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Archive for July, 2007

Today is a wonderful day, the sun is shining and I can see the ocean in the distance from the slopes of the mountain on which I work, but for the last week or so Cape Town has had terrible rainy weather. Many of the informal settlements have been flooded and people are saying that it’s the wettest winter in years. Ironically in the north of this country they are battling terrible wildfires and the death toll from that is now over 30, including 6 fire-fighters.

On Thursday, after a particularly loud thunderclap, a flash came out of the wall where my computer is magically connected to the internet… and the magic stopped. Luckily the computer was unscathed, but my connection to the outside world came to an abrupt end. I’m back on-line now, so it’s all good.

We are expecting more rain on Thursday, great weather for staying at home knitting and quilting, but not so great for going to work. The quilt is starting to come together as I join the rows and add in the prairie points. Then I need to think about top and bottom borders. I’ve decided to alter the pattern a little.

I need some advice from the knitters out there. The pattern for the baby sweater I’ve knitted instructed me to knit a button flap. I’ve done that.

The next set of instructions just says to”set in the sleeves and sew side seams.”

Any ideas on how to set in a sleeve to a shoulder seam that is not sewn up? It’s driving me nuts and I just want to get it finished so that I can start the next thing (cute cardigan made from sock yarn that Gorgeous Man bought for me at Stitches DC on his last visit to the US).

I had to frog the lace socks, once they got long enough to try on I had to accept that there was no way they were going to fit. I’m knitting a plain stocking stitch sock with the yarn instead. Pictures when the first one is finished – hopefully tonight.

There has also been reading.

Book update:

Books I’ve read in 2007 –

39. Saving Cinderella Lilian Darcy

40. Spit & Polish Barry Ronge – this is another one of the books that Gorgeous Man won. Barry Ronge is a columnist for one of the big South African newspapers and this is a collection of his essays. It was an interesting insight into some of the issues that have had the country talking over the last decade or so.

41. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows JK Rowling – what can I say, I succumbed to the mania and pre-ordered. I enjoyed it, but did feel (and now I’m going to speak heresy) that it was a little long-winded and kind of anti-climactic. Could have left the last chapter off. That’s all I’m going to say.

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When we graduated our last crop of students they surprised me with a gift. I was somewhat surprised since I wasn’t stopping work just then, but they explained to me that some of them were leaving and so wanted to give me a present for the baby. It was very sweet. The gift contained some cute denim overalls and some pants and tops. It also contained a plain green fleece blanket.

The blanket is nice, very warm, but it was rather dull, so I turned it into this:

I appliqued an octopus onto it and blanket stitched it down. Then I started blanket stitching around the edging in variegated thread, but it just didn’t look right. Gorgeous Man suggested a material edging, so I cut up what was left (I literally had 1/4 inch left over after cutting the binding) machine stitched it onto the front and hand stitched it onto the back.

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and I’ll be visiting some fabric stores to get more material to make some more.I’ve got quite a few designs floating around in my head.

Once the off-spring comes, and we know a gender and have a name – girl’s names are chosen, but we are still arguing over discussing boys names, I want to personalise a blanket with the off-spring’s name. I haven’t seen anything like this here in South Africa, and am considering the possibility of a little cottage industry once I stop work…

Tonight is ‘working on knitting for me/off-spring’ night so I should have a sweater sewn up and ready to show tomorrow.

Oh, and tomorrow I’ve booked myself in for a pregnancy massage. Gorgeous Man sent me for one after our big road trip to Kruger and back, and it was heaven. I can’t wait! I haven’t been sleeping well as my back has been quite sore, so hopefully this will help. Even if it doesn’t, an hour of pamering is still nice.

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I got a fair bit of stuff accomplished this weekend, but I was like a butterfly flitting from one project to another – socks, intarsia sweater, African animal quilt, and baby blanket.

Then, on Saturday night we picked up our pre-ordered copy of a certain book that was released with great fan-fare on Friday night (Saturday morning – we are too old to go to launches like that, ok I really need my sleep at this stage…) and Sunday was spent immersed in the magical world of 3 young friends. No spoilers please, I haven’t finished reading it yet.

I’ve been modifying a receiving blanket we were given and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. There’s choir rehearsal tonight, but I think it will be finished by tomorrow.

On the quilt front, the sashing is pieced and now I’m tacking prairie points together then the top needs assembling and the back pieced. I’m going to try hand quilting it, so that will be another new experience.

