We Are All Made of Stars

I dreamt there was a woman standing in the corner of my bedroom. There were other anonymous people crowded in there, all quietly encouraging my husband to shoot her. I stood nearby and as he aimed the gun I held my hands up  too, clasping them into an imaginary pistol. I squeezed my left eye shut and aimed over the length of my fingertips. Like a child playing, I said: pow. And he shot. And she crumpled to the floor; a pile of nothingness in the corner. I got into bed and went to sleep with my husband’s arms wrapped around me, a dead woman curled up on the floor next to me.

This is the type of dream I have when there’s a lot going on in my life. When I’m feeling flaky, when I’m tired, when I’m worried. It was just a dream, but the mornings following a dream like this are always tainted with eeriness, with the shadow of imagined violence that swept through my mind like a passing ghost in the night.

Nevertheless, the sun shone today (so warmly) and I brushed the girls’ hair and did their plaits and wiped down the bench and went to work and sent emails and ate my lunch. I patted the dog and ate a biscuit (two). The world continues to turn despite my melancholic night life.

This moving house business is so much more than I ever thought it would be. I’m finding it reminiscent of having a baby; no one can ever tell you how tired or amazed or in love or overwhelmed you will be, you have to figure it out for yourself when the time comes (mind you, selling your house is a little heavy on the ‘tired’ and ‘overwhelmed’ as opposed to the ‘in love’ and ‘amazed’ bit that a baby brings). My sister went through this process earlier this year and while I knew she was busy, I had no real concept of the work involved in preparing a house for sale (when you have three children) (when you’ve lived there for ten years) (when you probably could have cleaned (the oven) a bit more than you did).

I’ve been working my way through each room, and backwards and around. Packing things, sorting things, rehoming things. A little while ago I started to notice I had a lot of wool deposited around the house. In a basket here, on a shelf there. Before I knew it I had a (very) large bag full of balls of wool. As in, one of those (very) large tartan storage bags with the zip at the top. You know the ones? The balls of wool are of all sizes, many not big enough to make a full pixie hat or kotori cardi or other garment out of. I have many plans to make some block coloured kotoris, however now is not the time (my mother-in-law keeps reminding me that it is, indeed, not the time for new projects, thanks Net xx). All these small balls of wool + my night time escapades + my annoyance at waste got me thinking. I have wanted to make a blanket for a long time. Just a small one.

So each night, I stitch. Sometimes just a row or two, sometimes three or more. Sometimes slowly and with many pauses, sometimes frantically and determined. As my hands move, my thoughts fall softly around me. I’m lost in a quiet calmness, my mind tethered carefully with the gentle concentration required of the task. I’m still going to sleep fairly late, later than I would like (later than KB). But this new routine is a nice one, amongst the boxes, the physical work and the nostalgia that most days bring. The stitch is a simple one: dc / tr, alternating (thanks to Helen for the pattern and the inspiration). I had been dreaming of making some beautiful neutral coloured blankets, but funnily enough this one is a good representation of my mind and our life at the moment: very colourful and a bit messy. I’ll name the blanket Moving House.

I read something the other day that suggested nostalgia is a wasted emotion, that it results in nothing positive. I like to think, however, that nostalgia is not just for the fragile-hearted, rather, it is part of a process of remembering and subsequently letting go. That moving through memories and feelings of goodwill about this house will leave me more prepared to move on when the time comes. One can live in hope about such matters.

I revisited this album this week on my trips to and from work and once again fell in love with the lyrics, because I absolutely love the notion (scientific theory?) that we are all made of stars. It adds a little sparkle to the day, don’t you think?

And on that note, off we go. Another week, a bit of razzle-dazzle and we’re one step closer to… wherever we are going.

Craft As Medicine

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I went to visit my Gran today. She taught me how to knit… again. She taught me years ago and I did knit a few things (read: anything you can make based on a knit/purl square or rectangle, so… a scarf and a headband and a pair of fingerless gloves I think are the three things I can add to my knitting CV…ha!). A while back I thought to myself, damnit I’ve knitted before and I will bloody knit again. I watched a video on youtube, attempted a cast on, ended up in a pile of loosely tangled wool and two sticks. I threw the whole thing to the other side of the room in a tantrum and admitted to myself that that day was not going to be the day I reinvented myself as Lucy Who Knits.

