Competition time!

G'day all!

Because I am feeling generous at the moment, having given myself a nice dose of mercury (very therapeutic as long as you are Victorian or earlier, doncha know!) and also having developed a grand-niece, I reckon it is time for a competition.

What do you need to do?

One of two things (or both if you want!). Tell me:

  1. about a time you mishandled dangerous chemicals and/or compounds, eg when you played with a mercury switch and blew it up, causing mercury vapour to cover the whole area (including your lungs and skin...) or
  2. what I should do to appear more like a great aunt? (Eg how should I dress, what embarrassing habits should I adopt) (Don't say get wrinkly - I am working on that all by myself! LOL)

Prizes are your choice of anything up to 100g of yarn not yet sold from my website or if there is something specific you particularly want that is sold I can see if I can dye some more up or do a custom dye job.

Competition closes Friday May 11 10PM EST Oz time. That means Thursday midnight for the westernmost US states I think...



  1. You could get grey hair (in a bun of course)..long loose dresses in floral print and wear glasses low on your nose...Saying "what dearie I cant hear you?" over and over again! lol

    Congrats on becoming a Great Auntie!


  2. And you must wear a sunbonnet, like they did in Little House on the Prairie! And get a creaky rocking chair! And take up knitting... oh, wait...

    Well, I have about 1/2 oz of mercury (quite a bit more than in a thermometer) from my old thermostat that I have to take to hazardous waste disposal. So far so good on not mishandling it... but there's time...

  3. Wow - I don't have the first idea for either of those. Although I'm a great-auntie myself, and I just knit, knit, knit for that little guy. His mom and I joke that when she proudly tells people that his great-aunt made what he;s wearing, they probably assume a 70-something old creaky lady in a rocking chair did it!


  4. 1. once, when i was a kid, i was at my aunt's house and i was thirsty. i opened her fridge and drank some "punch". it tasted funky, so i put it back. it was sugar water for her humingbird feeders.

    2. said aunt is my favorite auntie. she always takes me to the zoo (even now), and plays video games with me. we played through super mario together, and she bought me my wii. so trips to the zoo and video games are two great things for aunts to be into!

  5. Long dresses in a rusty black bombazine, a lacy mob cap and a black parasol. And button-up black boots. A heavy application of face powder, and smell of something old-fashioned like lavendar water.

  6. When I was five I bit the bottom off the mercury-filled thermometer - maybe that doesn't count as mis-hand-ling!

  7. second time Ive done this ,something went wrong so if it has gone through please delete one,at least you will be able to see how my recall of yarn goes,LOL

    Welll,dont know if this counts but...
    when my first son was a few months old (and we were in the bush so pretty much isolated,) he developed what we thought was a temperature so I got out the thermometer and Hubby decided we has better test it first,in MY just cooked FRIED RICE,mercury everywhere in the pan as the glass dinner that night!

    And for the second one!
    Nothing beats a big sloppy kiss from Great Aunty Lynne smelling of lavender(Avon?) talc powder,He He He .....

  8. Hmm all I can remember of potentially hazardous chemicals was me macerating some Jurassic rocks (to remove the fossilised Gingko leaves, dontcha know) in nitric acid on a lab bench, and being told to get that into a fume cupboard like, now. No exciting incidents with mercury though.

    I reckon the great aunt thing, you should just wear more purple, and see how many interesting colours you can have in your hair at once :-D

  9. Magas5:36 am

    I believe you need to either carry a tissue in your watch band or stuffed down into your bra. The bra, I think. Then you could dig it out for the occasional sneeze and cause all kinds of embarrassment.

  10. Hmm, can't think up a time I misused a hazardous thing, unless that plutonium episode counts....
    just kidden. All great aunts have to reek of moth balls, their house,their clothes, their breath, EVERYTHING! Nothing screams great aunt better than mothballs.

  11. My only toxic substance was when I was 11, I was dared to drink perfume mixed with ajax. Wasn't very tasty.
    As for being a great aunt- wear a lacy shawl while you knit!

