Tuesday, June 29, 2010

They look like us but they're not like us

*pictures from today's school holiday visit to Scienceworks and not in any way related to wordage.

This is the back-story, the part that I knew had happened. Some time last year, Climber and The Gifted Child apparently laughed at a classmate, not, Climber asserts, in a malicious way, more because the kid had inadvertently amused them; probably by making a mistake. The laughed-at child got very, very angry at them, some would say unreasonably so, and responded by threatening to go online that evening and delete Climber's Club Penguin account. The prospect of this made Climber almost hysterical with anxiety because he'd invested time and efforts into Club Penguin and had virtual pets and assets and points and achievements etc. I still remember how freaked out he was by that child's threat and it took a lot to calm him.


The laughed-at child has been spoiled. His parents' pictures appear in the dictionary next to the phrase Helicopter Parents. They are over-protective, and molly-coddlers, and spoil-the-kid-rotten types. Whatever that child wants, he gets. Whatever that child doesn't want to do, he doesn't have to. I mean, the kid had no choice but to turn out a pain, and of course, that's what he is. I've always avoided the family in the schoolyard where possible. But I saw them more as vaguely ridiculous than as a force of evil.


However. This is the part of the story I just found out, as Climber and I were mooching round together on Sunday while Cherub was off partying with the 7-year-old set. Some little time after the laughed-at child had presumably gone home and told his parents that Climber had been 'mean' to him, it just so happened that Climber got invited by another friend to go to an interactive exhibition at Australian Centre for the Moving Image. And whilst at that exhibition, they ran into the laughed-at child and his father. And that bloody father, seeing that Climber was on his own, without parents, and indeed without at that moment his friend, who had gone to the toilet, took that opportunity to cross the room and say to my then 8-year-old if you are being mean to my son you'd better watch out. And then he walked off. Thereby putting the fear of god into poor Climber. So much so that Climber couldn't even speak about it, probably under some misguided feelings of shame and fear. He bottled that incident for a long time. I think he was quite relieved when he told me, and that my reaction was enormous and furious anger at the bullying father.

Both Fixit and I are very, very angry about this. If that pathetic excuse for a father wanted to sort out his son's schoolroom problems on a parental level, then he should have approached Fixit or me, ie, someone his own size. To approach and threaten an 8 year old child is just appalling behaviour in my book. It makes me want to threaten to set Fixit onto him, just to watch his cowardly face turn pale. Or have a shouty schoolyard confrontation with him in front of as many parents as possible so I can embarrass him on a big scale. Of course, those things always go much better in your head as you rehearse what you would say to the bullying toad at yourself in the mirror or mutter it in the hallway on the way to bed. But it is just possible that this is a confrontation I would win because I have righteous parental anger on my side, despite my usual bad form at confronting people. I guess we will only see when school goes back and I come face to face with the worm in the schoolyard. I have 2 weeks to work out what I should do (advice is welcomed). I will, of course, inform our teacher about it once school goes back, not that I really think the school can do anything about it, but they ought to know.

Meantime, big bad thoughts in his general direction. Low-down evil cowardly bullying stupid scumdog. And that's the polite version.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Soccer Mum.

This weekend is was my turn to play single parent (fair's fair, I've had a few craft camps away) as Fixit jetted off to Brisbane to visit the recently relocated Bike Nazi, his pain-in-the-arse friend. All weekend, as I froze my backside off in the cold Melbourne gloom, Fixit sent excited texts : it's 22 degrees! and I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt! Good on you, hon, thanks for sharing.

Meanwhile, the boys and I were very excited because for the first time ever I got to watch them play soccer. Usually I can't be there because I'm teaching tap at exactly the same time, but this term tap finished at 10 weeks and soccer ran for eleven.

The weather forecast mentioned hail, so it was a bit of a relief to only have biting cold and a bit of rain, really. I was well rugged up, operating on the human-snake principle that it's better to be overdressed than under-dressed if you're stranded out of range of a direct heat source.


I thought (of course I did) that both the boys were very good. They're doing what's known as the Small-Sided Games program for 5-9 year olds, where they play on teeny pitches and learn ball skills in a fun environment. One of the great things our club introduced this year was bringing in kids from the proper teams (the Under 14s it looked like) to be coaches, with an adult helper as well. I reckon it's great. It gives the older kids coaching and directing skills, plus responsibility, and the one I observed with Cherub's group was fantastic and managed oh-so-kindly to pull Cherub back from the brink of it'snotfairIalwayslose tears. And the younger kids just love being coached by these energetic older kids.

