Saturday, December 30, 2006

Here are my Noro purchases in one to three ball lots, from the left Transitions (which is wool, cashmere, alpaca, angora, camel, kid mohair and silk, which sounds like it's what was swept off the floor at the end of a day and whose color mix is about as homogeneous), Silk Garden, and Shinano which is wool & silk and gets my vote for the most interesting without being exotic. When one has limited opportunities to fondle Noro one can't say, oh I know what these feel like and I'll buy this. I have numerous one-ball Noro hat patterns and my vote goes with the Shinano which I also have 3 balls of. I might make a hat for A out of the Silk Garden, and look for matching/coordinating yarn for mittens. The Transitions is definitely the softest but I don't think would make decent mitten as it is spun too loosely and would either not last or would felt unevenly.

At the left is the ball of grey wool from the spotted fleece. I mentioned before that part of it was much lighter grey than the rest.

Before sitting down to blog I vacuumed the living room and both bedrooms and changed the linen on both beds. I would do massive amounts of laundry except the forecast is 80% for thunderstorms this afternoon, which I am hoping is right but am not willing to do laundry to prove. Since the cricket finished in 3 days instead of 5 I will have to turn to videos or DVDs or take naps. Most folks who are out and about are tracking down post-Christmas bargains and since there is nothing I want to buy, I stay home and listen to crested pigeons saying "Hoo!". They nest in the tree between the 2 houses and I watch the males display to the females each year. A variation on feral pigeon displays involving puffing your self up and making funny hooting noises.It must work as a new lot of crested pigeons appears every year. We also have baby magpies, blackbirds (introduced) and rosellas. There might be a willy wagtail nesting in the enormous rose bush that occupies the corner of the back yard but I am not sure since this would be the first year and I'm not sure what to look for.

Friday, December 29, 2006

All this blogging when not working. Today I put new linings in the living room drapes that face east and get the first summer sun. Somehow the lining developed mysterious holes when the Imp was a kitten. She tended to see shadows and try to catch them. The sheers on the front windows need replacing as well but they are only decorative whereas the liners are thermal protection.

I listened to the podcast from The Yarn Shop which in this instance is in Powatan, Virginia, a suburb of Richmond and a place I recognize from driving past signs directing to it a million times between Washington and Petersburg in an earlier life. The owner of the yarn shop in question also raises cashmere goats so that input is of value as well. Another site of interest I stumbled upon is also from a previous life, the Raleigh News & Observer which has a fibre column in their Lifestyle section.

To continue our weird weather we have continued cool weather and this afternoon had a thunderstorm with buckets of rain, and quite a bit of hail. It is prefereable to 40C and will help the zucchini I am grooming to be a blimp reach a size to become pickles. However, the blueberry folks informed me when I called that they had total crop failure and there would be no blueberries this year. Gnashing of teeth because I LOVE blueberries. I think I have just about finished off the rest of the berries by making berry jelly.
If you can't tell, I'm having one of those wired in the middle of the night spells possibly brought on my too much chocolate after a 4 month gap. I have been looking at the Harlot's Socks that rock and think that the sock wool I just ordered from the Etsy shop of Yarnahoy is at least as striking and easier for me to get. I also added a button to my bog template for knitting from your stash. Easy for me to say as with the exception of some summer cottony things I have only added to my stash in sock wool and handspun. Therefore promising to knit from my stash is a relatively painless promise. I am actually lusting to knit from my stash. I have finished the cardigan's sleeves and have half a pocket lining done then on to the fronts. Math4knitters clued me into worksheets for doing the planning for a top down raglan sleeve pullover so that's up there although I am not sure that my first top down should be for the Bear. He can be very agreeable until it's too late when he announces it binds across the shoulders or something similar when I've already reached the end.

It was equally spooky to look at my blog stats and find referrals from a French discussion group that's discussing Robertas. I was beginning to freak. I MUST got to bed!!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Found it! Sticks & String. And a fun lot of more Aussie podcasts. Now I don't have to do my own especially because I don't sound Australian, do I?

I got my book on Lithuanian braids which are very colourful but look like they are woven out of extremely fine warp--thread-like almost. There is no way I can do an authentic replication but the design elements and colours are vibrant and interesting altho I will probably stay away from the swastikas, no matter how ancient the symbology.

I also meant to comment on how interesting His Majesty's Spanish Flock is.Apparently English sheeps' wool was washed on the sheeps' back before shearing and this techniques did not work with the Spanish sheep because of the heaviness of the grease they carried in their fleece. The Spanish washed the fleece in hot water after shearing and this added to the cost of preparing the wool for processing in England. Some comments on how the merinos were not used to the rich wet pastures around Windsor and suffered from various foot complaints because of this shows how they had been adapted to the high and harsher landscapes of Spain. I have just gotten to Sir Joseph Banks receiving the first wool from the merinos raised by Captain MacArthur in New South Wales (1801)and judging the rams' wool to be equivalent to the Spanish rams' fleece from the King's flock. His judgement was that the production of fine wool would be a good commodity for the new colony. Two hundred years later and our economy is tied to wool in both good and bad ways. The drought is having an adverse effect on the ability of wool-growers to maintain production and in some cases even maintain their breeding stock. From other viewpoints, we have been trying to grow wool in areas that are marginal in terms of agriculture and this is Mother Nature swatting us back into place (altho she should take it out on the rice and cotton growers as much as woolgrowers). I have also just read the Australian Bush Conservancy's report the numbers of feral animals removed from their reserves is staggering. Horses, camels, donkeys, cats, foxes, wild dogs in the thousands. The good news is that the threatened species bounce back (usually) when given protection from ferals
I have recovered my cardigan's sleeve back to almost the casting off part. Hooray! I sooooo hate reknitting. I rewarded myself by flickcarding and then drumcarding some of the feelthy fleece. I wound off the plied yarn from the spotted fleece so that I can now (or almost now) can ply the dragon hair and start spinning something besides camel down. I listened to Math4knitters podcast while I carded and I like it a lot, possiby because there is very little math in it and Laura is always saying how she couldn't learn math while growing up. This inability to grasp math, which in my case is really limited to arithmetic since I got excellent grades in all non-arithmetic math genres, is the one thing that stands between me and designing stuff and why I tend to tweak patterns rather than strike out on my own. I don't even trust that I have managed to figure out what numbers need to get added together or whatever, so a calculator doesn't necessarily help. I have used sweater design software and I like it for very basic designs. I will probably use it to design the jumper for the Bear which is next on my to-knit list and since he's so ginormous it will take forever and he won't allow me to do cables or anything to relieve the monotony, claiming they are too "fussy" whatever that equates to in bear land.

I went out and found more knitting podcasts to try altho I cannot find the one I have heard reference to several times which is supposedly from an Aussie bloke who knits. If somebody out there knows the name of it please tell me. I caught up on my podcasts of Lingua franca yesterday as well. Podcasting seems to be fraught with technical difficulties so I haven't jumped in yet. I also don't think I have a very attractive speaking voice which is one thing when I'm lecturing about something I know more about than my audience and quite another when I am supposedly entertaining (as I guess podcasts are supposed to be). I whipped off the article that has been percolating at the back of my brain for some months about the Bendigo wool show and shipped it off the Fiber Femmes, hopefully in time for their deadline which I missed several times already. I don't have much of a clue as to what my readership base is with this blog aside from a few identifiable friends so I don't know whether anything I do is really of interest to the average knitter. There's lots I could say about things like, my philosophy of socks, what the attraction is with raw fibre (occasionally), why I blog instead of knit sometimes (like now). I do resent knitting podcasts that are short on knittting content and unless someone lives a very exciting life, I don't much care for blogs without a strong underlying theme. About the only exception I will make to that generalization is Crazy Aunt Purl who is just so out there you have to love her or hate her.

It is quickly approaching my afternoon nap time. For some reason I get exceedingly sleepy around 3.30-4PM and sometimes manage to keep a nap at bay but today isn't going to be one of those days. And I got all the way here without vacuuming or laundry either. Shame on me for being a slothful slob who willl someday be eaten alive by dust bunnies.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I hope you all survived the holidays intact and healthy. I discovered that I was very much dependant on the anti-histamines I had been taking to be able to breathe at night. I forgot to get them and wondered why I was sleeping poorly, why my nose was running constantly, why I had a headache unrelated to the the volume of chocolate I ate. Then I realized what I had stopped taking because I thought it expendable. Out on Boxing Day to find an all-hours chemist and now my nose is no longer dripping and I slept through the night. It seems that almost all my Christmas presents were cat related for reasons that are hard to fathom. I especially like the cat craft book's suggestion that you save up all your cat's hair, learn to spin, and then knit the result.

