Sunday, January 31, 2010

Miss Yellow, in the train carriage, with a good book

lace gloves
Last week we took a trip on an old train to nearby town Bungendore, run by the Australian Railway Historical Society. Unfortunately they can't run the steam engines during a total fire ban (most/all of summer), so it was pulled by a slightly less romantic diesel engine. Still, it was a lovely trip.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Leave me just enough love to fill up my hand

T 4 2
I visited my sister this afternoon in her new little place for a lovely cup of tea. I also took the opportunity to get some photos of the hand towel I made for her for Christmas.
towel 2
It's that Cleckheaton Fiddle Dee Dee again and I used the best part of three balls. In spite of my personal aversion to pastels, I had a feeling she would like the colour, and she did - I would have dyed it if she didn't. The second ball I used was very unevenly spun, and the unevenness definitely shows in the middle - though she said she didn't notice. I wish I had taken a little more time (which of course didn't exist before Christmas) and unravelled that part once I realised that that ball wasn't getting any better. I just kept thinking either it would get better, or the next one would be just the same, so I kept ploughing on to finish it.

I chose a the 'steps' stitch pattern from an old Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and added a simple garter stitch border. So far it seems to be holding up well and she says it's really nice to use. The original plan was for a face washer to go with it. Due to the laws of physics (specifically, those relating to the passage of time) I had to drop that plan, but my happy op-shop find of a gorgeous box of vintage embroidery threads made up the rest of her present instead.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

after the storm rolls by

banana and carrot_2

As well as the face washers, the little kids also received this felted banana and carrot. Simple shapes I could improvise close to Christmas, without extensive trial and error.
banana and carrot
The shape of the banana is a little odd, not the perfect stereotyped banana shape, because I started some odd ineffective shaping before I realised that short rows were what was needed.

Below is the carrot pre-felting.
carrot before felting

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two little dogs who could do with baths and haircuts

2 dogs
both thank you sincerely for your concern and best wishes.

Elvis is feeling quite well thank you very much!
Although he would really rather not wear the bucket. (We do take it off when we can keep an eye on him.)
bucket boy

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Say it ain't so, I will not go, turn the lights off, carry me home

The past week or so has been filled with more than the usual amount of angst. Last Friday I was walking both dogs in the morning, and we got attacked by a pair of bigger dogs which got out of their yard. Elvis and Mia are small terriers and Elvis is the smaller of the two. One of the escaped dogs raced up to Elvis and immediately grabbed him in her jaws and shook him in the air. It was one of the most traumatic situations I've ever been in.

I've always worried this could happen. Sometimes Elvis seems not to know how small he is and he occasionally he will growl or snap at a bigger dog (we definitely discourage this and pull him away). I really hate it when someone shouts out "don't worry, he's harmless!" as their large dog bounds towards you, miles ahead of them. Sure, he might be generally harmless but who knows what he'll do if a little white piece of fluff decides to snap and growl at him.

But, as it turned out, Elvis (and I) didn't have time to even know what was happening - there was no prelude at all, she just ran up and grabbed him. Meanwhile her companion chased Mia - at some point, probably while picking up the wounded shrieking Elvis, I lost her lead. There were some people around who wanted to help, and eventually the owners of the escaped dogs came and controlled them, including the one that had chased Mia. I couldn't really stop and talk, I just had to walk home straight away and try to find Mia. I was terrified that if I couldn't find her quickly, I might have to delay getting Elvis to the vet. I was massively relieved to find her unhurt on our doorstep, shaking and desperate to get inside. A very kind friend who lives nearby had heard the commotion and come to help look for Mia, and she drove us to the vet in my car. She normally drives an automatic, and we laughed about how this was that 'emergency situation' where it's good to be able to drive a manual. She did fine.

Elvis was very lucky really, he has some wounds on both sides of his body which required stitches, but no major internal damage. I've been feeling really strange about it because I failed to protect my dogs (even though I know there wasn't really anything I could do) and I can't properly remember all details of the incident. I don't remember the dog dropping Elvis, but she must have. I know I picked up Elvis and then she started jumping up at us, wanting to get him again. As well as Elvis, I felt so sad for Mia having to run home by herself, feeling abandoned and terrified.

I have since gone back to talk to one of the owners, who was very sympathetic, and also shocked when I told her what her dog did, and how it was unprovoked, as they didn't see the whole incident. She offered to pay the vet bills and I was glad not to have to ask. I might not have. They are expecting a baby soon and might not be able to keep the dogs. In spite of everything, I do find that sad, as they've had the dogs since they were puppies, and they are now 11 and 9. Some may be wondering the breed - they are a border collie cross - nothing too scary but, I think, an energetic breed that love to chase. Any dog can be violent - you should never leave any dog unattended with small children - but an incident like this (and I didn't ask if there had been others) surely increases the risk.