Here's an action sequence of Cherub winning a tackle:

cherub wins the tackle 3638 cherub wins the tackle 3639
cherub wins the tackle 3640 cherub wins the tackle 3641

And here are some shots featuring Action Hair.

DSC_3585 DSC_3588
DSC_3607 DSC_3615

Love the action hair. It was really ace to see the boys play, I was very proud.

As well as soccer, Cherub had 2 parties to go to (they were both awesome, he says) and Climber and I went to the bookshop to spend a generous voucher from my Aunt Carmel who is the patron saint of Climber's zest for reading. We also had to cope without power for a large chunk of Sunday due to a scheduled outage for street repairs (no internets and no heating in the middle of winter, blah!)

Then on Sunday night we went to the airport to pick up Fixit.

here he is 1159

Of course we missed him, but not because we needed an extra pair of hands, if you know what I mean. The kids were excellent and easy to look after on my own: I think this has a lot to do with their age, because if Fixit went off for a weekend when they were younger I'd be wiped out when he returned. But this time was easy, and we all had a good time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rosso Arancione Giallo Verde

This skirt was the precursor, the practice run. The Fat-quarter Quarter Skirt. I used the excellent Sew What! Skirts book, where you learn to draft a pattern for any skirt you can think of based on your own measurements. This model is the basic A-line with zip. Somehow despite my drafting, it is too big; see how far below my actual waist it sits? I think I don't need to allow nearly as much "ease".

quarter skirt3411

Sadly I made a right hash of the waistband and zip. It was late on Friday night when I tried it and I broke 2 needles on the machine, a sure sign I needed to stop what I was doing and walk away but I was so close to finishing. It's almost wearable. You know, with a long top. And maybe I'll pull out the waistband and try again, although seeing as I used a fancy leaf stitch from the new machine which would be a cow to unpick, there's a good chance I'll never bother.

Quarter Skirt 3419

But anyway, at this stage the I-want-to-make-a-funky-skirt Bug had well and truly bit and Fixit remarked, more than once, on my new obsession. Within 24 hours of completing the Fat-quarter Quarter Skirt project, (time spent sleeping and teaching kiddies to tap) I took up the Rainbow Skirt Project, using mostly fat quarters given to me by the lovely Jan of Sewjourn as part of Trash's Rainbow Swap, and if you think I've been quiet this week, here's why: tonight, she is finis.

roygbiv skirt3519

I made Fixit double-check the maths for computing 7 equal-ish pattern strips and then I cut and sewed with a lot of care. I ironed and pinned and did practice swatches every step of the way, which is very anti my natural tendencies. When I hemmed the skirt, I changed cotton for each different coloured panel. I did! And I didn't even mind the extra work.

roygbiv skirt3515

I tried the skirt on after putting in the zip and found it was too big so I carefully unpicked 2 panels and made them thinner.

roygbiv skirt3502

I've pulled off the best zip of my short career, (which is not saying much), including sewing up the zip each side in different coloured cotton. I don't think I've quite got the hang of the closing bit on top of the zip, but I think you'd only see that if you took a big close-up of it. Like this.

roygbiv skirt3525

The bias waistband with the pretty loveheart detail was sewed at snail's pace to avoid snarls and general wonkiness (not altogether avoided but mostly good)

roygbiv skirt 3533

And now it's finished, and it fits, and it's quite well-sewn by my standards and there's only one thing left to say really...

.... Ta-da!!!

roygbiv skirt3506

Monday, June 21, 2010

Circumstantial Evidence

I've been sewing all week and weekend. I've got things to show. But in the meantime, I just want to reassure everyone that although Basil is a terrible pest when I am trying to craft (biting through my knitting wool, trying to fight the sewing machine, sitting on my fabric as soon as I lay it out) I am at all times treating our kitten well.

I did not throw him in the bin.

Basil in the bin 3404

And contrary to how this appears, I have not ironed him.

Flat Cat_3462

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Crarf Camp.

