Saturday, April 29, 2006

So much for good intentions for all sorts of things. I felt very washed out and lethargic yesterday, had trouble getting comfortable to sleep and this morning felt worse and lost my voice in the middle of a sentence. Spent most of the day in bed dozing off (dreamt of RFK saving a troupe of dwarves from the Nazis) and felt a fever break a little while ago. Having a lowered immune system leaves you open to whatever bug wafts through the Library.

Started Sock 2 of WW2 socks and have knit 1"

Friday, April 28, 2006

Yesterday wore me out. Worked at the NLA for 5+ hours including two trips to the stacks with loaded book trolleys (note to US: book trucks are trolleys here) and lots of moving books, editing records online, labelling, barcoding etc. Then I spent 90 minutes in the dentist's chair doing prep work for a crown. I got home only in time to whip up something soft for dinner and the start the veal and barley stew for tonight. Watched the news, ate dinner. A friend at work got my family history bug active so instead of knitting I trawled looking for ancestors. I had already discovered on my lunch hour that the Old Stone Church in East Haven, CT, which was talked about by my father as being the old family church only acquired my grandparents as members after he was born. So much for ancient family ties. I think they moved from New Haven to East Haven but I don't know when. So also were my researches fruitless. The Cornwells moved from Dutchess County, NY, to CT sometime in the mid 19th century. Since I don't know when, it's difficult to know which census to look at. There are lots of Howard, Thomas, and John Cornwells, but which is mine? I must pay for's Worldwide service so I can trace the Hotchkiss's in Canada and the Pages in England. My 1st husband promised to do it but I have heard nothing; my younger half brother was interested but he didn't do it. So "Las Vegas", "Lost" and part of "Law and Order" passed without my full attention.

Literature notes on what I'm reading: My bedtime book is "A Black Sheep" by Ada Cambridge. It is a 19th century novel which was serialized in newpapers of the 1850s. The Bear has a whole run of these as he was on the Scholary Editions Committtee when he was at ADFA and got free copies of all the books they published. I view it as further educating myself about Australia. I am trying to read "Gould's Book of Fish" by Richard Flanagan but I've been so tired I have fallen asleep every time I sat down to read it. I tried but couldn't get into Patricia Cornwell's "Predator". There is something so perverse and twisted under all her stories these days that I just don't like reading them. Before that I raced through the latest C.J. Cherryh novel in the "Foreigner" series, "Pretender" which I found absolutely un-put-downable and both of us can't wait for the next installment. As a funny aside, after the first 3 were published I wrote her and asked her whether there would be more (Bear said no; I said yes) and she gave me a "wait and see" answer. Well, there have been lots more and I see no end in sight.