Today my loyal postie brought my book on Lithuanian sashes whose photos and diagrams are fantastic, even if I can't read the text, and a package of ebay fibre: wool & mohair for socks and gorgeous silk. While I am dying to spin, I must knit furiously as I discovered almost at the end of the second of the cardigan's sleeves that I had started off with the wrong number of stitches. I had to rip all the way back to the ribbing and re-knit and I am almost back where I started from. I have reloaded my iPod with podcasts, there is cricket on TV so I must knit like the wind (apologies to Breand's podcast intro).

Friday, December 22, 2006

I mentioned that I listen to podcasts while I work or, as this morning, while I iron. Two of my favourite podcasts are Here on Earth from Wisconsin public radio, and Bush Telegraph from our own ABC public radio. Both transport me into environments that I would otherwise never visit, whether it's harvesting wild rice in the Northern hemisphere or listening to a carer of an husband with Alzheimer's in rural Australia. I encourage anyone who can afford the most basic MP3 player to download and listen if streaming is too tempermental in your locale.

I just forked over the $$ to sign up for the weaving course next term at the ANU. I look at the beautiful things other people weave and hope I can at least step on the lowest rung of this new ladder, so that I may on the future create things as basic as placemats and tea towels for our home. I don't think I will ever run out of things to learn and practice so that I will keep my brain alert as I grow older. Apparently that seems to be one of the keys in keeping healthy mentally in your later years; a mind that is still learning and active is less prone to dementia and (especially close to me) depression. Maybe even if nobody reads this blog, at least it will keep my brain ticking over, trying to find the right turn of phrase to capture what's going on between my ears.

Friday, December 15, 2006

On knitters' podcasts. I have trialed about 5 different knitting podcasts over the past 2 months and I am sorry to report that only one (Brenda's) is worth regular listening. Most of the others are either full of random thoughts like "I knit a red hat. I don't know who I'm going to give it to." or hysterical giggling at in-jokes that the rest of the world doesn't get. Or noises off the microphone that either prompt a long explanation or something disrupting the course of the podcast. Don't these people have notes before hand so they know what they are going to talk about? If they lose their place or get interrupted, can't they pause the recording and perhaps rerecord the bit where they fumbled around looking for the notes? Maybe it irks me (one of my favourite MIL expressions) because I used to do a lot of public speaking in my previous job and I learned to speak in complete sentences, to enunciate, and to talk at a speed and volume that were easy for people to hear and understand. People who do podcasts should learn to do the same things. I toyed with the idea of doing a podcast that was less cutesy and perhaps more witty and definitely more on-topic but I'm not sure what I'd cover that isn't in my blog already. (and as a naturalized Australian, I get annoyed when people in the US find our vocabulary in some way cute or even worth calling attention to in any way; the worst side of Americans is implying if not outright declaring that the American way is "right" and all others are quaint or wrong. Somewhere along the line I have morphed from being seen as a tourist into being treated as a permanent resident since I am no longer asked how long I'm here for, but instead how many years I've lived here) I am cutting back on the podcasts I listen to and want to listen to more music.

I made the third batch of berry jam today and this time I tried it by the seat of the pants method with bulk pectin and a guess at proportions. I am following the knitting tradtion that ignores all the yarn manufacturers warnings printed on patterns that if you use any yarn but that specified "your results may be unsatisfactory." When I first started knitting that instruction terrified me, especialy because I have a lot of old knitting patterns for yarns no longer made. Now that I have handspun I know that you are your own designer and anything goes. My first project involving hand spun is one the inkle loom as pictured on the right. While I know it's nothing special, it's all mine, from raw fleece to spun yarn to dyed and now woven. The colours are an interesting mix and nothing at all like what I was aiming at but they work, I think. I have only woven about 8" of a rather long warp and I have lots more yarn dyed. As I said earlier, I intend to weave enough to make a tote-style bag. English Leicester has such a luster it almost glows but is definitely high on the prickle factor so I might add some leather to the handles, and will definitely line it as anything sharp would poke a hole in it. The inkle loom is C-clamped to a little rolling kitchen work table with a ceramic tile top, one small drawer and wire baskets below full of crochet cotton at the moment.

One of the great frustrations in my life healthwise is forcing myself not to do things I want to do. I made jam this morning, which involved standing a bit. I would like to put the ornaments on the tree but that also invoves standing and if I did that my legs would be useless (i.e., in great pain) for at least one day. So I force myself to sit down, do computer stuff, weave a bit, watch things I've taped from the past month of TV, etc. It is also cool and damp today (it rained last night) and would be an excellent time to do gardening stuff but that's standing work too (I can't kneel). There is still the whiff of smoke in the air and things look bad in eastern Victoria. I keep thinking of that for our potential rural lifestyle.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

ARGH. Headache, legs ache, generally want to retreat to my bed but even lying in bed makes different places (my back) hurt after a while. I managed to get the Christmas tree up and lights and garlands on yesterday but haven't got any ornaments on. The Imp only tried to eat the tree, but that's not unusual. I have to go pick up my new contact lenses so maybe after that. Missed another day at work but have accumulated flex time to cover. Just trying to focus my eyes hurts.

After a few quite cool days it's hot again. I must sit down with the Bear and prepare an emergency escape package during fire season so I don't have to think about that if we do get a scare. I made 2 batches of mixed berry jam, one with reduced sugar. It set but tastes different. More like fresh berries and less sweet? Hard to put my finger (or tongue) on what's different.

I finished one sleeve on J's cardie and one of the Bear's grey socks and have cast on the second. I've woven about 6" on the inkle loom and am somewhat satisfied with the results. I won the sash book on ebay so I expect some new ideas. The current project is the first almost serious inkling--that is,not just playing to see how it works. Since warp and weft are equal in weight it's not really warp faced weave but the colours are nice. Photos to follow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This is what the Imp looks like when it's 35C (ca. 95F) as it was yesterday afternoon. The air was full of smoke from a bushfire 50 kms to the west. Then a front went through and at midday (noon) today it is by my thermometer 14F or about 54C and I'm wondering if I need to put on a heavier top or just keep cuddling the Imp who is curled up on my left arm purring. The limas were loving the hot weather and they are probably are wondering what happened to the sun.

The only knitting news to report is that I am de-stashing my books and have been ruthless in getting rid of those I know I won't use or have enough info in other books that I use frequently. They are all up on ebay (Australia). I have bought some bits & pieces of Noro on ebay to knit one ore more one-ball Noro hats. I love the colours and fibre blends of Noro but it just costs too much to knit an entire garment out of it. I am down to the toe of the first of the Bear's grey socks and am reinforcing the toes with nylon in addition to the nylon in the yarn.

More progress on cleaning out the *stuff* infesting the house. Any step is a step in the right direction. Because of the $$ involved with my eyes I will not be tracking down plasterers any more till after the holidays. The Bear bought his own Christmas present of an iPod nano. It's tres cute and electric blue. But it's so tiny I would surely lose it. Mine is an "old" 30G. and it's not half full!