I’m procrastinating sewing up the intarsia baby sweater because that’s my least favourite part of knitting.

I’ve turned the heel on the first sock and am currently working my way to the end of the foot. I’ll definitely be making this pattern again in plain yarn – I’m a bit worried that it’s going to be a bit narrow, so might enlarge the pattern next time. We’ll see I guess

Thanks to those of you who commented on the cloth nappy/diaper issue, we will probably end up taking that route.

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We live in a security complex. It’s not as secure as some complexes – we don’t have guards on the gate or anything like that, but our little collection of houses is surrounded by a side wall (with spikes on top) and a back wall (with electric fencing on top). Earlier this week there was a loud crash in the middle of the night. When we drove out of the complex this is what we saw:

Luckily, this is the storage area for rubbish bins and equipment for the gardeners and maintenance people. Luckily it’s also nowhere near our house.

I’m working on a red cardigan for the Hottentots Holland Helpers, but I’ve had such a bad run with it. I frogged about 10 rows of the left front last night, so not much progress to show there. I am hoping to have some Finished Objects to show after the weekend though. We have a nasty cold front coming in, so it will be perfect crafting weather.

Just a quick question. Is anyone out their cloth diapering (or as we would say here, and in Australia – using cloth nappies?). I’d be really interested in any feedback or advice you can give. We have found a supplier of pre-folded nappies here and we are going to have a look next week – requires a trip in to Cape Town.

One of the things I love about travelling with Gorgeous Man is that I get to see stuff that I would otherwise miss. I’d be pretty right seeing stuff like this on my own.

But I’m pretty sure I would have driven over right past this little guy.

Gorgeous Man has some great shots of the chameleon actually on the road at his blog. I also would have missed this lilac breasted roller.

Not the best picture, but not bad for a little digital.

Gorgeous Man got very excited when we came across a group of Southern Ground Hornbills.

We saw a group of males and females and a juvenile. They are currently the subject of a study, so our sighting got logged in.

Finally here’s a picture for those of you who think that Africa is warm all the time.

Kruger Park is in the north of South Africa, and we live on the southern tip. Coming home we drove through snow, we pulled over and I took this from the car window. I declined Gorgeous Man’s generous offer to take a picture of me standing in the field – it was still snowing.

There has also been reading.

Book update:

Books I’ve read in 2007 –

38. Texas by Tom Eaton. This is a South African novel (it was part of the package Gorgeous Man won from Penguin last year). Biggest waste of reading time this year. Really didn’t enjoy it. Enough said.

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The sleeves on the baby sweater are finished and cast off. The shoulder seam is sewn and now I need to pick up the neck and sew it all together. My least favourite part of knitting.

Here is the latest sock in progress.

The pattern is Yukon Leaves and the yarn is Opal Tiger (bought locally!!). I like the pattern a lot, but think it’s a bit lost with this yarn. I’m going to have to do another pair in a plain yarn I think.

Are you sick of animal photos yet? These are Gorgeous Man’s shots of the elephants wrestling.

Note the muddy water being tossed in the air by the elephant at the back.

and so it begins…

The elephant equivalent of arm wrestling?

Tusks banging. It was actually very cool to see this sort of behaviour, and because we were the only car around we had an uninterrupted view.

Now that Gorgeous Man’s socks are finished, and keeping his feet nice and cosy, I’m back to my regular rotation system of projects. So, tonight is quilting. Hopefully I’ll get enough done to warrant a picture or two.

I’ve been getting heartburn pretty badly, but I hate the medicine prescribed by the doctor – tastes foul. I’ve discovered that sugarless chewing gum will take the heartburn away – doing the happy dance.

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I had my ‘girls only’ pre-natal class last night, where we learnt what to pack into the suitcase to take to the hospital. (I think I’ll be asking some of my experienced friends if they actually used everything that we are told to bring…)

We are still not comfortable with the childbirth educator and are tossing up whether to try and find another one. We’ll probably make a decision after the next couples’ class in August. My friend who had a baby 10 weeks ago raved about her, and other people who have been to classes with her keep telling me how wonderful she was. That hasn’t been our experience so far, and the women in the class are rather unfriendly. I tried to initiate conversation last night with the girl next to me and got a two word answer. Probably didn’t help that when I was asked to draw the lucky number I pulled my own out of the basket…(prize was baby soap and bath oil – which I probably won’t be using since we’ll most likely go the organic option).