Elvis had a few very sad, slow moving days but is now feeling more like himself. Unfortunately he's had to have more work done on his wounds, so he'll be wearing a bucket on his head for a while. Undignified. But he should make a full recovery. It could have been worse.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's nice to have options

Christmas brooches

One friend particularly admired that first brooch, and even went so far as to say she thought she would wear one like it. I took her at her word and made one for Christmas. Which quickly turned into two, as I wasn't sure if she would prefer one almost exactly the same, or a variation.

After making my first brooch, I aquired some more of the waxed cotton. The one on the left is dark blue rather than black. I went back to Mooble for two more buttons by Bird Textile. I have plans to take this idea further into other items of jewellery / embellishment. So many plans, so little time! I'll get there.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gimme a 'B'! and an 'N' and an 'E'!

B washer

One of my Christmas gifts for my nephews and niece were these face washers, using patterns by Rhonda K White.

It was satisfying to not spend too much money (actually it's a rule in our family). The purple is Cleckheaton Fiddle Dee Dee which I've had for ages. I bought it, for no good reason but cheap of course, not long after making my first socks in the same stuff. I didn't even like the purple colour much - I'm not really into pastels!.
E washer
I was planning to make the other two in the purple as well, and looking into child-safe ways to dye them other, bolder colours after knitting. Then, not long before Christmas, I had an epic op-shopping Saturday (gorgeous silk Jigsaw top for a few dollars! vintage embroidery thread in a lovely box, which went to my sister for Christmas! books and picture frames and can't-remember-what-else, oh my!). I came across several balls of white Cleckheaton 12ply cotton in perfect condition, and was pleased when I ended up paying very little for them. Sometimes odd balls of wool are ridiculously priced in op shops.
N washer
Edited to make more sense: I decided my niece could have purple and I could do white ones for the boys. It was just as well it turned out this way, and I didn't have to go in the dye direction, as I tend to bite off a bit more than I can chew before Christmas (they were all little projects, I swear!)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet

Well. That little supermarket story seems to have hit a nerve and generated some interesting reactions.

I feel mean judging the mother like that, and I know that I might have taken what I saw and heard out of context. Like Amy said, it just might have been an ironic statement, though I didn't hear it that way. And like Karen said - and my sister (who has three small children) reacted similarly - maybe she would have said much the same to a boy who was banging inappropriately or annoyingly on the trolley handle.

I would probably buy this explanation, except that the child wasn't just banging or shouting, she seemed to be gleefully and not that loudly saying 'hammer hammer hammer' which makes me think she was actually acting out hammering specifically and maybe had been watching someone do it recently (or someone playing with a toy hammer). And the mother didn't sound annoyed or irritated, she said what she said quite sweetly to her daughter. Maybe she was annoyed but trying to be a "nice girl" or nice mum.

And that's the thing, even if she wasn't really telling her daughter to be girly and not play at carpentry, it's that phrase "nice girls" that really gives me a chill. I hope that was ironic. It's the sort of script that can replay in your head all your life.

Julie alluded to the risks of being brought up to be a nice girl. I've seen this idea in feminist and abuse survivor writing, about the stuff that women and girls will put up with, and the strategies they choose (and don't choose) in response to uncomfortable situations, in order to be nice and not make a fuss. It is ingrained deep in us.

On the other hand, to some extent we should all be nice. Human beings should on the whole try to be nice to each other. Why should it be the responsibility of women?

I agree with Dr K sometimes it seems like we have gone backwards. I don't know if this is just the 'jetpack effect' - that you would think that a lot more progress would have been made by now. I think there has also been an increase in religious fundamentalism in many parts of the world ... but that doesn't have a really large mainstream presence in Australia, so I don't know.

I wish gender didn't matter so much. I often find myself wishing I lived on an androgynous planet. (I read a wonderful story by Ursula LeGuin like that once.) I like and respond better to people who relate to me as a person (which of course does not exclude my gender) and not as some kind of representative of my gender.

Friday, January 01, 2010

It's 2010. We're living in the future. So where is my jetpack?

I got a rude shock in the supermarket yesterday. A woman pushed her trolley past me. Her little toddler was sitting in the child seat, happily chanting 'hammer! hammer! hammer!' and bouncing her hand up and down.

And the woman said to her daughter:

"No no, you're a nice girl, nice girls don't hammer!"

Wow. This woman must have been about my age. It's so depressing to see someone unthinkingly blurting out this poisonous muck. Or, I suppose, the alternative is that she is deliberately and consciously reactionary about gender roles - in line with a fundamentalist religion for example. Which would also be depressing.