Stash Confessions

OK, so maybe I have a problem.

I’m not sure how it started, really. I’m sure it was innocent enough to begin with, but it’s now got to the point where I don’t even have a handle on how much things are getting out of control and I’m too scared to face up to reality.

My name is Kate Knightley and I own an excessive amount of yarn.

Drawer overflowing with yarn

I think it might be taking over my house. I’m pretty sure I can stand in any room and, if I look carefully enough, find evidence of my addiction. Plus there’s all of the stuff I have hidden away. I have two large bureau drawers dedicated to concealing my stash and I think I have the problem contained, but then sometimes I uncover random Lincraft bags chock-full of lambswool/alpaca blend.

It frightens me.

And worse than just the wool – the half finished projects.  Oh!  The shame!  They glare at me reproachfully from the various places I’ve tried to hide them.  They call to me:  Kate!  Kate!  Only three more rounds and I would have been complete!  Kate!  Don’t you love me?

I’ve tried to be good.  Really, I have.  So many of my recent projects have used up stash wool rather than new wool.  I’ve tried to be creative and figure out ways to work with what I’ve got.  But it doesn’t seem to help.  It’s like Strega Nona broke into my stash and stirred it up with her magic wooden spoon.  It’s like the Magic Pudding of stashes.  It doesn’t make a difference how much of it I consume.  It doesn’t get any smaller.

Illustration from Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding in which pudding has been replaced with a ball of yarn

Mr Knightley has his suspicions, but he doesn’t know how bad things really are.  I have been guilty of concealing my (necessary and perfectly legitimate) yarn purchases from him (“this old skein?  I’ve had this for ages”).

But now it’s time to face reality.  I’m going to get all the yarn I can find together and take a picture.  This might be a little disturbing:

embarrassing collection of yarn

Oh!  The shame!  It’s only in a heart shape because Christopher Robin helped me collate it all  (“You love your wool, really, Mum”)

And here are the dud projects:

graveyard of abandoned projects

Don’t look at me!  I’m hideous!

And here’s what makes it all much worse:  I want to buy more.  I want to buy so much more.

This weekend I went to Healesville with my husband of twelve years and we spent some blissful time exploring markets and second-hand shops sitting in lovely cafes all without the company of our children, who, delightful as they are, tend to have grabby hands and an electron-like capacity of being in many places they shouldn’t be all at once.

I got the chance to feast my eyes on some gorgeous hand-made baby clothes and it gave me a desperate case of the wanties.  My fingers started itching to create some adorable hats and jackets for the twins and none of the yarns I already own are quite what I am looking for.

I’m beginning to fantasise about gender-neutral pallettes in rich, unusual colours tempered with soft greys and creams all in finger-weight yarn.  Or large balls of thick, soft, natural-coloured wool.  Or the vivid, jewel-bright colours of Rowan DK or Debbie Bliss yarn (I’ve never actually owned these brands, but everybody on the internet seems to use them and the colours are to die for).

Did you know you can order yarn online and they deliver to your door?  Can you imagine what it would be like to open a parcel and find it full of delicious wool?  I was chatting about this with my husband on the weekend (we were eating lunch in a Healesville café and I’d just seen the inside of this amazing store).  His eyes were a little glazed over for most of the conversation (“granny square matinee jacket” / “New Zealand possum yarn” / “new method for edging blankets’), but he snapped back to reality when I mentioned purchasing yet more wool.

“What are the names of these websites?” he asked, with concern wrinkling his eyebrows, “perhaps I should put a block on them…” and then he went on, talking about “my own good” and “saving me from myself” and “seeking professional help”.   I’m not sure – I wasn’t really listening.  My mind was exploring colours and textures and exciting new projects.

It’s sweet that he cares about me, but he really doesn’t need to be concerned.  It’s fine.  I can stop at any time.

Plus I bet I can get a discount for ordering in bulk.

 

Do you have a wool or craft stash that is getting out of control?  Please photograph and/or write about it and we can enable link to each other.  This is a safe place.  There is no judgement here.

Handbag Fail.

Kate's Handbag

I think I might have double pregnant brain.

Last week was Matilda’s birthday.  One of the presents I wanted to get her was a guitar case from Aldi (only $9.99!).  The only problem was, it didn’t go on sale until the actual day of her birthday.  Matilda, however, is a pragmatist like her father.  She assured me it didn’t bother her in the least if one of her presents was a note that said “I will buy you a guitar case today”, rather than the case itself.  We formulated a plan (one of the perks of homeschooling is that you get to take the day off for your birthday).