Came home a little early because of developing headache. Not sure whether it's eyes or a morning spent on authority work. After I eat I will lie down.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rules for people with kerataconus: Make good friends with a reliable optician/optometrist, one who is not terrified that you have a corneal irregularity or frightened of fitting RGP (rigid gas permeable) lenses on a graft. There are a lot of optometrists who would rather deal in fashion lenses (and charge accordingly) and can't believe how frequently your vision changes. When I was first diagnosed, the ophthalmologist I was seeing at time once practically refused to fit me with lenses because my eyes would be changing. So, you are going to leave me really visually impaired just because I'll need new lenses in 6 months? Make good friends also with an ophthalmologist/eye surgeon for the same reasons. Some surgeons are more comfortable dealing with cataracts and glaucoma and even eye injuries but kerataconus may be something they studied in eye-doctor-school but can be reluctant to do the sometimes radical things to your eyes. The doctor I was referred to when I got to Australia freaked when he detected a blood vessel approaching the graft. If the vessel reached the graft the cornea could be rejected and I'd have to get a new graft. He then told me two things I found out later were false. There was a SEVEN YEAR waiting list for corneas and once you rejected one the powers that dispense the corneas would be reluctant to give you another. So he told me to take the lens I had out of the offending eye and never wear a lens in that eye again, thereby causing me to be essentially blind in one eye. I asked for a second opinion and he sent me not to another doctor in Canberra but to Sydney, where that doctor only confirmed what I believed and that it was safe to wear lenses once the irritation that had caused the original problem had subsided. Back in Canberra the quack (my term of endearment for this Dr.) removed all the stitches from my graft in one session without anesthetic and sent me on my way. Ow is a very large understatement. Fortunately the Library was offering free eye check-ups for anyone doing computer-based work and I went to a different optometrist. When I saw on their list of specialties kerataconus I practically danced for joy. Now I have my eyes monitored and trust them completely and they referred me to a different eye surgeon who is fantastic.

Why am I going on about this today? I have been noticing some deterioration in my vision, both distance and close. I wear reading glasses for close work and the lenses seemed out of sync; what was clear at X inches for one eye was not clear for the other eye at the same distance. So I saw said wonderful optometrist today and I was not losing my mind (one of the things that has made me depressed is straining to see) and my vision has changed and I need new contacts and new glasses. So I'm looking at probably $1200 in eye stuff soon. I will be getting new lenses made by Nikon on my glasses that are sort of bifocals in that they grade from looking straight ahead at a computer screen to a stronger grade if I'm looking down to read (or knit). It will mean going back to wearing full size glasses for a lot of what I do at the Library and perhaps at home too. While I've hated wearing glasses for eons, I hate not being able to see worse. One of the many things I resent about my father's tight purse is that he deemed contact lenses for me as too expensive and I later found out that my eyes probably would not have deteriorated so fast had I been wearing contacts from an earlier age (they were one of the first things I bought when I had a real job). Penny wise, pound foolish.

Hot and dry again. All normal TV has left the screen for the silly season, where we get bad American shows that were cancelled or snippets of good ones or other unwatchable things. So I have been watching Bangkok Hilton which was a mini-series Nicole Kidman did when she was very young, and Season 6 of Gilmore Girls which might get shown here, except they stopped showing it in the middle of the 5th season last summer so who knows what they'll do this year. Foxtel has just added the Scifi Channel so there's lots to watch there. I saw the very first episode of the X Files last week. I am not a fan but it was kinda amusing to the the two before they really knew each other. I was quite cheery at work yesterday due entirely to loading Cheap Trick and Def Leppard onto the iPod and I came home and loaded all the remaining Def Leppard. Some reviewer once called them "the thinking person's heavy metal band" and I must agree. I was dancing in the stacks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I have been totally negligent about my blog. On the one hand there is very little new stuff to post about. I am knitting grey socks for the Bear, J's cardigan, spinning Dragon hair, not inkle weaving. As well, I have been driven nuts by the black dog for a week. For those of you who had not heard this euphemism before (and I hadn't before I came to Oz), I have been depressed. But enough about me! This blog is supposed to be about.... me? I have no reason to be depressed bar the usual. Pain, mess, barking dogs, noisy neighbours (why do the girls next door have to converse at such a volume after I've told them already I can hear every word they say since their living room window is 3 meters from my bedroom window?). The nice couple across the street had a screaming fight (not the first) Friday evening with much yelling of the F word at the tops of their voices in the front yard, each telling the other to leave the house, ending with him throwing stuff in the ute and driving off followed by her playing some dreadful hip--hop type music so loud it set up a sonic vibration making their windows rattle. And all of this with 2 (3?) small children at home. I made nominal progress in our house, with the hedgetrimmer having left the building finally. I have been unable to find a plasterer yet as they either don't return messages, say they will call but don't, or say it's too far for them to drive. Canberra is not that big, folks. Why do people advertise if they don't want the work? Can I ask the newspaper to pull the ad because they don't really mean "no job too small"? And blaming it on Christmas when it's the first of the month is absurd.

Anything new? I have lima beans sprouted! I laid a new drip hose last night as the old one had spuing a leak and discovered limas. Wrestling a hose which has spent its formative months coiled in a circle to lie flat is not fun for me or the hose. We are due to go on more stringent water restrictions in a week or so because it hasn't rained, but drip systems are allowed. The possums have been eating my strawberries. They do not eat the other berries and I made the first batch of mixed berry jam on Sunday. I planted a miniature watermelon pair (yellow and orange) in the spot of the garden that has killed 4 different melon plants despite careful watering. I won't be sad if nothing becomes a melon but it's a waste of a great spot. I'll plant some silverbeet (swiss chard) there later in the season.

I plied the grey wool from the spotted fleece and got a bit short of a full (big) bobbin's worth. I want to spin more and knit less but J's cardigan is first priority followed by the grey socks. I am continuing to card the grey fluff and when I asked about how to get a more homogeneous batt was given the advice to flick card first before drum carding. Well, the result are much more satisfying but its's adding another whole laayer of work to the process and showing me how much short fibre is in this wool ( A LOT ) and I am again cursing myself for having invested so much effort already in this fleece when it should probably been composted. But the good fibre is silky and shiney and very soft. It's just the finding of the good wool....

I have bid on a book on ebay of Latvian sashes. In Latvian. I've seen some of the cotents of this book and I figure it will translate to the inkle loom. The last time this book was up nobody bid on it so maybe I'll end up with a totally useless bit of weaving junk. See how cheery I am?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Finally something worth blogging about. I got a call this morning (early for me, probably not for him) from one of my Polwarth breeders I wrote to and he told me that yes he does have fleeces. Not only does he hold a few fleeces back, but they are his show fleeces so they are going to be the best. Goody! I promised to call him when we get closer to the date.

That date is more certain now because I have confirmation from the Australian National University's School of Arts that the textile unit is going to hold their night class in weaving in the first term of 2007. 15 weeks of classes on Weds nights and is open to absolute beginners and I can bring my own loom and learn how to use it. I am excited not only because I have a small stash of weaving materials, but this a craft that I can see a lot going wrong if you don't know what your doing. Not that I know when I am going to find time in the scheme of things. It will be a good place to use handspun as well.

Speaking of which I have filled my mini Bosworth spindle with camel down singles and have wound them off on my ball winder. There seems to be a lot of strongly held but conflicting information on what to do with handspindled singles. I am going to try winding them onto a TP roll on my ball winder and ply them on the Roberta. At least some people do that so it's something in my comfort zone. It is really hard to stop myself spindling. I am keeping my nose to the grindstone of J's cardigan just so I can move on sometime to a different project. I always get a mid-project slump where I lose interest as the novelty wears off the the light at the end of the tunnel is distant.

This week's fibre delivery was dark grey shetland roving from Esthers's Place (in Big Rock, Ill.) which is absolutely gorgeous. It's called "Gray Flannel" and is luscious. She tucked in samples of ther other fibres and the Cormo is really nice and the Navaho Churro much softer than others I have felt. I have never actually felt pure Angora before and it certainly is soft. I've hear about the flyaway nature of the beast so I think I'll buy it already blended. The 50/50 Cheviot lamb and mohair looks like it would make good socks.

While surfing around looking for free patterns I found this on Crystal Palace's web site and, since I picked up 2 balls of Choo-choo (in pink) in the states last year, I thought that 6 more balls wouldn't break the bank so I ordered them from The Knitting shack which actually does not charge any shipping fees even to ship to Australia. I will certainly be back. Brenda had a link to a one-ball Noro hat pattern but I haven't been able to contact the pattern owner to buy it yet. As with many, Noro is just too expensive to consider for a full projuect (I saw an afghan that called for 21 balls of Noro) but a one ball hat is more like it. I bought a couple of Knitting Pure and Simple patterns especially the top down zip front number (not the bulky one) since I want to do top-down and I'd like somebody to hold my hand while I do it.