Today was much better, I practised casting on with my Gran who, very patiently, let me do it over and over again in front of her for about ten minutes while she nodded and said Yes Dear when I exclaimed loudly that I could do it I could do it I could do it! Meanwhile she was knitting a square – she told me she had tried to convince the other ladies in her retirement village to all knit a square in order to make a communal blanket which they could then raffle off (to raise funds for what, I didn’t ask). She said no one was into her idea so if no one was keen by the time she finished her singular square she would give it to me to use as a face washer instead. Last time she knitted squares she and some friends yarn bombed the local library.

So this week I am determined to knit a square, I’m seeing her again in a couple of weeks and promised I would come back with something to show for her efforts with me today!

In other crafty news I’ve been making a fair few things lately. Craft is so infinitely good for my soul and every time I pick up my crochet hook or material or sewing machine (not that I pick it up, as such, but we all hear my meaning yes? Too late and too tired to delete that sentence and try again) I get into the zone. You know, the craft zone? Craft is the only thing that stops me from thinking, stressing, over analysing things. Keeping my hands busy with making is my medicine, it saves me in those moments when my head is going to burst with overwhelm, when my to-to list is off the planet or just at any time really. I cannot believe that I nearly failed Year 8 Textiles because I was too busy writing on my pencil case in whiteout and staring at pictures of Jimi Hendrix. I didn’t click with my teacher and after a bad experience with a patchwork cushion I didn’t even attempt anything remotely close to making something again until I had a baby. All those years wasted!

I digress. It’s so late and I’m ridiculously sleep deprived but now I’m here you’ll have to put up with me! Righto. Where was I? Oh yes, in the first picture above you can see a kimono I made last week. I haven’t finished any of the seams or anything like that; given it was for me I gave myself a break. Plus I wanted to wear it pronto so I used every short cut I could. Not many were needed though as this is SUCH a simple project. Google DIY kimono and you’ll find heaps of different tutorials showing you how to make it. Easy peasy!

The next picture shows a cardigan I just finished crocheting for the bebe, the pattern is this sweet yoke baby cardigan which is fairly simple to whip up as well. I’m thinking of making a few more of these for winter and for a few friends, they would make a very sweet little present. The wool I used was 8 ply but it was rather on the thin side so the 6-12mo size I have made is almost too small. I made one with a thicker 8ply when Pixie was a baby and it ended up being too thick, so I’ll have to test it again on the 12mo size and see how it comes up. It’s very cute though and I honestly can’t get enough of the veggie buttons. So glad I finally found something to use them on as I’ve been carrying them around for a while now.

Next on the make list:

+ knit a square

+ finish blanket before 2020

+ more sweet yoke cardis

+ a few skirts for upcoming kid birthdays

And with that, goodnight to you all, and to all, a good night.

wardrobe chit chat

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Heading into winter it is becoming glaringly obvious that I have two girls who are very quickly growing out of their wardrobes! Coinciding with this realisation I’ve been inspired by all the #memademay tags I’ve been seeing on instagram and have been thinking (thinking) about how long it has been since I’ve used my sewing machine. (I’ve been doing a lot of crochet as you’ve probably realised!)

I’ve also started thinking about my post-baby wardrobe. I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I have – stacked away in boxes mostly. Over the past six years of growing babies, breastfeeding, shrinking and growing again I have been everything from a size 10 to a 16. And I have clothes in every one of those sizes. I have worn so many different styles of clothing depending on where I’m at in my motherhood gig – breastfeeding, on the floor playing, running in and out to kinder drop offs, returning to work, spending time outdoors and so on. I’m reluctant to start cleaning out now while I’m heading towards the end of this pregnancy (always a dangerous thing as my pregnant self is an obsessed thrower-outerer, whereas my non-pregnant self is an obsessed hanger-onerer…), but it has got me thinking about how to consciously build a new post-baby wardrobe around all the things I have come to value: good quality, ethical produced, handmade, and suitable for life with three (Did I say THREE!) small kids.

I just read this post (thank you!) and have become seriously inspired to think more about what I am hanging up in my wardrobe, and how to go about getting from A to B. At the moment I am in that place where I just make and/or buy things based on a whim, without any real thought as to whether it is something I need or something that would be valuable over the long term, or whether it fits in with any of my other clothes (let alone my values). I also wear things out of necessity, rather than wearing things based on a style I actually like or think suits me. I have no idea what my style really is underneath all these maternity garments.