Lunch now. I do so love Della and I have a wireless mouse now which is even niftier. I can look up anything I want or work on my knitting magazine index or buy needlepoint kits from Ehrmann Tapestry. I have already done 2 of them but gave them away and they are the up at the top of needlepoint with Gloriafilia and the Royal School of Needlework. I have started back on my current needlepoint project which is an Anchor kit of 3 panels on tropical fish scenes. Vary colourful but it is counted and very small canvas. I have done half of the kit--one complete and one half done.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I've been reading a lot of knitting blogs lately and everyone seems to be so proud of showing off socks. To me socks are like white bread, or doughnuts. Always there and not to be shouted about unless in some way extraordinary. At this point of my knitting life I can't imagine having too many socks, since commercial socks don't fit me (I like a longer leg than women's socks and have shorter feet than men's) and can't hold a candle to all those wonderful sock yarns out there. So this is a photo of the socks I just did in the last wash plus 2 pair pulled out of the summer/cotton drawer (the purple and blue stripe (Cascade Fixation) and the jazzy ones just above (Bendigo Miami wool/cotton)). Thus you see that unless it's lace or entrlac or something else exotic (and I'm not likely to do either of those techniques any time soon) socks are boring. I have a pair (not the WW2 socks) OTK for The Bear (seen above in his natural habitat, his den surrounded by computer hardware and boxes of books) because he is diabetic and needs very stretchy socks for his stubby legs. After his stay in hospital due to an abcess on his leg which resulted in a big hole and 5 weeks off work, we don't take chances on leg circulation. And I always have plenty of fuel for sock knitting (this assumes that some day the WW2 socks will be in the past) as this is a photo of the plastic bin of sock yarn showing Opal, Mountain Colors, Lorna's Laces, etc. waiting to be knit. The only socks I might do and shout about are some Scandivavian colourwork ones I have a pattern for.
Welcome to fibromyalgia. Today is a bad day. Why? 1) I worked in the garden yesterday pulling up couch grass from where it wants to grow and I don't want it to, like in the middle of the asparagus patch. Hard on the hands. 2) I spent the evening spinning that wonderful hand-painted Polwarth and it was so delightful I spun for 3 hours which is hard on my hands. 3) I forgot to take my medications at dinner last night Why? if you have an answer, please tell me because I do it more often than I'd like and it really does me in. This morning I feel like I've ben dipped in pain. I am still in bed and do not plan on getting out until I have to go for Bowen therapy at 2 PM or I feel up to dealing with the real world. I do so love Della as she can even come to bed with me and allow me to share all of my life.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Since I've joined a bunch of blog rings I might tell a bit more about how I earn a living (and it's definitely not by knitting or spinning or growing vegetables). I have been a librarian 30 years (shudder) starting in serial cataloguing at a large university library in the southeast. I then spent 2.5 years at The Big One, the Library of Congress, but I felt stifled there. I then spent 12 years at OCLC (and anybody who sees this and knows the library old-girls' network probably has figured out who I am by now) before I ran away to Australia to marry a wonderful man I met online. Originally we both hoped I wouldn't have to work, but with child support and my longing for a permanent home, I went back to work at the smallest library I've ever worked for, the National Library. I have worked in several different cataloguing positions and I currently dangle off the organization chart working on projects. The ones I am working on currently include: cataloguing old uncatalogued pamphlet material, both Australian and non-, correcting subject and name headings using the features of our new (2 years old) local system, finding and linking monographs in series that lost their connections due to data migrations, changes in cataloguing rules, cost-cutting measures in the past, etc., and removing Australian material from one area of the collection and moving it to another. Everything in the NLA is divided into Australian or overseas material and our goal is to be THE source for Australian materialso, if a user requests Australian material and it isn't where it's supposed to be, one has to hope that the folks in the stacks will remember to check everywhere it might be. My job is to fix as much as I can so they don't need to. I must admit that we also overdid it a bit much in the '60's and acquired much more than we could really adequately provide access to, so I spend some time picking and choosing so we don't waste time and space on, for example, the internal procedures of a child care centre in Darwin from 1965 at the expense of local histories or research materials that merely got lost in the shuffle. I've learned an incredible amount about Australia in the process and, while some of it is crashingly boring, much of it is fascinating especially since there is so much cultural history for me to catch up on. I love my job and only wish I had more healthy hours in a week to devote to it,
Round 4: What can I say? They should have won. They couldn't kick straight when it counted. They fumbled, they gave the ball to the opponents, they screwed up and lost it in the last few minutes. However, having been a Swan supporter for 24 years I know all is not lost. Even last year the beginning of the season wasn't all that pretty. I do also object the the new rule about marking which I call the Leo Barry Rule. If a player uses another player's back to climb up and misses the mark, he gives away a free kick, If he gets the mark, everything is OK. I have twice seen Leo do what used to be totally legal and have the ball slip through his fingers and a free has been given to his opponent. I hope all those new members think they joined the wrong club and give up after 4 matches.

I have taken almost a week off by flexing off from work today and with ANZAC Day tomorrow I get Friday to Thursday off. I intent to do garden clean-up this afternoon.

Yesterday I started to card the spotted fleece I bought last year in Bendigo and discovered I had not washed it as well as I thought as it was still greasy. So it's getting a second bath as I type. This fleece was bought in a moment of weakness as I had never seen a spotted fleece before. Imagine a pinto sheep. Once I had it home I realized there was an issue in how to spin it so it retained some of its spotted heritage. If I just blended it all together I would end up with grey. So I tried as best I could to divide the fleece into black, white, and grey. Of course it won't be true black because it is merino or Corriedale. What I did process had a 5" very crimpy fibre so it will be soft and lofty. I am thinking of doing a plied black and white. No-one but me will know that both black and white came from the same fleece, but I'll know. My carder is an Ashford but I am not very familiar with the process yet so I cannot say whether it is better than any other. So far, it has met my needs and I got a great deal on it.

I also promised a photo of what I am spinning which is tan merino also from Bendigo, but 2 years ago. The photo shows it lighter in colour than it really is which is latte coloured. The photo shows (from left to right), a bobbin of singles, a bobbin of plied, and the end of the log of carded fibre I am working from.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Della is also a slut because she's warm when she sits on your lap on a cold morning and it was a robust 2C when I looked at 8am. We are off to Robertson NSW (2 hours NE) to go to a fibre festival where I hope to meet up with some people who raise black & coloured Border Leicesters. I may even buy a whole fleece today if something catches my eye and hand.

