I had plans for the Easter weekend. Nothing terribly exciting. Catch up with friends and family. Go out. Walk the dogs (2 visiting cavaliers so wrestle may be a better verb). Scrape and paint the eaves. Bit of gardening. The kind of projects you feel like you have the leisure to attack on a four day break.
None of that happened.
Instead, I did three things I didn’t think I’d do this Easter.
1) Get the flu.
Not fun. I had a five day break after battling through work on Wednesday. Soup was about all I felt like eating. So putting my feet up, rest and recovery became the plan for the weekend. I dragged myself to Spotlight to investigate wool for practicing couching, decided that wool was too expensive and couching not something I’d realistically do a lot but unfortunately fell in love with wool all over again… I trotted home with 4 or 5 balls that I couldn’t resist, scoured Ravelry for patterns, decided it was time to give crochet another go and enrolled in a Craftsy class (more about that later) to pass the time.
2) Get bitten
Ask a non-Australian about visiting Australia and chances are, the three S’s will feature. Sharks, snakes and spiders. We Aussies like to perpetuate that idea of danger. We’re tough. We’re rugged. We wrestle crocodiles and laugh in the face of giant insects.
I’m cautious by nature. I never learnt to deal with waves so I don’t swim in the ocean. The added benefit of that is that a shark/stonefish/rip can’t get you in a swimming pool and a wave can’t dump you so hard you lose your bathers and emerge spitting sand and trying to cover your modesty. (That never happened, forget I said that…). So sue me. I’m not a proper Australian.
I am very careful around snakey areas, especially in Spring/Autumn when they are slow, sluggish and most likely to be seen. I scan constantly. I found this out while hiking in Hawaii, even though I’d been told there were no snakes on the island. It’s automatic. Scan and stomp if there’s a likelihood of snakes. I don’t let the dogs off lead in bushland because I don’t trust that they have the same healthy respect for snakes that I do. I’ve seen plenty of dugites and tigersnakes on my walks. In 33 years, I’ve only once nearly trodden on one and that was as a kid when I wasn’t so cautious. Really, it’s not that dangerous here Down Under.
Spiders, I’m a bit more blase around. We don’t have the deadly funnelweb in WA, but I have plenty of Australia’s next most infamous spider around my garden – the Redback. I keep my eyes open, I have an annual pest control spray. I try to remember to spray the risky areas. I try to not leave gardening gloves or shoes out and then put them on without looking. I’m a bit slack about this – I’ve never encountered one in a glove or a shoe. I’ve seen plenty lurking around piles of bricks so I’m careful moving that stuff and things in the shed.
So getting bitten my number 2 on Australia’s most dangerous spider list wasn’t in the Easter plans. I should have been safe. Flu = no gardening. I did my crochet. I learnt about ‘blocking’. (For those who don’t know, blocking is wetting your knitted/crocheted article and then pinning it so it is the right shape). I had the brilliant idea of using the styrofoam box my Sweet 16 came in and pinning my finished squares to that. I got it out the shed. I checked it for spiders. I felt a couple of cobwebs but nothing redback-ish.
It worked pretty well. Styrofoam was the perfect thing to ‘block’ with.
Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I dragged my fluey ass and four cavaliers (two to whom ‘walk’ means get hysterical, fight the lead, bounce off the ceiling and bark) to the local school oval.
10 minutes in, I feel what I think is a sharp prickle. I said ‘Ouch’ and looked down the side of my reef sandal. Instead of a prickle, I spot what I first think is the biggest black bullant ever. Somewhere between throwing my shoe off at the speed of light to get rid of the creature and it hitting the ground and the insect disappearing, I realise it’s a spider. I don’t think redback because out in the open on a school oval is not redback territory. They like dark, hidden corners, piles of bricks, protected nooks. But my foot hurts like someone has shot a nail gun into it so I headed home and iced it. I googled spider bites. This is what I learnt:
- There are only two significantly venomous spiders in Australia – funnelwebs and redback spiders. Who knew?
- Funnelwebs (or ‘Big Black Spiders’) are treated as medical emergencies; everything else just gets iced. Antivenom is no longer used.
- No one has died from a redback bite since 1983. You’re only at risk as a small child, frail elderly person or if you have an allergic reaction / systemic effects – heart palpitations, anaphylaxis etc.
I was pretty doubtful it was a redback bite and didn’t want to bother anyone – although given the fluey symptoms I had half the symptoms already anyway … I did text a friend who is an ER doctor to check the google-facts. He said ice, painkillers and vodka – and the hospital won’t provide the last of those. Five hours later I was still sobbing/screaming whenever I took the ice off and put weight on my foot, so according to the doc, in all likelihood it was a redback. I didn’t remember till the next day that I’d got the blocking box out of the shed. I’m guessing I disturbed him/her then and he/she hid out in the side of my shoe for a while. Maybe he/she felt at home given the motif on the heel?
3) (Re)Learn to crochet.
My grandma taught me to knit when I was six. By seven, she’d taught me to do fair-isle cables and my tension was pretty much perfect. I’m not bragging. I just took to knitting like a duck to water. I tried a couple of times over the years to crochet, but I never quite got into it and always had tension problems. I’d say it’s been at least 20 years since I picked up a crochet hook.
A couple of the patterns I liked were lacy type designs and had these weird-ass patterns that I couldn’t make head or tail of. Craftsy conveniently had an offer on, I had the wool and had to stay off my feet, so I enrolled in See It, Crochet It: Reading Diagrams (w/ Charles Voth). Best Craftsy class I’ve done. I had to google some of the basic stitches to remind myself – I wouldn’t recommend doing this one cold. But the project is awesome, it’s logically taught, it guides you through everything and I can now read those weird-ass patterns! My cowl is nearly finished so something good has come out of this Easter weekend!
This was the first crochet project – so fast and so simple. Not part of the Craftsy class but it set me off on the crochet binge. I’ll do a proper photo when it’s finished.
I can’t guarantee that you won’t get bitten by a redback or eaten by a shark if you take this class, but it’s worth the risk…