  12. Anonymous7:05 am

    Hmmm...don't know when I've personally mishandled anything, but one of my kids gave me plenty of gray 2 or 3 she managed to get the lid off a container of artificial nail liquid and DRINK it...and she ate paint among a few other things. Whew, those were the days!
    Lisa in Oregon

  13. Become a nun! Several of my favorite great-aunts are nuns, and pretty amazing women at that.

  14. At work, we make liquid nitrogen ice cream quite often -- some cream, some sugar, some vanilla, some liquid nitrogen. A couple of minutes later, yummy ice cream. And of course, since there's always more liquid nitrogen in the canister, we have to freeze things. And then it's fun to throw what's left on the floor and watch it skitter around...

  15. Ah...the time I cleaned the litter box with Clorox? hmm....kitty urine has....amonia in it, right? Well, I almost was asphyxiated (it just never crossed my mind what I was doing...till I couldn't stand up and couldn't stop "smelling" the fumes).
    Maybe THAT's what's wrong with me???
    Oh, definitely wear LOUD - anything....that's an automatic "great-aunt" kinda thing...

  16. Well, last year I was cleaning my shower with the Shower cleaner with bleach in it, and accidently sprayed some in my left eye. The burning was unreal. I ran to run water over my eye to clean it out. Luckily it was a small amount and I was able to flush it sufficiently that I just had a red eye for a few days. Lucky I didn't blind myself! LOL.

  17. I recently found a leaking battery in one of the kids' toys. I wiped the moisture with a napkin and threw the napkin away. I washed my hands and then later wiped my eye. BURNED! owowowowow! I took my contacts out and flushed my eye. All good now!

  18. Hmm there was the time I threw a nearly empty bottle of copier toner into the wood stove. The lid popped off and zinged past my face and a burst of flame flew out singing my arm.. Quite exciting.
    I have also broken a mercury thermometer, fortunately it was in the sink so it just got rinsed down.

  19. Well, congrats to the new great auntie!

    Dangerous, dangerous situation: Ok. So, I've been dyeing quite a bit of yarn lately.

    1. I've left the acid dye (powder form) tightly capped in the kitchen on a high shelf.

    2. My dogs live in the kitchen when no one is home.

    1 + 2= horrifying Saturday night!

    This weekend I came home weary and tired after volunteering at a school event. I opened up the kitchen door, and my dog's feet were pink! A quick glance showed the disaster in all it's glory: Paco (the athletic one) jumped very high and chewed one of the dye bottle caps to oblivion. The powdered dye was all over the kitchen, and was stamped down by doggie feet. Lots and lots of pink/red prints covered my cream floor.

    I was horrified. The kitchen is cleanable, but my dog's lungs are not! I swooped them up right away for multiple showers. It was shocking to see how much color came out of their fur! (especially their hindquarters!!!). The kitchen was mopped multiple times.

    All appears to be well, but the dogs to have a few pink patches-- and I'm still worried about their wee little lungs.

  20. Well, in organic chem lab in college I accidentally injected myself with the nitrogen power injector. I needed a Tetanus shot and that was about the extent of the damage.

  21. As for the toxic substance, I had a similar experience as you when I was a kid. Dropped the thermometer in the bathroom sink and had some fun rolling it around in there, then rinsed it down!! Eeek! Who knew. Well, I'm still here so either I didn't get poisoned, or it helped me last this long!

    I suggest that as a great-aunt, it would be traditional to give the appearance of being just the tiniest bit crazy! I always remember the relatives of mine who acted a little looney--they were the fun ones! Be sure to wear crazy prints all mixed together, and act age-inappropriate at all times while around the cute little great-nephew, take him to fun places when he's old enough, and laugh a lot! :)

  22. Oooops! Sorry I misread! You have a great NIECE! My apologies for the gender confusion on my know what I mean....:p Anyway, all of the above still applies! You might also consider enabling yarn addiction early on.... ;)

  23. Sadly, I have a long history of mishandling chemicals. The first time was in grade five, when I picked up a test tube of what I thought was water and for some reason took a big sniff. It was ammonia.