I went through the 4 plastic boxes of spinning stash yesterday to find short fibres to practice on and also as a sort of re-familiarizing myself to exactly what's there. White Corriedale, white merino, white columbia and white merino cross. And white Finn lamb
. I see dyeing my future. For the time being I pulled out a log of dark brown Polwarth, some camel down and a bag of hand-dyed Polwarth. That's for when I finish the log of tan merino I am currently spinning. Photos soon!

Later... back from a day in the Southern Highlands spent wandering on a lovely autumn day from Robertson to Moss Vale to Berrima to Sutton Forest and home. Robertson for pies from the world famous pie shop, lovely cheese and gourmet foods from the Cheese Factory (and yes, the yarn shop in the same building sells nothing but novelty yarns), then to the (much smaller than expected) wool fair, where we apparently were too late (1PM) to see the best wool. I did buy some grey Border Leicester and admired 3 black sheep. I had a long conversation with Petlyn Alpacas folks who also make wool combs. We agreed to meet again in Bendigo in July and I would buy a warping frame and also probably a pair of mini-combs. These nice people should not be confused with Petlin's spinning and weaving supplies in Sydney (although I did confuse them). In Moss Vale we looked at some god-awful antiques; in Berrima we only looked at used books and only bought 3. Can you fathom we only bought 3 books in a huge barn full of books? Then to Sutton Forest and A Little Piece of Scotland for shortbread and a coffee mug with the Anderson clan insignia on it and a scottie pin for my Scottie-loving friend CR.

Ah, Della has her first rival for my lap. The Imp is looking at this thing Mummy has in her lap with some curiosity, but she is mostly interested in washing her face after supper. Since she is now actually sitting on my arm, I'd better post this

Friday, April 21, 2006

Della is a slut. Just sitting here glowing makes me leave my bowl of cereal and go surfing, first knitting blogs (I was reading about seaming at Knitty and one thing led to another; sorta like how I ended up married to The Bear only less so ) and then found a ring for ex-pats. But it was ONLY for ex-pat content and I don't fit that category. As soon as I can figure out how to add more links (like learn more HTML) I'll jazz up the page with links to other blogs.

But I really should add some ex-pat content because one of my goals with this blog is to describe how living in Australia is so different. Like the mail was just delivered. No the post came. and it was delivered by the postie who rides a motorcycle. Your letterbox must be positioned so a motorcyclist came drive up to it. And if it's raining he insists on dumping it on the ground even tho there is ample room to put it inside. Posties do not collect mail when they deliver, and there is no flag on the letterbox to tell you it has arrived. But your ear gets tuned to the exact sound of the postie's motorbike and you can tell when he's been. (note: "he's been" not "he's been here" or "he's come")

I also thought I'd include a weather report for anyone who is totally confused by our upside down climate pattern (judging by the comments I got when I visited last, this applies to most Americans). The front is coming through and it is very windy and patchy dark clouds. Colder too: 10C/50F.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Still playing with Della as bedtime approaches but went off following links to various other knitting blogs ending at the Yarn Harlot who was thrilled to meet Annie Modesitt. Now, I have to go against the rest of us knitting gals in that I didn't like her book. She was just as opinionated (IMHO) as the people she was railing against and I thought the idea was to be more free-spirited about things. Anyhoo, I looked at her patterns and they were both gorgeous and sincerely humble-making. I could never dream up anything as intricate and gorgeous as her stuff and I am hanging my head and going back to the WW2 socks in shame.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yesterday brought in the post a package of buffalo (Bison bison) fibre that I got from Buffalo Gold that I got when I subscribed to Wild fibers magazine. Aside from its luxurious packaging (little drawstring bags of fine fabric) it looks very intriguing, and I hope to spin it soon. I must learn to spin short fine fibres and something other than wool. I carded the black Shetland lamb fleece I washed when I was in the states in October. Not much there but it seem really soft--much more so than the adult fleece I processed last year. Photos to follow.

And to add to Pam at FiberLife's comments about tools, I use as stitch markers the coloured rings that come with my electric toothbrush. They are small and brightly coloured and always more than 2 people would ever use. For the storage of odds & ends, I use the plastic boxes that Sucrets throat lozenges come in. For small item knitting (like socks) I bought a bunch of make-up cases at K-Mart on sale. They are mostly garish prints but that means it's hard to leave them somewhere.