Anyway, on to other things. While we were in Kruger we were lucky enough to see elephants taking a dust bath in the river bed. These photos were taken with the magic of a zoom lens as the river bed is much lower than the road.

If you look closely in this next picture you can see the dust being snorted out of the trunk of the elephant on the left.

These two then started to get a little aggressive with each other.

Unfortunately, my photos of them actually trunk wrestling (and tusk banging) turned out blurry. I’ll get some off Gorgeous Man – it was on his side of the car – and post them at a later date. The sound of the tusks smashing together was really quite something.

The bird hides were wonderful for seeing animals other than birds. This elephant came in really close to the hide and the picture was taken without any zoom.

We also saw lots of mothers with their young, like this pair crossing the road.

In keeping with the elephant theme, here I am barefoot and pregnant at the Olifants River (Olifants means elephants in Afrikaans, I’m not comparing size…).

You can get out on this bridge, provided you stay within the yellow lines at the centre of the bridge’s span.

The latest sock is long enough to photograph now, and I’m hoping to get the sleeves of my latest baby jumper off the needles tonight, so there will be a crafty post tomorrow.

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We had really good weather this weekend, it was still cold, but it was nice to see the sun. I worked a little on each of my current projects:

* animal quilt

* intarsia sweater

* cardigan for charity

and began a new project, but there isn’t enough progress on any of them to be worth showing photos.

I’ve decided that I just wasn’t feeling the tunisian crochet love enough to make a whole blanket out of it, so I’ve given myself permission to cast it aside. So some new socks jumped onto the needles. I’m trying socks with lace this time. Pictures when it’s long enough to slip onto the foot and show the pattern.

Gorgeous Man and I went to the movies on Sunday. A certain movie about a certain young wizard. I enjoyed it, but I’m a bit of a fan. We have two cinemas near us. One is in the big super mall and the other is in a town about 20 minutes away and is much smaller. It costs us half the price to go to the smaller one. The big cinema in the mall also assigns you seating. I’ve never seen this before anywhere. The odd thing is that people stick to the seats they are allocated. Last week we saw Amazing Grace – there were maybe 30 people in the theatre and all of them sat where they were told.

The smaller cinema doesn’t allocate seats, I did get a little uncomfortable during the film – will have to take a cushion for my back next time, and Gorgeous Man had to help lever me out of the seat at the end of it.

I had one of Gorgeous Man’s female colleagues pat me on the stomach this weekend and tell me “my, you’ve just exploded!” She meant it in a nice way, but here’s a newsflash. I’m 5 foot 3 inches (and 3/4) That’s 157 cm in metric. There is nowhere for the offspring to go but out…

I do have some elephant wrestling pictures to share from our trip to Kruger, but that will have to wait for another day, as they are still in the camera.

My blog stats show (does anyone else check their stats regularly?) a huge spike in readers over the weekend, so hello to all my new readers, feel free to delurk 🙂

By the way, The Heathen Housewife is having an awesome contest. Head on over and leave her a comment.

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Thank you for your encouraging words about my little quilt. I’m hoping to get the bulk of it pieced this weekend.

I worked on a little red cardigan for charity last night, got the back finished and the left front cast on. I seem to have lost the picture that goes with the pattern, so I don’t know what it’s going to look like.

While in Kruger we saw baboons. Now we didn’t get too excited by them as we have baboons here in the Western Cape, but I couldn’t let this shot pass me by. He (it looks pretty masculine to me) looks so human.

Gorgeous Man has some great Kruger pictures on his blog, but he hasn’t uploaded the baboons yet.

The sock put in the occasional appearance while we were driving around.

Yes, I made the stitch marker myself. Do you know how hard it is to get a shot in focus of a travelling sock? My already high esteem of Stephanie increased even more after several minutes of trying to show the sock the buffalo.

This herd kept us waiting for about half an hour as they crossed the road. They were a very big group.

See the calves, they were very cute.

This big guy stood ‘guard’ for quite a while as the herd crossed. Just stood there staring us down.

This was the alpha male of the group. He engaged in a bit of biff with one of the other big males while we were watching. He was also covered in scars.

Last picture, totally unrelated, but I like the light in this shot.

I was surprised to learn that there is more than one species of zebra. This is a Burchell’s zebra. It’s not dirty, they do actually sometimes have brown on them.

There has been reading.

Book update:

Books I’ve read in 2007 –

34. No! I don’t want to join a book club! by Virginia Ironside

35. The World to Come by Dara Horn

These are not books I’d usually read, they were part of the package that Gorgeous Man won from Penguin Books at Christmas last year. I enjoyed The World to Come. They aren’t good enough to keep though so we are going to be donating them to our local public library.