  • In the morning, Matilda would have breakfast in bed, followed by presents.
  • After we dropped Harry at the church for his Catechesis of the Good Shepherd session, we would whizz to Aldi to grab the guitar case and then whizz back to pick him up at the end of the session.
  • Then we’d head over to Ikea and have lunch with Daddy (who works nearby).
  • After soaking up the sights and sounds of this Scandinavian wonderland, we would drop by the library to pick up the book Matilda had reserved and was itching to read.
  • Then netball practice
  • Then home.  Matilda would get to choose what we had for dinner.

It was as we traipsed through the local shopping centre on our way to Aldi that we met our first roadblock.  But it was a delightful roadblock.  I ran into Lovely M and Pippi outside the café, where a gaggle of nice school mums were sitting.  How could I resist?

I mentally shifted my Aldi errand to later in the day, ordered a special hot chocolate for Matilda and recklessly abandoned myself to a feast of marvelous gossip.

I guess the next road block I came across was when we got to Ikea.  I must admit, I have a bit of a weakness for the Grand Nordic Palace of Domestic Loveliness, and it’s possible I might have passed this obsession predilection on to my eldest daughter.  We spent rather too long drinking free coffee, sniffing at candles and gasping in rapture at the insides of drawers and cupboards.  After a while, it became too much of a good thing (get DOWN off that pile of rugs, Harry!).

I had been a hostage in that baffling Swedish prison for so long, I was starting to identify with my captors.

"Knights of the Ikea Table"  King Arthur and his knights grapple with Allen keys

By the time we had extricated ourselves, it was already time to take Matilda to netball training.   I longed to go home to rest my aching bones, but then I remembered I still had to go to Aldi.  So I swallowed a sigh and pressed on.

As soon as we trudged through the automatic doors,  Annie announced triumphantly that she needed to go to the toilet.  Getting about with a toddler who is toilet training is a bit like carrying a grenade with the pin drawn.  You have to keep your wits about you.

I ushered us into the nearest Ladies toilet (Christopher Robin insisted on waiting outside) and heaved Annie onto the seat.  Realising that this might be a two-hand operation, I slung my handbag onto the hook behind the open cubicle door and stood in a half crouch, poised for action.

As it turned out, not much action was required.  (“I was just having a try”).  Annie, it would seem, is a connoisseur of public bathrooms, and outside Aldi’s was one she hadn’t sampled yet.

We were SO efficient when we got inside Aldi.  We just swept through there, grabbing everything we needed.  Thankfully, there were still plenty of guitar cases in stock (What if they’d sold out?  What if Matilda missed out completely because her mother was an irresponsible extrovert?).  It wasn’t until we sailed up to the checkout that I realized something was amiss.

“Ummmm,”  I said nervously to the man at the register, “I appear to be missing my handbag.  Might I go back and retrace my steps through the store?”

The man blinked at me and began to shift my groceries off the counter.  I dashed around the store twice, but to no avail.  I went back to my Register Man.

“Ummmm,”  I said, “it’s not there.  I might go check if I left it in the car…”

Register Man nodded blandly.

It was as I approached the automatic doors that it hit me.  The hook.  The toilet door.  I dashed to the Ladies’ toilet and darted into the cubicle.

It wasn’t there.

My mind started racing.  Perhaps some kindly stranger had handed it in?  Perhaps some lady with a gambling problem saw it as an answer to her prayers?  The toilet was next door to a TAB after all.  Perhaps some woman was plonking my handbag on the counter this very minute saying “Put it all on horse number twelve”?

I went back to Register Man, even though he was in the Zone, swiping groceries through the bleeper at top speed.

“Ummmm,”  I said,  “Has anyone handed in a handbag?”

Register Man shook his head.

“What should I do?”  I said

Register Man didn’t know.  Perhaps I could ask at the other shops?

I joined the queue at the Post Office.  The children wouldn’t stop pulling PostShop merchandise off shelves.

Post Office Lady suggested I go talk to Centre Management.  Centre Management was located at the very far end of the shopping centre.  I heaved a big sigh.

As I dragged my poor pregnant bones and my bored and grumpy children across the shopping centre and up a very long flight of stairs (Annie insisted on counting every step.  There were 43.), I reflected upon what I had lost.  I loved that handbag.  It was really something special.  My sister-in-law bought it for me in New York, and I always thought it the Last Word in handbags.  And all the things I had in it.  My wallet.  My phone.  My keys.  Oh Lord – MY KEYS!  How was I going to get home?  How was I going to pick Matilda up from netball??  How was I going to call her coach???

