Archive for June, 2007

We aimed to get to Kruger National Park as early as possible so that we could spend the day driving to our camp site. Kruger has a number of different entrances, we entered through Phabeni Gate. We had to go and register at the reception centre.

Yes I know my horizon is sloping off into the distance again…and I made use of the world’s grooviest public toilet.

We then got to drive into the park. We’d been discussing what animal we might see first. Gorgeous Man thought some sort of bok (antelope) and I thought zebra. We were both wrong. First animal was

a very cool rock monitor.

We then saw some elephants:

and their babies

and eating, elephants eat a lot!

I don’t want to overload you with pictures, so more in the next post. If you’d like to see pictures from the other side of the car check out Gorgeous Man’s blog which I’m sure he will be updating soon.

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Our Great Trek north is over and we are back safely. If you are here for knitting and quilting content you may want to check back in a week or so since I’m going to talk about Kruger for a bit.

The trip from Cape Town to Kruger is just a little longer than the drive from Brisbane to Melbourne, so getting there was an adventure in itself.

Some highlights of the drive up:

Finding an open bookstore after dinner in Bloemfontein and discovering this book on sale.

See the price reduction? R225 to R79. I am so in love with some of the patterns in here, now to find yarn suitable substitute yarn…I made the comment (tongue firmly in cheek) to Gorgeous Man, that now I needed to find a yarn store (quilting fabric stores are much harder to find and are often run out of someone’s home, so it’s not worth even mentioning them) to make the holiday complete. His feeling was that we would be very lucky to find a yarn store as we weren’t frequenting that sort of area.

After a night in the second worst hotel* we’ve ever stayed in (the mattress was so compressed at the head that it felt like you were sleeping on a down hill slope) we went to a local shopping area to withdraw money. The armoured truck was there busy filling the machine, and after the guard asked me to stand further away from the area as ‘it is dangerous’ (cash heists are quite common here), I went to sit in the car.

Guess what I spotted from my car? Way down at the end of the complex was an Afrikaans word I do know: WOL. Gorgeous Man sighed (only a little) and off we went. There was stash enhancement, but not much.

It will make a cute jumper, or hat.

Other highlights included:

* Stopping so that Gorgeous Man could check out a bird (of the feathered variety) and discovering that there were also meerkats and a bat-eared fox in the same field

* Road signs that warned of hippos crossing

* Road signs that warned of high car-jacking risk area (sorry, we didn’t stop or slow down to get pictures of them)

* Road signs that warned heavy vehicles that if they parked there for the night their tires would be stolen

* Seeing a police car pull over to allow a car travelling at about 150 – 160km per hour pass. I laughed for about 10 minutes over that one. It is a custom here that if a car faster than you comes up behind you you should pull over to the shoulder and let them past. The police had passed us about 5 minutes before, we were going about 130 (speed limit is 120).

In between Bloemfontein and Nelspruit this happened

The first of Gorgeous Man’s socks was grafted. After much trying on and discussion I’ve discovered that the foot is perfect, as is the heel, but the leg is a little baggy. I consulted the Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Rules and I figure I know how to make the calculations to make the next pair absolutely perfect.

We spent the night in Nelspruit at a lovely B&B and then wandered around the botanical gardens. Gorgeous Man went bird hunting and the (second) sock and I communed with nature

Other events on the trip up to Kruger:

We visited Pilgrim’s Rest which was nothing like the websites or the books describe. It was actually a bit sad and depressing. Beware of the guys who wash your car without asking and then expect payment.

We spent a third night at Panorama Rest Camp. The accommodation was really basic, but clean. However, the view was spectacular. I was so zoned out from all the driving (well Gorgeous Man drove and I knitted) that I didn’t take photos in the evening, and the next morning it was too foggy 😦

We got to Kruger fairly early Thursday morning, but that is a post for tomorrow.

* the worst hotel was one between Sydney and Melbourne where the mattress was so bad that we ended up getting the camping mattress out of the car at about midnight and sleeping on the floor. We will not discuss the hotel I stayed in in Portland, Oregon when I back-packed around the USA which had the back-packers sleeping in a room behind the security guards room… or the hotel in Inner Mongolia in winter with no hot water…

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We are heading off to commune with the Big Five in Kruger Park. Pictures of animals, and hopefully some finished knitting (we’ve got 2 days car travel each way) when I get back.

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Yesterday we graduated our latest batch of English students, some are leaving and some are going up to the next level. We then took them to Table Mountain for the afternoon. We had the perfect day. The weather has been very inclement lately and yesterday was only the second time in a week that the cable car had been running and the mountain open to the public.

Here’s the view from the top. The colour of the sea and sky are untouched, just straight from my camera, and yes, I have trouble with horizon shots, mine seem to always be sloping away.