It continues to be beastly hot. Heat makes me sleepy. I made mango jam this morning since the Bear brought me a tray of mangos on Sunday. And the berries are starting to ripen so I see more jam on the horizon as soon as I get more sugar. Everyone raves over my jams which I don't see as special except they are made from absolutley fresh fruit. Since I use Sure-jell and not the old-fashioned boil-it-to-death technique which is the norm here, folks find it miraculous that my jam doesn't taste caramelized. The mixed berry is very popular as is zucchini pickle relish.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No text right now but I'll shower you with piccies. Left the back of J's cardigan. I've started the sleeves, had a crisis interpreting the instructions, now know what they are saying, and blithely knitted thru Pirates of the Carribean not following said instructions. Frog. Right is the last purchase of cotton sock yarn. The Regia from ebay and the Sockotta from the Yarn Barn. I think I have enough to keep my feet happy and since I have the Landsend mesh shoes to wear in summer my feet don't have to have socks on. P.S. they are on sale in their overstocks page. Mine are the slip-ons, not the ones with laces (I have high arches and laces hit me in the wrong place)
Right below are the red Jawoll socks with red toes where I ran out of yarn, centre are the grey socks for the Bear and left is the inkle loom warped. I have been given guidance by the spiiners group to spray the warp with hairspray to stop it sticking to itself.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pardon a small intermission in our regularly scheduled programming. I fell in the garden again on Monday afternoon and it really knocked the wind out of my sails. This time the Bear was home and eventually heard me yelling for help and came out and untangled me. I have felt very out of it and hurt all over since then so I will have to recover a bit more. No permanent harm done, just bruises. It's also very hot and very windy which makes me nervous after the bushfires we had a few years ago.

Monday, November 20, 2006

If you happen to read my blog in the past few days or this week, the weather pixie should have clued you in to the fact that summer has suddenly arrived. When I just looked it was 31C and 10% humidity. Welcome to summer in the nation's capital. This was the reason I didn't do something garden wise I meant to on the weekend, but instead bribed the Bear into moving his power-tool table/workbench out of the dining room by cleaning out the garage which was on my to-do list for some time. It was too hot to be out in the sun any way. I tried again to plant stuff on Sunday and it was even hotter so I retreated until the garden was mostly in shade. The possums are eating the tips off the berry branches so they got a spray of animal repellant. I eventually replaced 2 tomatoes that the frost killed and planted a few climbing limas. This is a trial run. Climbers are the only ones I can get here and let's hope they are edible when young, not just as dried beans. Another larger planting will follow as will replacing the cucumbers that succumbed to the last frost. How can you go from frost to 30C in the space of a week? The peas are over, the asparagus is done but strawberries are in and some of the "mixed berries" in prime territory are even starting to redden up.

I started knitting one of the sleeves for J's cardigan, knit some on the Bear's grey sox and spun some dragon hair. The inkle loom is warped (photo to follow) but I'm having trouble opening the shed because the wool wants to stick to itself. Research into methods to mitigate this problem is underway; apparently it is a common problem.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This was supposed to be the week I had off so I could get all sorts of things done: fibre work and garden work. Well, it's Friday and I have done precious little beyond the normal stuff of laundry and cleaning. I am sorta bummed out about that because I wonder if this is how retirement will go. I do have some mitigating circumstances. We have had the wildest weather in years. Sydney yesterday had it's lowest November temp in 101 years. We've had frosts twice this week. Before that we actually had a solid day of rain (accompanied by high winds). So a lot of the planting out of the tender crops like melons and limas did not happen and I may have to replace some tomatoes. We still had peas and I picked a small-ish bowl of strawberries. In general it's been incredibly windy due to a southerly change giving us a blast from Antarctica (while icebergs head towards New Zealand) which is not a common weather pattern for the second half of November.

Fibre work has seen the red socks finished (haven't sewn in ends yet) and a pair for The Bear started in Regia which is broadish stripes of shades of grey with a single row of fair isle white dots separating them. I have finished the back of J's cardigan. I spent Weds morning dyeing English Leicester because I have decided to weave a tote-type bag on the inkle loom. I was trying to think of something that wouldn't require 17 different dye batches and I could weave simply and remembered the idea of sewing bands together side by side to make a bag. I dyed 2 large skeins of EL (I always forget to measure or document anything) sorta randomly in Gaywool & Landscape dyes in Ice (which I thought was to be green going by the label but was actually blue), Tanbark, Fern, and Salmon Gum (diluted). I was hoping for a pinker tone from the Salmon gum by diluting it by about half but it's still pretty salmony. I dyed an smaller skein solid salmon for weft. I have 2 more large skeins of EL undyed. Of course I forgot to take photos of the yarn until I was winding it onto the ball winder so you'll have to wait till the loom is warped to see the colours. They are not stunning colours but I view this as an experiment in technique. I have more EL both unwashed and un-spun plus the kilo on bobbins from Long tops to I see more in the future. I carded a few batts of the grey formerly-filthy now-gossamer wool and need to try spinning some to see if these batts are spinnable or whether I need to do more fibre prep (flick-carding) before the drum carding. I tried keeping locks intact but they don't always stay that way through the carder. Still very soft. Looks like clouds thinking about raining.

Yesterday I went in for the NLA's social event of the rose & craft & food show as I was asked to demonstrate spinning again. Some people ignored me completely and some badgered me half to death about things I know nothing about (I do not know how to crochet and I can't teach you). But it was encouraging to see the division head and my group head both taking a close look at what I did perhaps understanding a little about my life outside work. Most people had never seen an electric spinning wheel or a handspindle so explaining the different kinds of fibre and what results you get (I spun the Dragon Hair on the Roberta and still adding to the copp of camel hair on the Bosworth). I hope to warp the inkle loom before I go back to work. Today my car is being serviced but I've given up on getting a newer one. I can put up with another year with this one, especially when the quote to fix a dent 2" long (if that) on the hatch lid was $1500.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I seem to have not had two seconds to rub together lately. I've been doing exciting things like vacuuming, washing the kitchen floor, ironing, planting out 8 more tomato plants (bringing the total to 16 which seems a bit excessive when I think about it). All I have left to plant is the melons and limas and since the only limas I could get here are climbers I have to figure out the right place for them. The peas are almost done so that leaves some nice sunny spots for melons. As I mentioned before, I love watching things grow and I love having veggies that were growin in the ground minutes earlier. I have to grow some monster zucchini because I have several friends addicted to my zucchini pickle relish. And tomatoes are pretty much unlimited on my diet. (not gloating, I have lost 10 kg)

This week's fibre purchase was Dragon hair from Lady Guenhwar which is gorgeous reds (call Garnet Dragon and no longer on her website). It have a bit of Firestar in it which I am not all that keen on but seems to be really popular these days so we'll see how it spins up.

When I did the laundry I discovered that The Bear is actually wearing thru the nylon reinforced toes and heels of yet another pair of socks. He tends to put one pair in the wash and immediately put back on the pair I just washed. I found the navy speckled ones in his drawer un-worn while he wears out other ones faster than I can knit them. So I went at the red socks for me with gusto and turned the heel on the second one last night. I got out some grey Regia which I bought as 50 gm balls when it was really 100 gm so I will have plenty for him without making not matching toes.

Then I could not find another set of size 1 DPNs. I had broken ones of 2 sets (see earlier post) so I bopped off online to buy more. I tried being a good little vegemite and buy in Australia but if there's somebody out there with bamboo DPNs in stock they are hiding it. It does me no good to think you have some in your store in Melbourne when it's Friday night in Canberra. I Googled, I looked at many web sites. Many won't ship outside the lower 48. One looked absolutely perfect (they even had cotton sock yarn) until I reached checkout and found they charged $35US to ship to Australia. For 2 sets of needles and a ball of sock yarn. I don't think so. So I spent another half an hour till I found somebody who actually shipped by weight. I will not rant again about shipping to Australia. I know we seem very exotic to Americans but we live in houses just like you and have husbands mowing the lawn (as I speak) and we get mail delivered just like you do. Brenda in Cast-on was talking about the global village of knitters and for kniting merchandisers to realize the world has changed and if they don't have an online presence, they are doomed. I can't agree strongly enough. Everything I buy except what I find at the sheep show or on occasion Lincraft, I buy online. I have no source for bamboo DPNs here. Most US or European yarn that is for sale here is double what it costs overseas. I know businesses have to make a profit but I simple won't but Opal sock yarn for $30 a ball (plus shipping which costs the earth here) when I can find in on ebay for half that, including shipping. Which is why I have packages arriving almost daily with fibre in them. I have no other means of getting the stuff I want.