Crarf Camp Mosaic
1. craft camp jun 10 022, 2. craft camp jun 10 002, 3. craft camp jun 10 003, 4. craft camp jun 10 015, 5. craft camp jun 10 001, 6. craft camp jun 10 026, 7. craft camp jun 10 028, 8. craft camp jun 10 044, 9. craft camp jun 10 034, 10. craft camp jun 10 024, 11. craft camp jun 10 035, 12. craft camp jun 10 041, 13. craft camp jun 10 021

I had a superb time on Craft Camp at the magnificent Sewjourn this Queen's Birthday Long Weekend. I made some garments that I'm very happy with, ate a lot of scrumptious food, had a fab massage followed by a restorative bath, and enjoyed the company of wonderful women. But I think I should tell you that appearances are deceiving. They may look like they are beautiful and talented and nurturing and funny (and they are!) but the conversations they have when they go away for a lovely spot of sewing would make a sailor blush. I'm not joking.

Here's what I made. I really wanted an empire line dress but the only pattern I could find was for stretch material, so there was modifying to be done, because I really wanted to use the gorgeous fabric that my Mum had de-stashisfied to my benefit. Luckily I was surrounded by clever seamstresses who helped me adapt, and so I give you The Purple Dress with Empire Line and Pleats...

craft camp jun 10 034

This is me wearing it today.

craft camp jun 10 104

My friend, who works in fashion, took one look at me and said enthusiastically oh is that what you made at Craft Camp? which was mildly dashing, but I love it anyway, even if it rather obviously hand-sewn.

I also made a little skirt, which is more than a bit wonky but I'll definitely wear it because I am more than a bit wonky myself ...

craft camp jun 10 044

I decided to use one of the fancy stitches on my lovely new machine (which was completely delightful to sew with) so check my fancy hem. It's leaves, but the other girls suggested they looked rather like little pairs of tap-shoes dancing round my hem.

craft camp jun 10 047

The family survived just fine without me, except that Cherub needed to ring me on Sunday night because he was missing me so badly. Which resulted in a rather lovely homecoming; after the rapturous hugs there was a little quest with clues for me to find the card he'd made.

i was mist

(Lisa, Suse and I all came home to tired menfolk who had risen at 4.30am on Monday morning to witness the Socceroos get mauled by Germany. Cherub could hardly lift his head by dinnertime.)

A big thank you to all the chicks who made the weekend so ace. Sue, who makes the BEST trousers, you should see the pinstripe ones. Kate C, who never got cold because she was hand-quilting a fantastically lovely queen-sized quilt that lay over her lap for most of the time, Kate M the crossover queen, swapping from knits to skirt-making with aplomb (she churned out 2 skirts both of which were funky and functional), who is young and maybe should not have been so exposed to all the terrible tales we told her about childbirth. My dear friend Jenny, who made wonderful things for her Fete Craft Stall including a really good tea-cosy that she somehow rescued from Georgia O'Keefe-ness, and who helped everyone -but especially me- so generously. Lisa who kept saying she wouldn't finish the friend's quilt and then proceeded to whip it up like a dervish. A dervish who was bad at maths (why have I got one extra in this row? Now this row is one less? Maths is the devils work etc). And who berated one of her sons over the phone for cruelty to animals and then within 10 minutes suggested that the best way to kill a chicken was to run it over with a lawn-mower. Janet who was doing an amazing job of clearing her backlog of sewing projects, churning out good thing after good thing whilst all the time thinking wistfully of new projects (but now she has a clear conscience!) Suse who whipped up a skirt, then embarked on a very nice green floral quilt of which we'll all have a bit of ownership because we made suggestions about which strip went where, in between running her now-famous and very clear and helpful Zip Tutorial, Magda who also quilted, seemingly by just creatively throwing some gorgeous fabric together but there must be more to it than that surely because the quilt she made (for the exciting bump in her tummy) was quite wonderful. They really are great fun, these girls. They're all very funny, and creative, and good at cooking, all very easy to be with, and all entertaining whilst at the same time being appreciative when someone else was being entertaining. Big thanks once again to Suse and Janet for inviting me. I had a great time again, and am feeling more than a little sad that this is my last Craft Camp for the year.

Friday, June 11, 2010


This morning we went back and searched near the Tap Hall, and found the empty stolen bag in a playground. Fifteen metres away I also found the 3 balls of wool, the cotton reel, the bobbin, the 4 spare knitting needles, the completed washcloth and the jotted notes I'd used to make it, the photo of Climber at the pool and the birthday cards from Jen and Astrid, although those last two were soggy. The nice pair of purple floral dressmaking scissors, still in the packet which had been my birthday present, were gone. But I was really really glad to get the other stuff back. Thank goodness the hoodlums were too disaffected to put it in the bin.