The top of the mountain was much flatter than I expected and the building that has been done up there is very well done. It’s been kept to a minimum: water saving toilets, a fancy restaurant, a cheaper self-serve restaurant and a gift store, and all the buildings are on a lower level so that they don’t interrupt the view, except of course the docking station for the cable car.

Because of the recent rain there were lots of pools of water in the crevices of the rock. We didn’t have long enough, it’s really worth taking the whole day.

There was time for homage to the Yarn Harlot though.

A travelling sock. I will not discuss the reactions of those around me, let’s just say there was some scuttling away from the crazy woman with the pointy sticks. I did refrain from shouting “Don’t jump” to the sock – so that was something.

Then to more fully illustrate from whence my inspiration came…

I was expecting to have a completed lion block to show you, since last night was Wednesday, and Wednesdays are quilting nights under my new system. But Gorgeous Man commented that his feet are cold and he’d like his new socks. So all other projects have been put on hold for a few days until the socks are done. Especially since we will soon be driving through areas that are getting down into the minus degrees…

Unfortunately, the sock pictured above is no longer with us in that incarnation. Closer inspection, and comparison with Gorgeous Man’s store-bought socks confirmed my suspicions that, since he does not have legs like tree trunks, the sock was going to be too wide. He also requested a longer ribbing so it was frogged and a new sock cast on last night. No picture, you don’t need to see 1 1/2 inches of ribbing.

In a surprise move, the students presented me with some gifts for the baby yesterday. I’m not leaving yet, but some of them are, it was very thoughtful, and very unexpected. Very, very cute denim overalls and some other clothes. They told me I’d made it hard because I don’t know the gender of the baby. One of the gifts is a very pretty receiving blanket in pale green. I’m planning on appliquing something onto it (probably a caterpillar) and redoing the edging with variegated embroidery thread to jazz it up a bit. I’d been planning to buy one to do this on, so it was very cool to get one as a gift.

Only a few more days until we leave for Kruger Park. Can you tell I’m excited? I’m not worried saying that we are going since we will be having someone in the house, and we have an attack cat. Seriously, when we had the nursery furniture delivered the delivery guy saw Fat Boy sitting on the arm of the couch. He stopped short in his tracks – just inside the front door and asked,

“Does he attack?”

Um, no, he’s a cat. My ferocious cat then did me proud by going and hiding in the corner until the ‘scary people’ left…

Book update:

Books I’ve read in 2007,

32. Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon.

This is the third book in an excellent science fiction series.

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Some of you have asked about the pattern I used for the baby’s blanket. It comes from a pattern leaflet/book called Huggy Snuggy Baby Afghans and was printed by the American School of Needlework. I bought it in Spotlight in Australia a few years ago. If you can’t get the pattern and would like to make on, let me know and I’ll give you a rough idea of stitch and row numbers.

I haven’t forgotten that I did tell some of you that I would write up some recipes on the blog – they’ll get done sometime this week.

This weekend was very wet and cold, so we stayed home and puttered round the house. We moved the bookshelf out of the nursery (well Gorgeous Man carried it, I just shifted a few books) to give it a little more space. Now we need to find some thing to store the offspring’s books in. For someone who hasn’t been born yet he/she has quite a collection. Some of the books belonged to Gorgeous Man when he was young, and we have been buying children’s books for years – just so nieces and nephews had something to read when they came to visit mind you.

I finished the buffalo quilt block this weekend.

There’s only the warthog left, and half a lion, and then the piecing will begin. My goal is to, at least get the top pieced in time for guild meeting in July. We are having a joint meeting with another guild and our president has said that she doesn’t want to be shown up by all of their show and tells. Yes, they do take their quilting very seriously and it is quite competitive…

I also worked on my first intarsia jumper. Don’t look too closely, but I’m fairly pleased with how it’s turning out,

and no, I won’t be showing you the reverse…The pattern is from an American Family Circle Magazine compilation of knitting patterns.

I’m also still working on a charity sweater and I cast on a pair of socks for Gorgeous Man. It’s been very cold here so some nice warm socks are in order. I want the socks to fit perfectly so I’m trying the Yarn Harlot’s sock recipe from Knitting Rules. Hopefully they will fit ok. I’ll post a progress picture when it is a little more interesting than just a few rows of ribbing. I’m using local sock yarn and it seems to be much thinner than the last lot I used.

Knitting is certainly becoming more popular here. The number of fake fur/unfun fur scarves around is unbelievable. I also came across knitting yarn in the supermarket this week. Fake fur scarf kits, but knitting in a mainstream store nonetheless! By the time we leave South Africa it may not be so hard to source quality yarn… (we’ve got 4 1/2 years of Gorgeous Man’s contract still to run).

That’s it from me.

Spare a thought for the folks in Australia this week. I went to university in one of the areas that has been hardest hit, and still have friends there, so it’s quite close to my heart. I know that, what with the drought and all, they needed rain, but this is just a little excessive.