I also was very brave and sent an actually writng on paper and put in an envelope with a stamp on it letter to 2 wool growers near Bendigo who are listed with the Aussie Polwarth sheep association asking if they sold fleeces to handspinners. That generally is the way to get fibre in quantity if you didn't see it at the sheep show. I also heard via the local grapevine that someone is setting up a mini-mill in NSW with prices half that of Longtops. Goodie.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Two lots of ebay Tussah silk roving arrived yesterday, one coral rose and the other turquoise/purple/blue. Spinning silk is another thing I intend to learn on the spindle. Meanwhile I am still spinning camel down. I even took it on a fire drill the other day and had a few moments of spinning instead of wasted time standing around in a car park. I try to spin a little after my lunch as well. It's still going to take a long time to spin 100 gms of camel down. It's like fluff with no staple that I can see.

Four more bags of fleece have been washed. I think I'll start to card some of what has been washed. I started out with almost 2 kg of raw fleece, so there is plenty to go around and I think I'll overdye it when spun.

My new BBBB is His Majesty's Spanish flock
: Sir Joseph Banks and the merinos of George III of England by H. B. Carter. I am increasingly interested in the agricultural side of sheep and why and how they have been bred and used through time. The beginning of this book covers the state of the English wool industry in the 18th century, which is not one of those things I know a lot about but ties in nicely with the breed swap being done through the spinning list. In doing my research for that I found that Karakuls, about which there is an article in this issue of Wild Fiber, are quite well represented in WA. Perhaps they mistake it for Uzbekhistan.

I have been spending a great deal of time and angst thinking about buying a new (or newer) car. There is nothing inherently wrong with my current car except that it is 8 years old and I want more safety features and things like power windows. I am due to test drive a new car tomorrow but I am currently leaning towards getting a newer Corolla with more bells and whistles. I have the primp up the old one before I can cross that bridge but I have already given it new tires and have it booked for service. Of course, just at this point in time I manage to encounter a pole in the NLA car park and shatter the plastic cover on the front turn signal.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I have been caught up in the daily grind and not posted. Doing things like laundry, ironing, vacuuming, not eating, etc. I also seem to have my diurnal clock shifting. I am no longer tired at normal bedtime. It's not insomnia. If I go to bed (with the normal dosages of pills) I sleep (and wake up in horrible pain but that's the way every day starts). I just seem to be going to bed later and later without feeling sleepy up to that point. Hence it's midnight and I'm still awake when ordinarily I'd be sound asleep by now.

Here is one of my spindles, the Bosworth mini, with some of my first truly lace weight luxury fibre, camel down.
This fibre is truly "down"; I can see no draftable length of anything but somehow it holds together via the magic of a spindle. I would never be able to get this to spin on my Roberta, or I might but only after many naughty words, much ruined fibre, and a great feelings of inadequacy. The beauty of spindle spinning with a fibre like this is you have total control over the drafting and twisting process at a minute level. I imagine if you were spinning something more straightforward like a wool with a reasonable staple length, you could easily learn to do it without even looking, and walking around spinning would be possible. For now I think I will reserve my spindles for luxury fibres that I can't spin any other way and perhaps sock yarns because I have not gotten the fineness of commercial sock yarn under my control reliably on the Roberta. We'll see how the spindle works out. I will have to disagree with those spindle makers who feel that putting a notch in the edge ruins the perfect symmetry and balance of a spindle. I love the notch and my first spindle, which had none, also had a habit of having the fibre sliding off mid spin (it also has a round hook which makes that even easier). I really have no interest in fancily painted or designed spindles. Some of the Goldings are quite pretty but since I want a light weight top whorl spindle (and everyone said the Bosworths were the best), I won't be buying any fancy painted ones.

On a lighter note, while shopping today I was staring into the shop in the Canberra Centre which carries all manner of Aussie souvenirs, gifts, doo-dads and art work and found Christmas tree ornaments. Since I usually have to buy things a year ahead because by the time I need to mail stuff the Christmas stuff hasn't appeared yet, I swooped on some adorable Aussie animal ornaments. The Bear insisted we have a wombat (sentimental attachment to the wombat) and I thought an echidna should stay with us too. Got the standard animal icons (koala, etc.) to send overseas and some special ones for special people. They also had an entire calendar of wombats which of course we had to get and proceeds go to saving orphaned womabts.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sometimes everything happens at once. Today I went to the PO to pick up a package got THREE, including all 3 spindles I ordered last week. So I am now the proud owner of a Kundert spindle which is a variation on the "A" design shown at left in different woods (walnut as base, with cherry, yellowheart & purple heart stripes), and 2 Bosworths, a mini and a totally adorable featherweight in purpleheart. I also picked up a nostepinne and a box of fabric from Keepsake quilting. The fabric is to fuel my quiltmaking desire so I get off my bum and actually work on it rather than just talk about it. Aside from making borders and separating strips for the quilt whose blocks are already pieced, I still want to make a Grandmother's flower garden, which would almost certainly have to be pieced by hand although I have no qualms about paying somebody else to do the actual quilting. I loathe the quilting process, which is why the half-made quilt is going to be quilted as I go. I love the piecing and choosing fabrics and watching the design come together but the all over quilting is too boring for words.

I have also been hitting Paypal hard getting some silk to practice on. I have a few very small bits, and quite a collection of other fine fibres from buffalo down to camel and this is the reason for the featherweight.

Week after next our Library system will be unavailable while a system change is installed and I have decided to take it off, to have my car worked on, to play in the garden and play with fibre. I have been incredibly tired lately, frequently coming home from work and sleeping until the news comes on. I should be washing the kitchen floor but I'm not.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I learned a lesson this week. Don't mess with your meds. Since my hysterectomy 5 (?) years ago I have been using an estrogen only patch, mainly to prevent hot flashes which were a real trial. From everything I read it seemed like an estrogen only replacement caused few problems especially on those of us who can no longer get cervical or ovarian cancer. However, there have always been warnings about taking hormone replacements indefinitely. Occasionally I forget to replace my patch weekly and I haven't had any instant reaction when I've done that lately. Earlier, I would instantly get hot flashes if I was off a day. So this week I thought I'd go without a patch and see how things went.

Badly. I got more and more depressed as the week progressed to the point that I was having suicidal thoughts by the end of the week. I felt like the world was pressing down on me and I wanted to get out of this existance any way I could. I could see no reason for this sudden and deep depression especially as I was doing things that I usually enjoy, like planting out my garden, which is one of the high points of the year. I love digging and watching things grow. I have been stiff but not more so than I would expect from the level of activity I've been doing. Last night I didn't even feel like eating and when I lose my appetite, you know something's wrong. The depression was getting to a point I cannot describe in words. So today I put on a new estrogen patch. Suddenly I feel like myself again, not like there's a cold lead ball in the middle of my chest. I know mood swings are estrogen related but I didn't feel like I was swinging, more like I'd jumped off a cliff and couldn't wait to hit bottom.

So I'm back now. And hungry.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's been a while I know. I have been particularly depressed lately and didn't feel like dishing it out to the world so I just kept my head down and went from day to day. Nothing terrible has happened; just one of those cycles when nothing feels fun or interesting and all I wantt to do is crawl into bed and sleep. I know this isn't healthy so I haven't, but I'm still not very cheery.

On Tues night J and the Bear and I went to a meeting at a local club about starting a Swans supporters chapter in Canberra. Apparently as long as the Kangaroos were supposedly taking root in Canberra (which they never accomplished and have now taken off for the Gold Coast), the Swans were not able to do anything official here. Now the situation has changed and they propose to set up a Canberra country membership which would entitle us to go to all the games they play in Canberra (2 regular season and some preseason) plus entry to a certain number of matches in Melbourne or Sydney. Sounds like a great idea altho I hope it's not at the club that this function was at because the food was awful. Depending on how the ongoing television rights battle goes we may be able to meet to watch matches together because our local TV network affiliate seems to think we aren't interested in Swans matches and therefore often doesn't air them which means you have to have cable to see them and there is some debate about where cable fits into the TV mix. The fixture for next year just came out and apparently the Weagles are not happy that the first game of the season is a rematch of the Grand Final but in Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

On the fibre front I have ordered 3 spindles and can't wait for their arrival. I mailed off today the samples on English Leicester for the breed swap. I started spinning the second bag of grey wool from the spotted sheep and discovered that the second bag is all very light grey while the first was mostly dark grey. Since they will be plied it should be interesting. I have knit some on the socks and some of the cardigan.