    This was only the beginnning - I've broken at least three mercury thermometers, and while our lab was using sulphuric acid in one of tests, I ruined many, many pairs of jeans. And I constantly splashed myself with silver nitrate. That one was tricky, because nothing showed up on your skin until it was exposed to sunlight, and then everywhere the nitrate touched turned brown. The worst, though, was the time I was stupidly filling a burette dispenser above my head, and my hand slipped, and silver nitrate rained all down my side.

    It's probably good that I moved on to a desk job.

    Congrats on your Great-Aunt-dom!

  24. The mishandling of dangerous chemicals: When i was in the Navy, not in for a way junior enlisted person you have to do all the dirty and boring jobs. I was stationed in an squadron and assigned to a team to wash an airplane (yup they get washed, better aero dynamics...seriously)...well we are supposed to wear this weird sort of rain gear...special boots...googles, gloves the whole bit....bit the stuff to wash the planes is really toxi and burns the skin...well, I am really short and have small feet and hands ...and at the time was pretty the smallest of the small of all this safety gear didn't fit well and it was all heavy and uncomfortable to wear....sooooo i just put the top of the rain gear on, the googles and some are supposed to also to tape down the sleeves so water and the soap doesn't get into it....anyway starting washing away and soon the waters/soap mixture was getting into everything clotes became sopping wet....also with the first 30 minutes of the job...i started feeling itchy...and with in the hour i felt burning all superversor pulled me off and they had to call the medical haz mat team in...who took me to base medical..where two core took me into a decom shower ...they got in it with me...then with these funny little brushes that look like large toothbrushes with very flexible metal bristle began to scrub me from scalp to the bottoms of my feet with some really smell solution.....they had to get the soap out because it not only burned my skin but i had little thin tiny cuts all over....and I do mean all over....when it was over I couldn't stand for anything to touch my skin...clothes, nothing at all....I was out on sick leave for a week and on pain killers...when I got back I got in trouble...big trouble for not following safety guidlines....but a couple of good things came out of it: 1. smaller gear was purchased so that it would fit others. 2. I learned a good lesson as to why those safety rules are in place 3. Since I had such a severe allergic reaction, it was put in my record and I never had to wash another plane again for the rest of my career (shouldn't celebrate that but well it was a yuky job that no ever wanted to do) 4. I never got in trouble again for anything, and retired with a shinning record! lol

    on being a cool Aunty:
    well when my niece was little, I would take her to the toy store, department store or walmart's toy section and would turn on every noise toy or game that i could and squeeze everything that makes noise! lol Also, I own a car that is painted as a rainbow, she and her brother love to tell their friends..."my aunt is this super cool artist person and drives a rainbow car" they love it....what does embarress the though is when myh sister and i are out with them somewhere and we begin to sing silly song loud in public...hehehe

  25. As a Great Aunt, it is imperative that you wear very brightly colored lipstick for which to smooch your great nephew/niece with. And you simply MUST start pinching cheeks, it really cannot be avoided.

  26. Congrats on being a Great Aunt
    Mmmm the only thing I can think of at this minute is that at one time I was a fanatic at hand stripping old furniture ,doors anything made with wood that was painted and I never wore glove so that I am sure I burnt of my finger prints for quite some time.
    My most fav great Aunt was very much an eccentric and I totally loved her. She was the one who wore the wildest colours that didn't match but were each in their own right lovely. She ALWAYS carried a HUGE handbag, more like a carpet bag.She was the one that taught me all about sex via various books and would then ask if I had any questions, no such thing as embarresment with her(she used to be a midwife ) and gave me my first illicit drink of sherry. Her house was full of the most intersting objects and it was a delight to explore her home. She was also the one I would run to when I knew I had done something wrong and was afraid to tell my Mam . She was fair on the one hand but could also be very firm and lay down the law and I knew better than to cross her. I was the only girl amongst four brothers and my great Aunt Helen lived just down the road and she has sadly gone now but I still own some of those treasured items she left for me and I hope that I too have inherited some of her qualities . I am looking forward to being eccentric, some would say
    I am partially there !!