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Thanks for all the lovely comments about the offspring. It was nice to hear from some new commenters too. The offspring has become quite active over the last few days, and it’s quite reassuring to feel him/her moving around.

I’m now getting a lot of unsolicited advice -I smile nicely, and nod politely and then ignore most of it.

We bought two pregnancy magazines yesterday – now there’s a money making industry, and Gorgeous Man commented that babies seemed to bring out the weirdness in people. My ‘favourite’ story was the home birth where they have frozen the placenta so that they can plant a tree on top of it when they move into their new home…

No pictures today, all of the WIPs are at the boring stage. I worked on a charity layette last night and ended up frogging it and starting again. Realised that I had read 3 1/4 instead of 3 3/4mm needles for the cast edge and this was why it was curling and looking disgusting. After casting on again with the right size needles it looks much better, but an inch of garter stitch and 1/2 an inch of stocking stitch is pretty boring to look at.

I should get the buffalo quilt block finished tonight, so pictures after the weekend.

One of the things I love about Gorgeous Man is that he is interested in a wide variety of things. Before I met him I had a very limited interest in nature and birds and stuff like that, he has really opened my eyes to the wonders around me. Anyway, he has started another blog (this makes his third, I have trouble keeping up with one!) this one about animals and nature. So if you are interested in nature and bird-watching check out his new blog. Oh, and I took the photo for the header.

Not long now until we leave for Kruger Park. I am very excited about that.

Time for a book update:

Books read in 2007

30. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

31. Faust Eric by Terry Pratchett

If you haven’t read any of Terry Pratchett’s stuff I’d strongly recommend it. It’s not often an author makes me laugh out-loud.

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So here are the latest ultrasound pictures

Traditional ultrasound, and here are the 3D pictures. They are quite amazing.

The technology behind this astounds me. Actually the whole conception/birth process astounds me. Hopefully we won’t be seeing this doctor again. There’s nothing wrong with the doctor, but we only go back if my regular ob/gyn is worried or there are problems with the pregnancy, I’ve been very lucky so far.

I finished the crochet blanket last night.

It’s a throw for the pram/car seat, so it’s not very wide. Here it is draped over the pram. Then teddy insisted that he wanted to model:

It’s turned out well. This is a really quick and easy pattern and suits my crochet abilities perfectly.

There was intarsia knitting last night, and it seems to be working. Though there’s not enough done to show pictures.

Tonight is Wednesday and that means working on quilting blocks. I’m not sure how much I’m going to get done. My sore throat has morphed into the head cold from hell. I may just dose up with lemon and honey and go to bed.

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Just a quick note to say that we had our 22 week scan today. All looks good so far. We got to see the offspring playing with his/her feet. We still don’t know the sex, though we have our suspicions. This month’s suspicions are different to last month’s so who know.

Heart and placenta function look normal, and so is growth. Offspring is a little over 500 grams (about a pound and 1/4).

Pictures will be uploaded as soon as Gorgeous Man has digitised them. The specialist threw in two 3D pictures for free, so I’ll post them too.

I’m currently putting the edging on a crochet blanket and so should have that as a finished object to show in the next day or two. Tonight I’m going to settle down in front of the telly and watch the Amazing Race and attempt intarsia for the first time. Hopefully there won’t be too much frogging!

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How to spot a blogger out in public: she’s the one who, realising she forgot to take a ‘before’ picture, hands the hairdresser the camera before he can touch her hair.

This actually caused much consternation among the staff as the woman handed the camera couldn’t work it and the senior hairdresser had to come over and take the picture. They thought I was quite mad.

You can confirm that the suspected blogger is, indeed, a blogger when she takes out the camera to document the process. Cementing the ‘this woman is a lunatic’ thought in the minds of non-bloggers.

This was the first time I’d been put under one of these. On the second time around I got too hot and felt a bit woozy and had to ask them to take it off.

Not wanting to freak the staff out completely I waited until I met up with a fellow blogger to have the after shot taken.

I’m wondering though, what part of “Don’t blow-dry my hair into a helmet” was ambiguous?

I’m quite happy with the cut and the colour – though it’s more orange than I expected. Because I can never recreate the haircut from the hair dresser – the blow-dryer and I hate each other, I’ll post a ‘reality’ after picture in a few days.

Yes, that is my wedding ring I’m wearing around my neck. The engagement ring still fits, but I can’t fit both of them on my finger any more.

Because this is a craft blog (though I do get distracted from time to time) here is the latest finish for charity. This is number 13 for my commitment to 25 Things for Charity, so I’m on track for the year.

I have a confession to make. This is only the second hat I’ve ever knitted in the round. I love knitting hats in the round. I told Gorgeous Man that I was never knitting a hat flat ever again.

If you haven’t joined 25 Things for Charity I’d encourage you to do so. There’s no penalty if your target isn’t reached, but it’s a good reminder to be mindful of what gifts and blessings we have, and to share those blessings with others

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