I am glad I didn't plant anymore that I did because we had frosts last week and the Bear covered the tomatoes I had planted. We ate our first peas last night. In attempting to uproot the dead apricot, whose roots are doing fine even if the branches are dead, I fell hard on my left side. For a while I thought I was going to have to lie there till the Bear came home because I was wearing some old jeans that were rather tight and I was having a horrible time trying to get my feet under me. Eventually I got one knee that hurt slightly less than the other one on the ground and used the Lemon verbena to pull myself up. I have lovely bruises and am quite stiff. Over the next few days I will plant beans and the rest of the crops. The Bear got a tiller attachment for our whipper-snipper and tilled a large weedy area for me which saves me a lot of effort.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

WHHOOOPPEEE! I finally glued the hook onto my beginner's spindle, dug out some browny-grey BFL from the stash and taught myself to spindle spin just now. Thanks to Grafton Fiber's excellent instructions, by the way. I can see how this could be very addictive and I can't believe how fine you can spin this way. I have been wrestling mightily to try and get my wheel spinning finer and more consistent and I was spinning very finely on the spindle in literally 15 minutes. I went and showed the Bear and then said, "Now, I'll have to start collecting spindles," and he just laughed. I want to do a lot more of this and ply the results and then try fine fibres that I know I won't be able to control with the Roberta. Even with zero take-up tension and set at its slowest speed it would still grab fibre out of my hands. This spindle business is so easy I can't believe I thought it would be too hard for this klutz to handle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

There are so many creative people out there doing creative things that I could spend all day reading blogs, getting ideas and end up accomplishing zip. It means I push myself too hard when I do sit down to do something and get myself into trouble. Result: I waste an entire day sleeping to recover, or get a headache, or my hands get so sore I can't even hold a book. Thus, mea culpa for not posting a decent entry in a long time. I will try and make up.

First, on the knitting front I mentioned J's cardigan. So here is what I've knit so far. The pattern is from Vogue Easy Knits and it's a long cardigan with pockets and a seed stitch rib. Volcano is a wool & acrylic blend. The true colours can be seen best in the yarn ball and not in the actual knitted garment. I have finished the first of the red socks and ran out of wool just at the end of the toe so if I didn't have such large feet there would have been plenty of yarn. The tips of my toes will be solid red from leftovers.

After two days of record high temperatures for October, it is cool again. Yesterday I tempted fate by planting 5 tomato plants 2 weeks early. I also planted 2 rows of beans and did a lot of weeding. Had a big feed of fresh sminach and asparagus for dinner (with leftover Indian from Friday night). The peas have pods and some of the berries are blooming.

I am spinning again, hurrah! I was so set on finishing S's jumper which I haven't mailed yet (tomorrow) that I didn't allow myself to spin. I am now spinning the carded batts from the spotted sheep. This is the part that I could not separate into solid black or solid white but greys and blends of the two. Some of it has a bit of grease left in but not much. What I have in my mind's eye is a zip-front jacket of the grey (I have lots more of that than of either black or white) with one white and one black sleeve. I just washed, de-pilled, and mathballed my wear-around-the- house cardigan which is one of the first things I knit. It was knit out of Cleckheaton 8 ply Tapestry in a blue/green colourway they no longer make. I have worn it to death in the past 6 or so years and it deserves a rest. The other possibility for the everyday cardigan is Chris Bylsma's Saturday morning which is a loose, shirt-tailed cardigan which is designed to be knit of different wools and I could use various hand-spun in the stash: grey, almost black, tan, etc.

Book report: BBBB is Red Dust by Ma Jian. Although it was written 20 years ago, I find it fascinating for showing the side of China Westerners never see. He travels through areas of China that would hardly be called tourist destinations (especially the wandering through the desert for days without water). He is a man without papers, without authorization to be traveling where he is, who has no income besides what he can pick up along the way, whether it is giving free-lance haircuts or drawing illustrations. He crashes with fellow poets, sleeps on floors, or 5 to a bed with smelly feet. You see the parts of China that are as far removed from the bright lights of Shenzhen as you can get, to where peasants live in huts around a well with a few sheep. This is one reason I won't bother trying to travel to China (even if my health permitted me); because I don't want to see the China the authorities want you to see but the real China, disgusting tho it might be. Ma meets the "coil remover" who removes the IUDs inserted by the government to stop the birth rate climbing, as well as all the minority peoples that have been absorbed into Han China. It's a continually surprising read.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nag, nag, nag. That's what my conscience does when I don't post. I have no really good reason for not doing so except that my hands hurt (actually many joints hurt) and we are having weather that really puts me on edge. It is approximately 34C and extremely windy and a day like today bring all the memories about Canberra's bushfires back. I can only hope there are no firebugs out there ready to take advantage of the conditions. Oh, and it hasn't rained in weeks. It is far too hot and windy to work in the garden. I had to urgently find my shorts in the stuff that had been packed away so my new wardrobe could be installed. The wardrobe is wonderful and I have oodles of space in it. I fancy I could even hide wool in it!

I have joined the breed swap on one of the spinners' lists so I spent yesterday while the wardrobe people were here putting 1 oz of English Leicester in each of 32 sandwich bags. I also emailed the lady from whom I bought the fleece to find out more about her sheep and who she sells wool to. I've decided not to sacrifice my perfectly spun yarn to the project but use an earlier batch for the 32 yds needed as spinning samples. In the process of looking for info on the breed I discovered that Australia used to have Cotswolds but they have died out and the first sheep here were Teeswaters. EL's are designated rare in Australi. I hope people don't get confused by our name for them as the are called English Leicesters to distinguish from Broder Leicesters and they are known as Leicester Longwool elsewhere.

Knitting: to the toe of the first red sock (got a lot done waiting 2 hours for the doctor) and finished the first ball of the back of J's cardigan. Spinning: the mottled grey from the spotted sheep, washed and carded by moi. Very long staple but sometimes it won't draft finely consistently. Mabe I can have a grey body and black and white sleeves. All woolen goods have been packed away with mothflakes.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Finally some real knitting content! This is S's Christmas jumper which will be off the the UK as soon as I get some books that I ordered. This was knit with Elann superwash wool. It had little undyed fibres that floated thu it and which sometime made a sort of halo over the surface of the wool. Not crazy about that feature but I'm sure an 8 year old doesn't care.

I have swatched for J's cardi but haven't compared the results to the pattern to see if I'm on gauge. The pattern is very weird in that the 2 needle sizes given for knitting are 3.25 and 3.75 but the swatch is knit on 3.5s. Do you have to be Vogue to understand this? I also picked up the latest Vogue knitting after several favourable reviews and I have to agree that there are several interesting things in it. Never mind the showstopping cover design (suitable to the Vogue model figure) which besides being cabled to death is knit in cashmere! You'd better be going some place cold in that or you'd be quite warm. I have turned the heel on the red socks and am powering through the foot.

Four more mesh bags of fleece are ready to wash. I have planted seeds for cucumbers, yellow squash and 4 types of rockmelon (cantalope) in the hope that maybe one of them will produce a melon. Last year we got ONE. It was very tasty but I expect better. We are still getting frosts at night so I can't do much more than cut asparagus every day and wait.

I missed this morning (between breakfast and 1PM) having to go back to bed. My legs were screaming last night and I slept poorly and was not very rested when I awoke. I went to the mall on Friday and then Saturday we went to the mall and the hardware megastore and my legs do not like that must walking/standing around you do when shopping. This state of events has not improved as I lost weight. My knees feel better but my legs show no improvement (so far, she says optimistically).
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Saturday, October 07, 2006

I have been very remiss in not blogging but it's been on of those weeks where I haven't had a spare moment with any energy to burn. It seems like the fatigue part of FMS claimed me. Every time I had a spare moment I was too knackered to do anything. Managing to keep up with the normal things of life took all my energy. My vision seems to be giving me problems as well. Kerataconus is theoretically solved by a cornea transplant (graft) and I have two of them. But I only see 20/20 under perfect conditions with good light. Throw in fancy graphics, small type, low contrast conditions and I am straining. Eventually this leads to headaches. Also I am extremely reliant on my gas-permeable contact lenses. A speck of dust, an eyelash, even blinking the wrong way and I am practically blind. I have finally gotten the Bear to admit I need help in housecleaning. I can't see the dirt, my hands aren't strong enough to scrub, I can't kneel and I get dizzy easily. I am thrilled to think about not fretting about my less than clean house.