36. The Secret Annexe An Anthology of War Diarists Irene & Alan Taylor (eds). The title of this book is taken from Anne Frank who was going to call her diary that if it was ever published. It has excerpts from diaries of famous people like Anne Frank, George Orwell, Josef Goebbels, and from ‘ordinary’ civilians and soldiers. The book covers diaries written during wars from the 17th century through to blogs from the Gulf War in 2001.

Something completely different…

37. A Pregnant Proposal by Elizabeth Harbison – we will not discuss my need to read trashy romance novels when I am feeling completely run down and exhausted.

After a week of rain, today is lovely and fine (still cold though), I’m hoping that we have a sunny weekend so I can get some new fabric purchases washed and dried.

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Firstly, I must apologise to the person who arrived here yesterday after searching for “I need a pattern for a 4 ft police car” I don’t know how you ended up here… but then, I don’t know why you would need a pattern for a police car either.

Last night, while watching 4 episodes of Prison Break Season 2 on DVD, I finished adding all the beaks, tails, legs and faces to the African animal applique blocks. In hindsight I probably should have gotten a book of embroidery stitches out of the library, as I’m pretty clueless when it comes to that sort of thing, but most of them came up well.

Here is the layout

The six plain blocks in the centre will have a very large elephant appliqued over them once the quilt is pieced together and the vertical rows will be set with sashing strips. It’s been too cold to use my sewing room, so I’ve taken over the dining room table. Gorgeous Man is very patient, and he helped with the layout of the blocks. Looking at the picture I can see one area I need to play with a little more, but overall I’m happy with how it is looking so far.

While at Kruger we were held up for about half an hour by two large elephants on and beside the road. One had tusks so large that Gorgeous Man said he was probably named. Some research when we got back showed that we had seen Hlanganini.

These pictures were taken through the windscreen of the car.

Last picture for today, another vervet monkey crossing the road.

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We had our monthly check-up with the Ob/gyn yesterday. The offspring is currently lying head down and now weighs 1.1kgs (2.42 pounds), a little more than average apparently. This is good news as it means that if the offspring does (God forbid) decide to make an early appearance it has a “very good prognosis” now that it is over 1 kilo.

Discussed the birth plan with the doctor in more detail – won’t bore you with those details though. I did discover that I am the first person in all his years practising (both here and in the UK) that he has met who is allergic to latex.

No pictures this month as it was really fuzzy and the offspring was being most uncooperative.

I do not photgraph well, I always end up looking daft in the photos. Gorgeous Man says it’s because I’m too self-conscious. Last weekend my friend Claudelle from Digital Memories came over and took some pictures of my rather large belly, and of Gorgeous Man and I. You can see them here. We are also going to get her to take some pictures of the offspring after s/he is born. If you live in Cape Town she is available to take beautiful candid portraits of your kids.

I’d show you some knitting, but 2 inches of sleeves is really kind of boring. Hopefully the jumper will be off the needles soon.

I visited one of the local yarn stores yesterday, (they also sell scrapbooking and other craft stuff) my first time in it’s new location. Just stunning, and they finally have Opal sock yarn: 2 lines, one line is R33 dearer than I can get it in Belville and the other is R12 dearer. So it will probably won’t be coming home with me anytime soon – have an aversion to paying as much for a pair of socks as I would for a shirt… They do seem to have branched out from all nasty fake stuff and have some gorgeous cottons and wool blends. I’ll be back with me new books to choose some yarns (once the stash has been reduced a little – if I can’t fit any more yarn into my stash tub then I have too much). The only problem is that their fancy new location now comes with even fancier new prices.

I’ve been nominated by both Simone and Ann for the Rocking Girl Blogger Award, so I guess I’d better play along. I am currently too technologically braindead to work out how to add the tricky button in.

I tag:

1. Diary of a Mad Fabri-Holic I love her colour combinations and bold quilts. Check out her Elvis quilt, you can’t get any more rocking than that.

2. Feminista Della Casa she rocks for being socially and environmentally conscious.

3. Javajem – Knits Knitting, coffee, and now spinning, what’s not to love?

4. purl this! Beautiful knitting, cats, and an awesome manicure

5. Cookie from Shut Up & Knit! just one word – Attitude!

Don’t feel that you have to play along if I’ve tagged you.

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