by hand, using my jam. Again not that complicated, I would make both jam and ice cream again. Making them myself has also reminded me that jam and ice cream are not health foods! I also made a strawberry cloud cake, definitely not a dieter’s special! My thanks to Annabel Langbein, it was her ice cream base recipe and strawberry cloud cake recipe that I used.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Bee Sustainable on Lygon St, I went there to purchase some Kleerview covers before making my jam, and at the time they did not have any in stock, but very kindly directed me to Fowlers Vacola– back in North Melbourne (asking if I was familiar with North Melbourne – just a little!) and in doing so giving up a sale. And thanks to Fowlers for suggesting the Jamsetta when I said I was making jam for the first time.

So what does freedom taste like? For me rather a sweet start! When you made a change, how was it for you?