Archive for September, 2009

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Three Shawls

27 September 2009

I’ve just finished knitting three shawls.  Unfortunately, I only have one to show for all that work!

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I’ve no idea what the problem was but I knitted many rows more than once, some 3 or 4 times.  I just couldn’t stop myself from going wrong.

I recently made an Ishbel shawl and liked the idea of stocking stitch with a lace edge.  But I didn’t like having to do increases on the wrong side (I kept forgetting).  So I decided I’d knit something similar with increases only on the right side and then add some lace stitches from a wonderful book  – Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn A Clark. 

I made sure the stitch count was perfect before I started the lace but at one point had to rip back 12 rows.  Maybe my concentration levels are just shot to pieces at the moment.  I wanted to make it bigger but as I was on a winning streak (ie I managed to knit four rows without mistakes) I decided to cross the finishing line early.  It’s worked out at 158 x 78mm  after blocking.

The yarn is Morris & Son 2 ply merino (chosen because it’s the exact colour of a dress I want to wear with it – a slate grey/blue), knitted with Claudia Handpainted 2 ply silk (silver grey).  I’m fairly new to this lace knitting lark and this isn’t perfect but I’m not expecting anyone to peer too closely!

Edited To Add: My clever friend, Emily, has suggested that 15.8cm x 7.8cm is a TAD small. OK, you’re right. It’s 158cm x 78cm NOT mm.

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Things Your Mother Says

23 September 2009

Well, my mother says them, anyway.

I’m going back to spend time with her in a couple of weeks (she lives about 50 miles north of London) and I know I will be constantly told “Mind the oven; it’s hot” and “Be careful with that knife; it’s sharp”. As though I could have managed to reach my ripe old age without understanding that ovens get hot and that knives that aren’t sharp aren’t much use.  I’ve lived away from home since I was 18 without too many burns and haven’t stabbed anyone yet.

When we were children, she often accused us of “treating the place like a hotel”.  Nothing unusual in that, you may think.  All parents have said it at some time or other to their teenage children.  But it WAS a hotel!  When we pointed this out to her, of course we were told not to answer back.

And now whenever we speak on the phone, she says “You sound miles away”.  Failing a move to the Outer Hebrides by my mother and my decamping to Antarctica, we really couldn’t be much further apart.   

Mothers tell me that they always told themselves that they wouldn’t say THAT to their children, then find themselves churning out the same cliches their mothers did.  I’ve no children but I’ve found myself saying to young women I work with who are complaining about the cold “Well, you’d be a bit warmer if you wore more clothes”.   I cringe when I realise what it must sound like. 

Maybe it’s in our genes. 

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It Makes You Weep

16 September 2009

Everyone knows I’m a hard bitch – people who don’t know me well think that anyway.  I’m deliberately barren for a start.  No maternal instinct; must hate children.  I even believe it myself sometimes.

But last night I watched a TV documentary and cried.  That was after I’d practically had to be restrained from throwing something at the screen.

The programme was about the adoption of Ethiopian children by American families.  I have severe concerns about international adoption anyway but that’s another story.  I can understand that a loving family, anywhere in the world, is better than NO family.  But the children in this story DID have families.  They had mothers.

An American Christian “charity” goes to Ethiopia apparently to ask the local people whether they’d like their children to be sent to the USA for a better way of life and education.  Ethiopian mothers, like their counterparts everywhere in the world, want the best for their children and when they’re at rock bottom, homeless and with little money for food they can see this as a way to give their children previously undreamed of opportunities. 

One mother was deserted by her husband and homeless so she agreed to allow her 2 children to be adopted, assured by the agency that the children would be in regular contact.  Two years later and not a word from them.  She doesn’t even know where they are.

Another woman, a widow, was having difficulty bringing up 3 children.  Along came Mr and Mrs Gooley, whose name caused the only light relief in this film as the presenter constantly referred to them as the Goolies (maybe that’s only funny in British English?).  The Goolies are a middle-aged couple with grown-up children.  So off they went to Ethiopia to fill their empty nest.  Before they took the children off to America, they presented the mother with a framed photograph.  She handed over 3 children and in return got a framed photo.  When she came to say goodbye to her children, I couldn’t help but cry along with her.

I know nothing about bringing up children.  But I DO know that mothers, or fathers, or at least a close member of the family, are the best people to do the job, other than in pretty exceptional circumstances.  Poverty shouldn’t be a factor. 

If the Goolies cared so much about children, why didn’t they offer financial help?  I would have thought that just a few dollars a month would probably cover the food/education/healthcare of this family.  If the Goolies cared so much about children, why didn’t they have any understanding that what they were doing was second only to killing someone’s child?