  27. These are scary! Let's see - once I sucked up pen ink (who knew those pens with holes in the top actually worked like straws??) - terribly disgusting, hopefully not super toxic.. I inhaled strong HCl (I was diluting it and failed to do this in a fume, I don't know what was wrong with me). I regularly use a strong lab soap without gloves. I sniffed a sample that came in (should've been charcoal, was actually something vile growing...) and had a headache for an hour. We used to pump hexane fumes into the room we work in (not a good idea).

    And liquid nitrogen fun abounds here - once we stuck a grapefruit in a large dewar full and threw it into the street (glad we didn't hit anyone...don't know how I'd have explained that to the police).

    At another lab, we used chloroform to remove sharpie from a white board. It works (but really, should you risk it?).

    Luckily for most of us, mercury thermometers are extremely rare these days. Most are just dyed red. But I'll still stick with digital :)

  28. Wow, washing that navy plane will be hard to top! (1) I can't say I've never mishandled things... that sodium hydroxide wasn't dissolving fast enough so I set the spinner to super fast. Oops, splashed out, I still have a minute scar from where a drop touched me....I did the bleach/ammonia thing once, don't remember why...I'm sure I broke a mercury thermometer once, I seem to remember trying to get up the're not looking for odd recreational college antics? (2) two of my great aunts have been on my mind lately. They had ENORMOUS beehive hairdos. One was a widow (the elder), and the other a spinster. They were always 'the aunts'. Oh, and before they left a visit, they'd apply lipstick before kissing all us kids goodbye.

  29. oh--one time while working at a cafe, i mixed bleach with a clening product (which i think contained ammonia).
    it's one of those "don't ever do this" things that's written on the back of the can, but i was young and stupid.
    it made crazy fumes that made me feel sick and lightheaded--did i mention i was alone in the cafe?? almost passed out and had customers waiting.
    silly me.

  30. I don't usually do too much dangerous mixing, but I can tell you a bit about my eccentric great aunt to give you a few tips.

    - Ferment your own wine in the basement. Serve it to guests, even at noon, in pint-size glasses.

    - Polyester double-knit pants are a must.

    - Hoard all new clothes that you've been given as gifts. Save them for good.

  31. I spilled several drops of silver nitrate on myself in high school chemistry class - my fingers were spotted brown for quite awhile after that as a result! I thought this would be a pretty unique toxic chemical experience, but I see from the comments that it happened to vaedri too.

    And if you're anything like MY great-aunts were, you'll be wild & crazy, eccentric & fun. Congrats on the grand-niece!

  32. Great Aunts I have some experience of. (I had 9 or so of them (may have missed one or 2 out)

    Not so much appearance but one thing that is really important is to make sure you always give presents that demonstrate how totally out of touch with the great niece's or nephew's real age. eg. a jigsaw suitable for a 4 yo should be given to a 10yo. *sigh*

  33. Well, I managed to get radioactive gallium citrate in my hair. And I stuck a large gauge needle from a reconstituting gun (shoots sterile water in vials of powdered meds) clear through my left thumb right next to the main joint. And I drank MD 2020 once. On purpose. For those of you that aren't familiar, that is one wine that ought to be classified as hazardous, so I declare that it counts:)

    As for the Great Aunt thing, I always thought that should be the exotic (slightly eccentric) world travelling aunt that brings back odd presents from her adventures and drinks really good champagne. And, that would be more fun for the both of you!

  34. I have several great aunts, but the one I remember told me to forget about the other ones and only remember her because she was the greatest aunt! So you should make sure to point out that the other great aunts are great, but you're the greatest!

  35. You need to wear clothing that is at least 2 decades out of style, red lipstick that is smeared, and of course sensible shoes that may or may not match anothing else you are wearing.

  36. 1) Most of my mishandling of dangerous chemicals has involved using paints and glues in places that weren't properly ventilated. I was pretty careful during chemistry class.

    2) Wear brightly-coloured clothing with large floral patterns, bright red or orange lipstick, and too much perfume. Pinch cheeks and remark about how much your grand-niece has grown, even if you saw her the week before.