I have not dyed, but I have finished S's jumper (photo to come). We are having warm days but still the threat of frost at night so I haven't planted my tender crops yet.

Monday, October 02, 2006

No, I have not been hiding myself in shame. Just been busy and didn't feel like revisiting the debacle that was the Grand Final. Full points to the Weagles because they played better than the Swans did and only their poor kicking didn't make the score higher. Having said that, our poor kicking lost us the game. The first half was a sad thing to watch, but I was certain that the boys would fight back. Well, they did, but too little too late so they lost by one lousy point. Had any of a number of players who had opportunities in the first half to kick goals managed to get the ball between the big sticks, the match would have gone our way. Many tried but few succeeded. IMHO, we were also feeling the lack of Paul Williams and Jared Crouch in the back line. The new guys did well, but Crouchy and Willo had so much more experience and I don't think would have let WCE's forwards through as much. It was a nice touch to let LRT (Lewis Roberts-Thompson) score a goal which will probably not be a normal occurrence but take your goals where you can. Now I can only hope that we regroup and go at it again. The media kept saying that winning back-to-back premiereships is extremely hard and I believe them now. Seeing my favourite umpire fall on his bum was an added bonus.

While I have been home I have dedicated myself to fibre pursuits. Today I took the noily hand-dyed Perendale roving and the noily Corriedale batts and made a large piece of felt. I followed the directions found here. It isn't as thick as I would have liked it. I had a lot of wool on the counter when I started, but not enough for the thickness I wanted. The most frustrating thing about felting is trying to guess how much any given item will shrink when felted. This shrunk very little in size and some of the fibres remained separate from the layers beneath them even tho they were laid cross-wise and vigorously messed with during the process. They felted, but didn't attach to the layer underneath. Once I decide what I'm going to do with the piece, I will have to address the need for possible stabilization so the pieces don't fall off. Tomorrow I dye.

I have finished knitting S's Christmas jumper and need to assemble it and knit the neckband in. Then start J's cardigan after finally getting in touch with her for her size.

I am tired of being tired, of always feeling that I'm lacking sleep, of wishing there were more hours in the day so I could do all the things my brain dream up for me to do but I don't have the energy to do. I had to take numerous breaks during the felting because I just couldn't stand up for the length of time needed for the task. The Bear and I both worked in the yard on Sunday and we both eventually just got pooped. (He's terribly out if shape because he doesn't get any exercise and the diabetes and asthma don't help) I got to a point where I was dizzy and couldn't hold the pruning shears any longer. I am still coughing (and not a dry tickly cough) from the flu I had in August. I'd take time off but I want to be able to accomplish something in the time I have, not sleep. But I do want to sleep as well. Somebody add another day to the week or a couple of more hours to the day so I can have a nap and still get things done. And we won't talk about housework that doesn't get done because I'm felting...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pre Grand Final trivia to conquer the jitters.

Barry Hall has lucky underwear. (so do I)

Ben Matthews has a tattoo of a tiger guarding cubs on his side.

Brett Kirk is the most effective Buddhist midfielder in the AFL.

Michael O'Loughlin's partner gave birth to their first child the week he kicked his 400th goal.

Paul Roos met his American wife in a bar in San Diego.

I have been a fan of the Swans since I saw my first AFL match on ESPN in 1982. I had a team poster on the wall of my office in Ohio which inspired the girls and intimidated the boys. When the deputy Director General of the NLA visited me there on business we spent the time talking football and he seemed to be trying to sell me on the idea of living in Canberra.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm not going to write a lot today but give you some pretty piccies to look at. This is a very small bit of the Wisteria which covers the entrance to the backyard and the driveway. The smell is heavenly. I kept killing wisteria in Ohio as we were right on the border of its climate zone. Here it is rampant.

Here are the Cotton fun socks. Not very exciting; blue, grey and black but I don't wear wild socks every day.

Here is the photo of the red socks as promised. A slightly different take on self patterning from Jawolle. And I was utterly flabberghasted to find in the middle of the yarn sausage the little spool to the right with is reinforcing thread. Since the yarn is about 18% nylon already, I'm not certain it needs it but I'll give it a whirl when I make it to the heel. One of the podcasters I listen to said she was so over self patterning yarn. I am getting that way, because htey all make the same type of pattern. Regia Ringel makes stripes but other wise it's all fake fairisle and I'm getting a bit tired of it too. The glorious colourways that are available from places like Mountain colors or such cost too much for me. Monday is a public holiday and I am taking the following Tues off so I have until next Thurs to play. It's too early to do anything serious outside but weed so I intend dyeing, putting something throught the inkle loom and maybe carding some of the washed wool or start spinning something new. I have removed all the bits and pieces from bobbins and now have a lot of miscellaneous bits of wool.Felting too maybe

Monday, September 25, 2006

No prizes for guessing where we were on Friday night. Telstra Stadium watching my Swannies thrash "the purple people from the west" as they were described by some newpaper reporter. There were very few fans of the purple people in the 61,000 plus folks in attendance which I guess isn't surprising. The team came through the match with no injuries and all the forwards scored well, B Hall with 6 goals and R O'Keefe and M O'Loughlin with 4 a piece. They played very sloppy footy for the first half of the match before they got their act together, but never looked in doubt of winning. Now that West Coast beat Adelaide in the other match it will be a repeat of last year's Grand Final and I think we should be favourites to win the big one. My friend J and I decided that going to the Grand Final was just out of our reach financially. Not have a couple of thousand dollars lying around to spend in an ultimately frivolous manner. If it's like last year, the Grand Final crowd was heavily biased toward Sydney anyway.

I am still quite tired. All the walking we did both in going to the match and on Saturday in going into the city on the train to do some shopping really made my legs hurt. Don't know what I can do about it; I think it's a combo of FMS, chronic circulatory problems in my legs that have been bothering me for 30 years, and just not being used to walking so far on hard surfaces. Actually standing is worse than walking and you do a lot of standing while waiting for trains and/or shopping. Did cast on and knit on the new red/black & white wool/cotton socks. Photos to follow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Today I picked up a package from Cabin Cove Mercantile (2 thumbs up for speed of service altho they enclosed a little sachet of lavender which ticked off Quarantine) containing some superwash fingering weight (read sock) merino yarn in a lovely subtle combinations of grey, and a case for my dpns. This was the first case I've seen that wasn't horribly expensive and it's pretty basic but in a flamboyant palm tree print. Which leads me to whine about dpns. I have tried other needles than bamboo and keep coming back to them. I got some sexy rosewood needles made in India which had nice sharp points. Then one broke; then the points developed little spurs that caught on the wool; then the second one broke. These are size 1's which is what I generally knit socks on. I won't try them again. Size 1's seem to be a problem to many folks. I don't even try Brittany Birches in 1's because they are so easily broken (or bent which is a bit weird). I also tried Pony Pearls and although they are plastic with a steel core, the tip of one broke off. So I guess it's Plymouth and Clover bamboos forever unless somebody has another option.

On the home front I worked in the garden on Sunday and got the berry bushes fertilized and mulched (no more pile of leaves in the driveway), weeded some, took the cat for a walk, disposed of the remains pruned from the pear tree. While I was out there I saw a new bird for our backyard, a spotted pardalote, or rather a pair. They are really tiny but since they were not twittering and in a flock like silvereyes I strained to pick out enough features so I could look them up in the book when back inside. While the photo definitely shows why they are called spotted, it doesn't show the reddish buff on the male's chin and under pants. When I came hers of cource every bird was a new bird, but now we are running out of new things for this area besides the invisible ones (those that you hear every time you go into the bush but don't often see). According to the web-site the photo came from, the pardalote is an altitudinal migrant, that is, it migrates up the mountains and down. We have seen them before at Tidbinbilla but not in our backyard. We also went to the hardware/garden store where I bought 4 new ivy-leaf geraniums (or pelargoniums if you want to be pedantic) to replace those that died over the winter, some herbs and some tomato plants. It is way too early for tomatoes but some I just buy when I see them and keep until it's safe to plant (early Nov.).