The car window is costing us $400 to repair, and our insurance excess is $500. [insert sad face emoticon]

Cherub is recovered although he and Climber still have a few poxy scabs. Meanwhile the pinetarsol baths we've used for the pox have done good things for the molluscum-related eczema behind Cherub's knee and in his elbow.

Cherub timed his chicken pox outbreak much better than Climber - Climber broke out on Friday night so he buggered up his weekend and only got one day off school whereas Cherub threw spots on Sunday night, so he got 3 days off school, then had one day of catching up with his friends before a curriculum day today and a long weekend.

I'm off to Craft Camp at Sewjourn this weekend and plan to give the new sewing machine a good work-out. Meantime, I've left the big box behind for the amusement of the family. Cherub is having so much fun with it. If he's not using it to stylishly display my swag of birthday presents, he's dragging it round the house to be incorporated into whatever game he's playing at the time. Basil, being a cat, is also very keen to get into the box and the two of them are spending a lot of hilarious time playing Kitty Surprise Attack From The Box together.

Presents in a box 3229DSC_3224DSC_3270

Mostly though, Cherub's been stuffing himself into the box, so it can be his Tardis. He's getting quite good at the grinding dematerialisation noise.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Glass all over the back seat

As I was teaching tap tonight I saw three youths in hoodies hanging around on the street outside the Tap Hall. They were making some noises which I put down to exuberance but actually they were breaking into my car.


They went through my glove box and ashtray (they would not have found anything there) before making off with my knitting bag, which had been left sitting temptingly on the passenger seat. I have to tell you that I am a little bit gobsmacked about having my knitting bag nicked, even when I factor in the idiocy of leaving said bag temptingly on the passenger seat! Surely once they'd looked in the bag and seen it only held wool and needles, they would have left it there? Unless they were some sort of Urban Craft Gang? Because seriously, what would 3 yoofs want with a knitting bag?

The bag was a gorgeous vinyl Harrods bag and I am very sad to lose it because it was ace, and a gift from a friend. I'm going back in daylight to search the area in case they realised the insanity of their ways and chucked it. But luckily, the Work-In-Progress, still on the needles, was lying behind the car on the road. There was wool all through the car, so I think the knitting saved itself by artfully twining itself around something in the front seat, which jerked the needles out of the bag as the bad hoodlums ran off. Yay for craft-thief-foiling-knitting! Either that, or the hoodlums didn't like the wonky edges or the bit where I knitted when I should have purled (Astrid calls it my Amish touch.) Whatever the reason, thank goodness they left it behind. If I'd lost all that chevron knitting I would have cried like a baby.

chevron clutch 3274

Sunday, June 06, 2010


birthday 3241

Guess what? I had a super nice birthday today! And also, now Cherub's got chicken pox! We found the spots on him tonight in the bath.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


I'm having one of those weeks where I think I have too many things to record. So forgive this little hotpotch as I present A Week (or so) Of News At Our House.

I've been profiled by Arts Hub. Lookit.

The Cherub is a very focussed child. He knows what he wants, what he really, really wants. The item that he weally, weally wanted (directly after he really, really wanted the stupid football card album) was a toilet plunger. Yes, you read that correctly. My 6-year-old has been asking and asking us if he can have his own toilet plunger. So eventually, we gave in and let him spend some of his own money on one.

weird toys 3150

This is not because he dreams of being a plumber, mind. Actually he dreams of being a Dalek. He is already planning his Dress-Up party for his birthday (in OCTOBER!!!) because he plans to be a Dalek for that. I'm yet to find out what else he is expecting to bring that costume into being. Did I mention he is very focussed? Also, I'm not supposed to know this but he is writing to Santa's elves because what he really, really wants for Christmas - and he's pretty sure his parents and grandparents aren't going to be able to manage this one but he reckons the elves will be able to knock one up for him - is an Invisibility Cloak, just like Harry Potter's.

Speaking of which, the Climber recently booked me in for a Bath Chat (that's where he and I have a good old heart-to-heart while he's in the bath and no annoying, nosy little brother around eavesdropping), and he completely blind-sided me by asking, very matter-of-factly and prefacing it with I just want you to tell me truth, whether Santa was real. Apparently 2 of his good friends had been discussing it with him. I had no smart answers, and he is 9 after all, so we discussed the matter frankly. This then led to and the Easter Bunny? Ah that's me. What about the Tooth Fairy? Yep that's me too. [pause] And God?