  37. Anonymous5:28 am

    Can I tell other people's funny tale of doofusdom, even though I was only a witness?
    When I was a bit younger, my then-bf Chris and I had a flatmate Andrew. Andrew, having been to a cooking school in Thailand once, was instructing Chris on the use of chilis in cookery with special reference to OH&S iss-ewes (i.e. washing your hands after you handle them!). Said iss-ewes Andrew then immediately forgot, and traipsed off to the loo.
    He turned the oddest colour about 2 minutes after he got back.
    Later, when I was in a research lab, our supervisor knocked a tin of bromocresol blue onto the floor at fifth hand (he leant on something, which pushed a second thing, which bumped a third etc) and then frantically looked for someone else to blame after he turned the entire lab blue. We were blowing blue snot (sorry) for about a fortnight.
    I've never done anything spectacularly doofite, just ordinary dumb, like spilling phenol on the bench and forgetting it was there, then leaning on it. Ow.
    On great-auntdom - be an Embarrassment to the child's parents, but not to the child. They'll thank you for it!

  38. I've handled a bunch of dangerous chemicals in chemistry; that and my high school science class had gas leaks and exploding fluorescent lights all the time. The building was 100+ years old, and condemned by the time I hit grade 12.

  39. kitkatknit9:03 am

    When I was a junior in high school (about 374 years ago) the chemistry teacher had us clean out our equipment and supply drawers for the year, a day before prom. You guessed it, both my hands turned black!!! I'd hadn't done a good job cleaning some glasswear the last time we used it and I got silver nitrate all over my hands. It does not come off. It turns your skin black. The school nurses office called poison control who said the only thing I could do to lesson the stain was to wash my hands in a bleach solution. Lovely grey hands for prom. Crap timing on my part.

  40. Oh, I'm embarrassed to say it but once in organic chemistry lab I accidentally inhaled fumes from concentrated sulfuric acid. We were using it to extract caffeine from coffee. Wow, that burned the inside of my nose. And while mercury is dangerous, it's not going to kill you in small doses. It's the dimethyl mercury you have to watch out for.

  41. Cake for breakfast; well creamed and sugared 'adult' drinks--coffee and tea.

    Being a G-A is an excuse to bring our lace shawls (or knit a few). Over your regular clothes--shawl over T-shirt). Practical shoes. With funky, handknit socks.

    Be yourself-as you are not the parent, you can listen without getting excited (aka really worried or freaking out); you can present opposing viewpoints (more liberal or consevative than anyone else) without fear.

    You can knit with abandon--starting with darling adn wonderfu lbaby things and progressing to sweaters chosen and colored to the wee one's specifications. Things that Mum and Dad wouldn't choose or purchase.

    You can ALWAYS make time (after all, you are younger adn more cool than a grandparent or a parent).

    Learn to skateboard or surf.

  42. Would this include the time that I leaned on the edge of the lab bench in organic chem lab and burned holes in the front of my jeans or the time in one of my pharmacy class labs when I inhale hydrogen chloride vapor off my reaction flask?

  43. We used to be fascinated, chasing little mercury balls from broken thermometers all over, trying to squish 'em.

    My favorite great aunt had all of HER mother's china -- which I'd covet -- and all the old pictures. She was really quite young -- flower girl at her sister's (my grandma's) wedding -- and always so pretty. She and her husband were the only relation I had who were farmers (they still live on the farm, but don't do the work anymore) -- it was always so much fun to visit them.

    How do you feel about farming?

  44. I've been guilty of the bleach and ammonia in a poorly ventilated area. But too much cleaning with harsh chemicals has left me very sensitive, so I either don't clean ;) or use earth- and people-friendly cleaners.

    As for being a great aunt, I bet you already are. But you could have lots of knitting needles and projects lying around in those old-timey project bags.

  45. i know i'm too late for the contest, but i gotta say, the best way to be a great-auntie? pinch her cheeks, give her lots of kisses, and exclaim in a high, eardrum-piercing voice, how just DARLING she is, and how much she resembles her gran.

    that will do it!


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