Over the coming months as my body slowly works its way back into it’s (new) normal state I am going to expand on these ideas. I wonder where it will take me! Join me on pinterest if you like, I figure that is as good a place as any to start brainstorming.

craft as meditation

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In most other tasks I am easy to distract. My mind is a wandering beast, untamed and largely unmanageable.

But absorbed in craft, it softens. It counts: slowly, rhythmically, soothingly. It imagines and creates, it thrills in possibility.

I began meditating (again) a few weeks ago, and while I haven’t been in any way regular, I have noticed correlations between my quiet meditative mind, and my crafting mind. While during meditation I attempt to harness my mind as it pulls and strains at invisible reigns, during craft it is forced to halt. It is absorbed by the act of quiet concentration.

And so in the last ten days since finishing work (!), and while attempting to distract my monster mind from the relentless (and seemingly impossible) task of flipping my baby before this coming Tuesday’s ECV, I have immersed myself in craft.

Stitch by stitch by little stitch I have soothed my mind and spirit. I have counted, stitch by stitch by little stitch. I have twisted my hook around wool, stitch by stitch by little stitch. In combination with all the other body and mind work I am doing this pregnancy, it has kept me in good stead.

And here I am, four beanies, pom poms, a pixie bonnet, a kotori jacket and half a lady sized beanie later, mind relatively at ease. Upcoming ECV on Tuesday not causing (much) [out of proportion] angst.

What about you? What do you reach for to calm a busy mind?

oh to make

Screenshot 2014-08-14 13.26.20With all the craziness of starting a new job, finding our feet, and creating a new rhythm in our lives, to be able to continue with some making here and there truly is a blessing. The ability to be able to move my hands this way and that, twist the wool and feel it sliding through my fingers. Oh! Immediate stress buster. Therapy at its best. 

crocheted lop-sided rainbow leg warmers

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I made these for Birdie the other week for the Winter Solstice. It was freezing that day and we had to rug up! What better excuse to make a pair of rainbow leg warmers? My intention was to come on here and write my very first extra fancy tutorial on how to make them, because I’m surely sure that as soon as you saw the pictures of these babies your arms jumped on your wool basket and you flung yourself back to the screen with your crochet hook in one hand and ten balls of bright coloured wool in the other screaming TELL ME HOW TO MAKE THEM RIGHT NOW.

But then I opened up the screen and realised about two weeks has gone by since I made them and I can’t actually remember what I did. I do remember that they are both different sizes and one is about double the width of the other but if I’m writing a proper tutorial then I’m not meant to tell you that.

And then I saw that in the photo above there is a stray bit of wool sticking out of one of them and it doesn’t look very professional or fancy.

So. If you’re still with me and you don’t care if one leg warmer is double the size of the other or there are stray bits of wool sticking out of mine because I tied a few bits of wool together and then just cut the ends off instead of stitching them in properly, then you should read the following extra fancy information so you can make your own pair.

Choose as many colours as you want. Decide what order you want the colours in or just make that part up as you go along. I chained 37 or 38 stitches to start but as I chained I just wrapped the chain around Birdie’s leg until I reached my desired width. In the first leg warmer I made a big rectangle and then stitched it together at the end. Don’t do that. Once you’ve got your chain the length/width (gah!) you want, then you just slip stitch it together to form a circle. Then I used treble stitch and did one row of each colour until the leg warmer was long enough. Then to get the extra fancy shell stitch at the bottom (or top, whatever you want) — I’m pausing now trying really hard to remember how I did this — Ok, try this: 2dc, 1htc, then in the fourth stitch: 5 x tc, 1htc, 2 dc – repeat. Does that make any sense?

Ok now go and make millions of pairs of lop-sided leg warmers for your kids and post pictures of them on instagram or on your blogs and tag me (@motherwho) so I can see! Yay for lop-sided rainbow legwarmers!

to market, to market to buy a…

Pixie hat?

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I took a few things to the Kongwak Market on Easter Sunday. I didn’t think it would take me so long to prepare, but it seems that nothing is very consistent around here, so I worked very hard in the week leading up to ensure I’d have enough to fill the table. I don’t think I will be going back to market to market any time soon, without the help of performance enhancing drugs (uh, joking).