I think he and I are both a bit sad about this, but you should see him now, being the terrific big brother by Bolstering Belief in Magic Beings for his little brother's benefit, it is quite lovely.

The kids and I did our very first bike ride all the way to school, 5 kms away. I towed Cherub on the way there because I didn't want to be late, but on the way home (uphill) I fortified them with a milkshake first and Cherub rode by himself the whole way. They were so good and did really well. We hope to do it once a week (weather permitting) but we seriously need to work out the luggage because I did the ride home (uphill, did I mention?) with my handbag and some fruit & veg in the basket, Cherub's schoolbag on my back and Climber's schoolbag on my front, and now that I am slightly a bit famous I do not wish to be a packhorse, thank you.

Junior PIctionary 3177
We had a family games night on Saturday, and had what should have been a very good fun game of Junior Pictionary. Particularly given The Cherub's superb appreciation of toilet humour. This is what he looked like because the clue he's just drawn was nut and everyone knows *nuts* are hilarious. (I may have set him off slightly by suggesting that the pipe he'd drawn was in fact something else all together.)
Junior Pictionary 3179
We kept changing the format to accommodate the different skill levels of both children so that it was FUN for everyone, and not highly competitive, (winning came down to dice-throwing in the end, not drawing or guessing skills) but I have to tell you that the Climber is a terrible loser, in a get sad, try not to cry and the game is ruined sort of way, and if anyone knows what you're supposed to do to make a kid a better loser can they tell me please because I haven't a clue and it's driving me crazy.

I am this close to telling Fixit to get himself a car because I am O-V-A-H the continuing saga of the motorbikes. To recap for those of you not living it, he had the ball-shaking bike accident and that meant his nice new good bike was written off and he only got $300 back for it after finance was paid off, so then we had to dip into meagre savings to buy Nell's Ex's old bike for cheap, but it's been sitting in Nell's garage for 2 years and it's not running so well, which meant that Fixit has been disappearing mentally and physically from the family circle while he tries to sort this out. Then he admitted defeat and sent it off to a shop to be professionally examined. Meanwhile a kind friend generously loaned his motorbike to Fixit. Then on Tuesday night some idiot in a car backed into it while Fixit was in at the chiropractor and didn't even notice, so Fixit came outside to find his friend's bike on the ground and some exactly matching paint scrapes on the car in front of it. Fancy knocking a whole motorbike over and not noticing! So even though I was teaching that night I had to put the kids and the camera in the car to come down and document the paint evidence and then he sat there for another 2 hours until a cop showed up and they found the car's owner. So with all that drama going on, I ended up having to bring the kids with me to the Tap Hall, where they sat quietly reading and drawing while I taught class. I think they quite enjoyed it. To cap off an evening of drama, Cherub's third wobbly tooth was hanging by a thread so rather than go through any lost or swallowed tooth agony, I yanked it out before we went home.

toothless at the tap hall 3212

dear tooth fairy3213

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Oh Brother.

I've just received a very special early birthday present...

Oh brother!3185

I found a whizzy sewing machine on special, and put in on lay-by (because my good old second-hand one had started to snarl and seize) and then in a spoil-your-daughter-fatherly-swoop, my Dad went and paid it off for me. Shortest lay-by in history.

It's a Brother NS30. It's so quiet that the kitty felt completely at home with it and nearly got his paw sewn because he was trying to fight the needle.


I picked it up Monday morning and by the afternoon I'd made a little drawstring pouch, you know, just to try it out. It's completely ace. The machine, I mean, the pouch is not bad, but the machine is light, easy to use, quiet, a bit fancy (the boys are very impressed with the stitch range - we're talking 70 stitch choices here including little leaf patterns) and just really good to sew with.


Today being Day 2 of ownership, I found a tutorial on making envelope cushion covers and then created this Yes/No cushion cover using some Aunty Cookie appliques, applied with the Brother's blanket stitch.

Yes/No Cushion3195

Unfortunately I didn't cut enough fabric for the envelope opening at the back (I followed her directions but maybe our cushion inserts are fatter down under), so tomorrow I'm going to try the one-step buttonhole function, mmm-hmm, yes I am.

Yes/No Cushion 3194