Today brought the new laptop, whose name is Della (big guess at why) and now All I have to do is configure everything and find all my settings and bookmarks. :-)

It is autumn here but we had a really warm April after a brief chill and a dusting of snow on the peaks. The leaves seem to all have changed colour in a week and there are signs we had a light frost in the backyard. A new cold front is due this weekend; unlike Alberta clippers, our weather comes straight from Antarctica in the winter. I even miss snow which people may find hard to believe, but I do.

WIP: I am now on the heel of the first WW2 sock!! I never thought I'd see the end of that long leg!. I am knitting them first and them plan to dye them together as I could not find yarn in military colours altho the pattern leaflet indicated it was available during the war.

About 3 years ago I got seriously addicted to spinning. The same BFLB (best friend left behind) who got me into knitting had gotten a spinning wheel and asked me to buy some spinning wool for her. That got me into the local guild, Canberra Spinners and Weavers and when I saw their Alladin's cave of fibre I was very intrigued. I tried taking spinning lessons but trying to learn on a used Ashford Traveller without knowing how to adjust it and nobody at home with me to tell me what to do was a wash out. I bought from the US a Babe electric wheel and gradually taught myself to spin. I reached the limits of that wheel (there is no way to maintain a steady speed with a foot pedal) and begged a Ertoel Roberta electric wheel as a birthday/anniversary present. I absolutely adore it. It is bobbin driven and has a pedal that acts as an on/off switch. You adjust speed with a dial at the front, there is a brake band for tension and forward and reverse for S or Z spinning. I usually have the wheel on a little table next to my recliner and the pedal goes under one leg, I can spin while watching TV and even with a cat on my lap and only need to shift my weight to start and stop the wheel. I still count myself a learner and am only now starting to seriously knit something from what I've spun (altho I've sold some handspun at a Guild sale). Spinning is truly the most soothing and satisfying hobby I've picked up and I would rather spin than do anything else. It has led me into a magical realm of fibre and the world of sheep breeds. Why else would one got to Bendigo in July that to look at sheep?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My major project at the moment is replica World War 2 Australian Army socks that I volunteered to knit in a moment of weakness. Little did I know that they would be knit out of lace-weight wool on size 0 dpns and be knee high with a 4" cuff at the top. I have knit over 16" of sock and I am now approaching the ankle. My hands object if I knit nothing but socks in an evening; I typically knit while I watch TV from approximately 7.30-10.30 PM. There's not much I won't knit except the most elaborate lace (lace and I don't get along too well but I'm working at it) or the currently popular freeform objects. I have felted, done simple intarsia, love Aran cables, and am working my way up to colour work (fair isle and/or Scandinavian patterns)

When I moved to Australia 15 years ago, for some reason I thought I wouldn't be doing most of the crafty type activities I had done all my life. I brought needlepoint and continued that but I thought I wouldn't quilt anymore, or garden, or make jam. I'm not sure why this idea was in my head; maybe I was so burned out from my previous job that I couldn't imagine wanting to do more than veg. I admit that the first couple of years were full of new experiences--learning a new language (do NOT think that English is the same here as anywhere else), new foods, new shopping experiences, new landscapes. Even reading junk mail was educational. But about 6 years ago a combination of influences, namely my dear MIL (mother-in-law) and my best friend-left-behind made me try knitting. It was addictive and I've been at it ever since. I wore one of the first jumpers I ever knit today and altho I can see things in it I would have done better, I am still happily wearing it 5 years after it was knit.

Monday, April 17, 2006

This blog has been set up to keep my friends and relatives (and anybody else who is interested enough to read this) about my current activities. Primarily these activities revolve around knitting, spinning and other fibre-related activities, the ups and downs of my AFL team The Sydney Swans, my interest in power pop music, and living with chronic illness, namely fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Once I get my technical facilities up and running I hope to publish something daily and this will help in my not having to write the same email to many people, or, what it most likely, not writing anything to anybody. I hope to include photos of WIPs (works in progress) as well as rants about the umpiring of the weekend's footy match. I tend to write a lot parenthetically so try and keep up as I ramble about what's up.

Round 3 2006: The Swannies won, but only just. They played as a team for spells that didn't last long enough but were a joy to see when they happened. Jude was outstanding, as was Goodsey. Poor Hally had guys hanging all over him but every time he tried to get free the umpires gave a free to whomever he tried to get rid of. Shades of the days when Plugger was always in the wrong.