It was a very white-faced Kate who sidled into the Centre Management Office at the Other End of the Shopping Centre.  I rang the bell and waited.

“I’ve lost my handbag,”  I stammered to the lady who appeared behind the desk.

“Can you describe it for me?”  Desk Lady enquired, not unsympathetically.

“Um, it’s soft red leather, with the loveliest stripy lining in really nice colours…”

Desk Lady triumphantly produced my handbag and then patted my back awkwardly as I fell weeping on her shoulder.  I trekked back to Aldi, still reeling from post-traumatic shock (handbag) and the after-effects of Stockholm syndrome (Ikea).  I approached Register Man.

“Ummmm … I found it!”

Register Man looked uncomfortable.  They had already put most of my groceries back on the shelves.

I stumbled around Aldi for about the fifth time that day, blindly grabbing at groceries and forgetting about half of them (but not, thankfully, the guitar case!).  As I finally completed the transaction I began with Register Man half a lifetime ago, I had a look at my watch.

I was going to be late picking Matilda up from netball.

I handed each child an armful of groceries (we’d forgotten the bags) and we raced towards the car.  Go!  Go!  Go!  Everybody tumbled in and we played Escape from Aldi Carpark.  I don’t think we got a high score.  By the time we pulled up to practice we were twelve minutes late.  I apologized profusely to the coach and to my Birthday Girl.  Matilda smiled brightly at me as she clambered into the car.

“Did you get my library book?”

Abundance

An illustration by Annie of two happy people, arms outstretched

I have been dying to tell you this for so long. But you’re not the absolute last to know – I haven’t told Facebook yet…

A couple of months ago, I went to visit my obstetrician. I like my obstetrician: he’s a reassuring man with a deep voice who exudes calm, warmth and good humour.  He’s been helping me give birth for almost ten years now.  OK, so maybe I did the lion’s share of the work when it came to labour, but he has definitely been a good person to have in my corner.  In my mind, he’s the best baby doctor in Melbourne.  But I wouldn’t tell him that.

Anyway, I was visiting my obstetrician a couple of months ago and – well – it wasn’t a social visit (excited squeal).  I was eagerly anticipating Baby Number Five and very keen to hear that everything was in good order.  Mr Knightley was at work, but he wanted to hear the heartbeat too, so I planned to give him a call so he could listen in when the time came.

After the intial boring stuff (checking blood pressure, reading over blood tests, getting weighed on the rude scales that tell me to ‘GET OFF’ before they calculate my weight), it was time for Doc to play with his ultrasound machine. This is the best bit.  Doc squirts my belly with cold goo and examines the screen as he presses the wand thingy onto my bump.

And then he stops.

And he takes the wand thing off.

“What?”  I say.

Doc just looks at me and tries to frown.  But his eyes are twinkling.

What?!” I demand.

Doc shakes his head solemnly.  His mouth is twitching.  I wonder idly what would happen if I throttle him with the curly cable from his ultrasound machine.

“WHAT.  IS.  IT?”  I enunciate in sheer desperation.

Doc draws a deep breath.  Then he somehow manages to find three words to say.

“There are two.”

It proves impossible to continue the ultrasound for the next few minutes as I can’t stop giggling manaically.  My belly is wobbling all over the place and it makes the pictures all blurry.  Then I call Mr Knightley.

“Are you ready to hear the heartbeat, George?” (That’s Mr Knightley’s first name.  It’s only mentioned once in the whole of Emma, but it’s there if you know where to look.  And did you know that Mr Darcy’s first name is ‘Fitzwilliam’?  No wonder he’s so uptight!  But I digress…)

“Yes.” says Mr Knightley

“Erm…which one would you like to hear first?”  And then I burst into a fresh peal of giggles which makes everything impossible again.  Mr Knightley is laughing too, although I think I also hear him groan “we’re going to need a new car!”.  Doc waits patiently for me to calm down again.

Larger version of earlier illustration by Annie.  Shows caption: "The Twins"

And then I manage to lie still and the three of us listen to two perfect heartbeats.  As I lay there, watching two small babies kick their tiny legs and wave at me, I reflect on God’s sense of humour, his abundant generosity and his rather unnerving faith in me.

Christopher's illustration of me carrying two small babies

This is unpredictable, insane, terrifying, a major challenge – and yet somehow it makes perfect sense.  I can’t explain it.  I have no control at all over this situation, but that’s OK, because I feel in my heart that God does.  And relying on God is something I need to get better at.

A painting by Christopher of "Mum and the Twins"

Now, does anyone know the patron saint for procuring good-quality, second hand, 8-seat people movers?