Maybe I’m imagining this but I also felt there were serious racist overtones to all this.  We take kittens away from their mothers, fairly safe in the knowledge that in a short space of time, the mother forgets.  The same belief once existed about American slaves.  Maybe these selfish, stupid women still believe this. 

If I, a hard-nosed barren woman, who really has no concept of maternal feelings, can cry over another woman’s children, how these mothers are going to get through the rest of their lives, I just can’t imagine.

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And Sometimes I Knit!

15 September 2009

I DO knit – really I do.  I just haven’t actually FINISHED much lately as life seems to have got in the way.  And one thing I really DON’T do is photography. 

But I’m trying to clear the decks as I’m off to England for a month’s holiday in 3 weeks’ time.  So in the last few days I’ve finished two garments (and even photographed them but the photography is up to – or rather down to – my usual abysmal standard).    

First off the needles, my Juniper Jacket.  Knit to my own design in Bendigo Woollen Mills Allegro.  Have to say it looks much better on than off and I’ve had a few nice compliments from people other than my closest friends (who I can always rely on to say the right thing).

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And the next one cast off is a Sock Jumper (cast on many months ago, I have to admit).  Again my own design (though “design” may be a bit too flattering a word – it’s just a short-sleeved jumper with slightly puffed sleeves).  Knitted in Zwerner Garn Opal sock yarn.  It won’t be the most stylish item in my wardrobe but just thought it was fun. 

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You’ll be very pleased to hear that a good friend, who is a whiz with a camera, has offered to take the photos for any patterns I sell/give away.  So at least knitters will have more than just a vague idea of what the  item should actually look like. 

I still have a shawl on the needles but it’s something that just isn’t working for me.  Very simple lace edging but I think I’ve gone wrong on every row so I’ve very patiently frogged it back about 20 rows and am determined to get it completed before I go away.  I have close to 300 stitches on the needles so when it goes wrong, it really GOES WRONG.  But I’ve promised myself that it will be finished and shown to the world before I fly off in October. 

In the meantime, what about the Easter Show?  Planning has to start NOW and I have a few ideas but they’re just that at the moment.  I’m hoping to turn ideas into reality while in England.

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“I Don’t Want Realism . . . I Want Magic”

3 September 2009

Unfortunately, that’s not what I got.

On Tuesday night, we went to the first preview of Streetcar Named Desire at the Sydney Theatre Company.  With Cate Blanchett playing Blanche and Liv Ullman directing, this is the “must see” performance of 2009.  It’s been sold out for months. 

Cate is, in my opinion, the best actress of her generation.  And her performance was extraordinarily good.  Joel Edgerton, as Stanley, was excellent.  The rest of the cast can only be described as lacklustre.  Which makes the performances of Cate and Joel even more impressive . . . they had an uphill battle from the moment they stepped on stage.

First problem – extremely difficult to hear what people were saying but I suppose that can only be blamed on the acoustics.  I wouldn’t want to be the one to criticise their projection skils! 

Second problem – accents.  If performances are great, actors only need to hint at an accent to convince the audience.  The performance of the actress who played Stella (Robin McLeavy) can only be described as ordinary and her accent bugged me from the minute she opened her mouth.  It bore no resemblance to Blanche’s, her sister, and wandered into Irish a couple of times.  A bit-part player sounded as though they’d just picked him up from the streets of Sydney. 

Third problem – set.  I’m often struck by the wonderful inventiveness that goes into creating sets on stage.  The way these people deal with the problems of inside and outside scenes etc.  This one was created in rather a messy fashion with the cast weaving in and out of a staircase to get into the house. 

Fourth problem (and the most important) – energy, or rather lack of it.  I did wonder if I was the only person who found it a bit boring but then I noticed that the couple in front of me were nearly asleep and the theatre became quite noisy with the audience constantly moving around in their seats.  The applause at the end was generous but there was no buzz of excitement as we left the theatre. 

I love the theatre and was really expecting this to be one of those magical events.  But I’ve seen much better performances in theatres both here and in London.  Plays where I don’t move a muscle as I’m so entranced with what’s going on on stage.  Plays that stick in my mind for days afterwards.  Plays that I’ve seen two or three times – I went 3 times in London to see Amadeus for instance (with Frank Finlay) and twice to see Whose Life Is It Anyway?  (with Tom Conte).  I hate to be so harsh but this was not one of those events.

Last night, at the second performance, Cate was hit in the head by a radio that Joel threw across the stage.  At the performance we attended, it shot out of the window.  Last night it apparently knocked her to the ground and the performance had to be cancelled.  I hope she’s recovered today and will be back on stage tonight. 

I’d really like to hear that as the performances continue, they improve.  Do let me know if you see it and what YOU thought.