Friday, September 15, 2006

My readers might think that not a day goes by without a bit of fibre stuff arriving in the mail. Sometimes it feels that way. On Wednesday I got Colourful Knitwear Design from Amazon. It's a collection of articles from Threads, from when Threads still did more than sewing. Lots of wonderful Ideas and examples. One that used bits and pieces including embroidery floss and other "nontraditional" knitting fibre. I have still in the back of my head the plan to knit something from my boxes of surplus needlepoint yarn but haven't gotten around to designing it. It will be intarsia or stripes since there are limited seasons for heavy Fair Isle jumpers here.

I also got 400 gm of beige raw alpaca from an ebay source. I haven't spun alpaca yet but I am eager to try. That's one of the reasons I bought those combs in Bendigo. I was flipping through EZ's Knitting workshop last night to check to see if that's the one with the top down yoke sweater in it and it is. The lightbulb over my head went on this morning and I remembered I have some Jumbuck wool in the stash, plenty of white and smaller amounts of 2 shades of natural brown. I had't had a plan for it but now I do. Faux Scandinavian yoke sweater with brown on white. Hey, it's so dry here that if is snowed, the flakes might be brown. It occasionally rains mud.

Today my spindle from Carolina Homespun arrived. I am both excited and apprehensive about learning a new technique that involves co-ordination. Fingers crossed. I was watching The worst jobs in history on the ABC on Sunday and the only female work demonstrated was grinding grain, but there was a person in the background spinning on a spindle. If people have been doing for thousands of years, I should be able to, right?

We have our tickets to the Swans final next Friday (the 22) and motel booked near a train station. The Bear almost knocked my socks off by saying he would be willing to take public transport into the Sydney CBD on Saturday. Separate him from his car? Never happened before.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This image shows the culminating moment in the Swans one point victory over West Coast in Perth on Saturday night. Mick had just kicked the winning goal while running through the goal square and right up to the Weagles cheer squad where he, slightly pumped, let out his enthusiasm on them. Wonderful moment. Really gritty, hard fought match, which every match against WC is. But Roosy is playing head games again and saying he knows how to beat the Weagles at their own game, which one has to admit, we did despite several players being injured. Kirk was playing on a sprained ankle; our ruckman had a badly dislocated finger. But they strap 'em up and on they go. Supposedly the intensity of the match solidified the team into The Bloods mentality and when they are playing feeling like that they are hard to beat. So we have a home prelimininary (semi) final Friday week, unfortunately a night match at Telstra Stadium and I just read that the tickets are pricey but we still want to go.

I am pretending that yesterday was just another day because I still after five years cannot bear to think about that day without breaking down so I have to bury it a while longer.

I washed more fleece on the weekend and this time I pulled the tips of the locks open and washed the net bags in the laundry tub so I could see how dirty the water was and it came out beautifully clean. Little longer fibres in this batch. I was preparing more fleece to wash while watching TV last night and at one point looked down to see the Imp eating the other end of the bit of wool I was working on. Ick! Don't eat raw fleece, you stupid cat.

I was listening to Brenda Dayne on Cast-on today at work and she has an uncanny ability to choose music for her interludes that just grabs me. Twice now I have been forced to immediately track down the artist (at CDbaby) and buy the record. She seems to fall for the same bluesy, from the heart, singer/songwriters that tickle my musical fancy as well. My musical tastes are eclectic (I don't like opera or maudlin country) so we go from early Beatles to the latest Aussie rock to world music or the occasional new age-ish. My preferred genre is what I call power pop, altho the music literati have broken it down in to several overlapping and confusing sub-genres. On the other hand I worship at the altar of Eric Clapton and like to sing along to Billy Idol. Another reason I love my iPod is that it's all there whenever the need arises (assuming I've been organized enough to load it onto the iPod in the first place).

Friday, September 08, 2006

A week punctuated by lack of sleep and a chronic sore throat. I think I have found the cause of my lack of sleep and its name is The Senior Cat. While for the most part she sleeps next to me, she also wakes me up several times a night. Sometimes she walks around on my pillow and purrs at me. Sometimes she wants to go out (either a potty break or a snack) and then wants to come in again. Then she wants out for good around 5AM. These disruptions to my sleep cycle have been doing me in. I have kept her out for two nights and have had the first uninterrupted nights' sleep in weeks. Sleep is absolutely essential to FMS people and I was getting very tired of falling asleep while watching the news because I couldn't sleep at night. I have no cure for the sore throat. Watch this space.

In the mail this week has come the above sock yarn that screams to be knitted. It came from Simply Sock Yarn and accompanied some rather boring one colour Regia cotton. I am still knitting the second Cotton Fun sock so it will have to wait. I also got som thing called Dragon Waste from Mountain Shadow Ranch from their ebay store. $12US for 14 oz super wash wool mill ends. The colours range from red to aqua to black. There is plenty for several pairs of socks.

A box from Amazon arrived today with EZ's Knitting workshop which I just hadn't gotten around to buying. Also Knit it Now which I should have known by the fact that it was a Martingale publication is the same sweater knit in several different yarns (all expensive). Why don't I learn? There were 3 very positive reviews so I bought. Maybe it will prove me wrong. On the other hand No pattern knits by Pat Ashforth & Steve Plummer is the best modular book I've seen (and I've bought quite a few) because it goes beyond the novelty of knitting shapes and putting them together, although that is covered in detail. It's loaded with photos with lots of detail on every aspect of modular knitting and then goes into design with a whole chapter on colour and only a few patterns at the end. I feel more confident about what to do with bits and pieces in the stash. In fact I have a few things already put together in my mind.

I also bought a used copy of Hand spinning: art and technique by Allen Fannin. I know I have checked this book out of the Guild library but it just has so much stuff in it that paying $10 for a used copy I consider an investment in the reference library. It also covers handspindling which I shall be trying soon.

What is with books? Why can't I resist them? I have a bookcase next to my chair where I blog that contains my personal reading matter. I have a solid shelf of oversized chraft books, not just knitting but other fibre crafts such as needlepoint, quilting, dyeing, and weaving. I just did a weed-out of books bought in a fit of enthusiasm that I know I won't use and donated them to the library. Above that are 2 shelves of regular sized books (octavo to librarians) that are double shelved (two rows one behind the other,) the top one small mass market paperbacks, the lower hardcovers and trade paperback. These are all my "current reading" which ranges from science fiction to the history of the Spanish Armada. And I bought 2 new sci fi this weekend. When do I think I am going to read them? I read a review or stumble on something on Amazon or see a featured new novel in Dymocks and the plastic goes zing!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Just a brief post as I am off to the dentist. My article on the WWII socks project has been published in Fiber Femmes! The image quality ain't so hot but it's there!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

We may have created a monster. The Imp, seen here with her current favourite toy, a gold twist-tie, was held down while all her nails were clipped, since we were both getting tired of being shredded in passing. Then we held her down and put the collar and leash on her and took her for a stroll in the back yard. She did nothing much except sniff things, eat grass (what is it with cats & grass?) and wander around. She wanted to visit the scrap of wasteland that is the corridor between our house and the one next door which is all of about 8' wide, I assume because that's what my bedroom window looks at. When she was gathering herself to jump over the fence, I picked her up and brought her back around to the main backyard. More wandering, sniffing, tasting things (do NOT eat ivy), having ants run up her legs but no excitement shown nor particular interest in anything. So she was eventually gathered up and brought inside. Whence began lurking at the backdoor and howling. For a long time. I never knew she could make such noise as it has been single yowls to this point. I think it's one of those cases of "I can't have it, so therefore I want it."

Today in the mail I got a box of Philosopher's Wool from the Neverending Yarn that I ordered when they were having a sale. I figure, I've got the book, I've got the wool so I should be able to produce one of their sweaters. No it's not the finest Shetland but when I calculated costs of buying wool to make a colourwork jumper it all came out to be more than I can afford. I got this for half price because it was odds and ends. I will spin some of the white wool in the stash sport weight once I figure out I can do this. If Knitpicks would only ship overseas...