Busy Fingers #3

I just thought I’d share with you what I did as a card for the two weddings I went to in December.  Both were the sort of weddings where money was the most appropriate gift.  This always feels a little impersonal to me, which is why I like to include some hand-made accompaniment.

I enlisted Matilda’s and Christopher Robin’s help creating the backdrop (I asked them to write the word ‘love’ everywhere), then I crocheted the heart using this neat pattern from Skip to my Lou.

After that, I glued it all together with a co-ordinating button.  I may have become a little obsessed with my hot-glue-gun of late…

crochet heart card

Perhaps not as good as my lopsided cake card, but I like it, just the same!

Post 100!

Bells at Bells Beach

Let the balloons fall from the ceiling! This, my friends, is Post Number One Hundred for Laptop on the Ironing Board. Huzzah!

I figured, seeing as though my blog’s second birthday came and went without a peep from me, I’d make a fuss of post 100 instead.  This takes a supreme level of co-ordination that’s almost beyond me.

Vital Statistics

Posts:  100 (well obviously)
Followers: 847
Website hits: 19,374
Most Popular Post: Soul Diet
Countries: 105
Most Obscure Sounding Country to Visit my Blog: Martinique.  Or possibly Guernsey…

Thank you for this little piece of self-indulgence.  And, while I’m at it, thank you for this BIG piece of self-indulgence that is this blog.  I can’t describe the joy it brings me to write something and know that you’re actually going to read it.  Thank you for supporting me in my electronic therapy!

I’m sure there are other important things I should say on such an occasion, but I can’t think of them now, so let’s just crack open the electronic champagne.  To blogs everywhere!  Salut!

Homeschool Update

Our first week of homeschooling has been rather blissful. Matilda is her usual lovely self and Christopher Robin has proven to be a joy to teach. He attacks his work with enthusiasm and is great fun to have around.  Life has been much simpler, too, without a lot of school admin to deal with.  It’s funny the amount of background stress that sort of thing creates for me.  I will cheerfully draw up schedules and curriculums for homeschool and happily spend hours researching the best resources and discussing plans with anybody who’ll listen.  But sort out uniform/school lunch/reader/form and money/permission slip?  Yech!  Spare me!

Christopher Robin has proudly started his own blog.  He calls it Bruce Bogtrotter’s Guide to Food and it’s all about his favourite subject in the world.  He has named himself after a gastronomically talented character in Roald Dahl’s Matilda (which we recently read together).   Christopher/Bruce has been formulating all sorts of ideas for upcoming posts, and I’m sure he would fall off his chair in excitement if you were to leave a friendly comment there…

A bunch of extracurricular sports and other activities start this week and in a fortnight we will join a weekly co-op, which thankfully will cover a lot of the subjects I tend to skim over (like PE, Music and Art!)  and give the kids a chance to work in groups.

This is just a little post, designed so that I can give you a small wave whilst in the thick of it.  I really hope to write something more interesting soon!

collection of gifts

Busy Fingers #2

This year, I had the idea of beefing up our Christmas presents to our nephews and nieces with some handmade gifts. You see, Mr Knightley’s brothers and sister always give such thoughtful and generous presents to my children that the presents I buy for their children look rather plain in comparison. I am certain that I am the only one who notices this, but I wanted to find a way to value-add, just the same. Unfortunately, I was only hit with the inspiration to do this ONE WEEK before our Christmas lunch.  But the genius of Lucy Ravenscar and the sheer wonder of my hot-glue gun came together and I somehow managed to pull it off.

It was a Christmas miracle.

I made:

Little crochet turtle

1. A turtle keyring for my ten-year-old niece (from Lucy Ravenscar’s most excellent pattern);

flower hair clips with button centres

2. These hair clips for my two-year-old niece (flower motif pattern here);

little crochet pig

3. A ‘lucky pig’ for my baby niece (another of Lucy Ravenscar’s remarkable patterns); and

banana finger puppets

4. These Bananas-in-Pyjamas finger puppets for my one-year-old nephew.  These were my own pattern and a lot trickier than they look.  The pyjama stripes are worked in rows and joined to make a cylinder, then the head is worked in decreasing rounds on one of the ends.  If you try to work the whole thing in rounds, the stripes go diagonal.  Or so I’m told.

My other two nephews (aged seven and nine) missed out on a handmade addition to their presents.  What on earth do you crochet for a nine-year-old boy?

collection of gifts

These were all very well received and I was feeling remarkably smug about the whole situation … until I saw the truly beautiful, thoughtful presents my children received in return. I’m gonna have to start a lot earlier next year!