What didn’t get sold at the market is now available in my etsy store. Feel free to have a squiz.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

a case of the jitters

Oh Lordy Lord. Maybe it’s because I have drunk a whole pot of [black] coffee just now (remind me not to do that again). Maybe it’s the moon or the season. All I know is I have been SUPER jittery today. I even forgot to have lunch which is absurd considering I spend a ridiculous amount of time either thinking about or preparing food.

Should I clean? Should I crochet? Should I cut up felted wool?

Should I bath kids? Should I cook? Should I play Snow White and the Hunstman?

Should I laugh? Should I dance? Should I invite someone over?

So… I cleaned a table, crocheted eight stitches, folded some washing, danced in the paddling pool, dipped the Pixie’s feet in the paddling pool, read three sentences about introducing food, cut up some felted wool, read two little girls a book, laughed, pretended to be the Wicked Witch, Cinderella, the Hunstman, Snow White and a teacher, fed some imaginary bears some honey, made some left over rolled oat pudding (not to be underestimated!), rocked a doll to sleep, put the Pixie to sleep, served dinner, got the Pixie up again, bathed the girls, wiped up dinner, kissed my husband, handed over a grumpy Pixie and sat down here. Then I got up again and put some rice on for Dinner Round Two. Then I sat down again.

Yikes. I can’t keep up with myself.

This is exactly why I need this, to get my daily rhythm back in control. I can’t wait to get started!

Will I be able to sleep tonight?

Do you have days like this?

this morning

This morning I have…

:: showered

:: breastfed

:: expressed

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:: rattled a toy in my left hand and tried to sneak the bottle into the pixie’s mouth with my right hand. My trick failed dismally.

:: eaten cold toast

:: eaten cold eggs

:: picked things up off the floor

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:: dressed a fairy

:: had my temperature taken with a crochet hook by said fairy (thankfully, I am fine.)

:: watched play school

:: crocheted a row of the happy blankie

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:: cuddled a crying baby

:: cuddled a crying toddler

:: cuddled a crying baby and a crying toddler at the same time

:: put the baby to bed

:: shed a few tears myself when the fairy was dancing and fell into me while I was taking a photo and my camera hit me in the face

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:: fit into my pre-baby cargo pants

:: danced a happy dance around the bedroom in my pre-baby cargo pants

:: put some soy burgers in the fridge to defrost for dinner

:: re-heated and sipped some hot coffee

What are you all doing today?

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on the hook

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My hands have been oh-so-busy-busy over the holidays. They have been hooking and flicking and pulling and winding. There is nothing better than craft to quiet my busy mind.

And let me tell you: I have a busy mind.

It is always tick-ticking and speeding and jumping and racing. It plots and it schemes. It’s usually up to mischief of a grand scale and it often doesn’t let me sleep. If it were a car I would be off the road and most likely in jail, for surely sure.

So I make. I hook and sew and cut. I’d like to draw, but I don’t do that. Scribble sometimes, but I can never quite translate the picture in my mind onto paper, without using words. I’d like to knit too, but haven’t managed more than half a scarf. That might be on the list for 2014.

This is what I’ve been making lately. Fun-make, not serious-make. Serious-make is planned and purposeful. Serious-make is fun but scheduled and probably for me to sell or to give. Fun-make is just going at it and having a little plan but not caring if the wool runs out or you skip a stitch or if the colours don’t really match. I do have an idea of where this is going, but I am going to keep it to myself for now.

I’ve dragged up all the odd balls of wool that I had sitting around the house. A few were in a jumble, so I talked my mother-in-law into re-balling them for me while I made her a cup of tea and hooky-hooked [I’m sure there is a more official word than re-balling but I think you’ll understand what I mean].

Here I’m going to tell you a secret. It’s the secret to finding time for crochet. Are you excited? Here goes… you put it all in a bag, with your hook, your scissors and a little crochet help book in case you get stuck. Then, you take that bag with you everywhere you go. It’s simply amazing how fast it begins to happen then! A hook here and a snip there, a few trebles and there you have it. Simple as that.

Don’t you love the feeling at the start of a new year, the feeling of your head brimming with ideas of what you are going to make/cook/do this year?