Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Of course, I'm still sitting here, reading blogs, throwing the stupid sheep for The Imp to fetch and give me to throw again. At one point she was standing on Della's keyboard with her rear end in my face lashing me with her tail. Does this mean something beyond she is demented?

I had to post this picture. I will not name the fibre purveyor who is selling this. It is priced at $26.00US and the site doesn't give a weight. Now, I understand the lure to the non-spinner of hand-crafted yarn but what the heck are you supposed to make out of this lump of stuff? I cannot begin to express (in a genteel and non-pornographic way) what I think of this crap. It gives a bad name to people who spend large amounts of time hand-crafting gorgeous yarns to have this stuff sold as "unique" and "one of a kind" (I certainly hope so) but in my opinion it's akin to someone selling the pot your 6-year-old made in craft class as equally unique and hand-crafted. This stuff masquerading as art yarn outrages me. Maybe I ought to set up a fancy web-site and sell my overspun and mistakes as one-of-a-kind art yarns. Stop ranting now.

The Imp is driving me mad this morning. I think it's because she found a long-lost toy, a Christmas tree ornament of a sheep. When I went back to bed this morning after taking my meds (I don't work Weds) she brought her sheep to savage on top of me. She has twice this morning made the excrutiating noise that is her all-purpose vocalization, meaning "I am not happy." Usually when I tell she can't do something she dearly wants to do like jump to the top of the shower screen at an inconvenient moment, or get into the rubbish bin, she will look at me and make this gut-wrenching squall. So this morning I am being presented with the sheep at every moment, no matter what I'm doing (unloading the washing machine, etc.) Right now she is sitting at my feet to the right and the sheep is to my left and she is debating pouncing on it.

One of the lists I belong to has been on a discussion of woolen vs worsted and long draw. Since I am self taught, I learned what works for me and produces the kind of yarn I like to knit with which turns out to be semi-worsted. Inch-worm type drafting and no spin entering the drafting triangle. Nice fluffy yarns are warm and can show off some kinds of fibers but I am a fan of Aran knitting and textures that need a yarn to show off their ins-and-outs so woolen is not my preferred spinning method. I have done it when I finally spun my first black Shetland (taking a photo of black wool is a bit hard), but when I'm spining 4' long fine fibres, worsted is the way to go. I still can't get my head around long draw but I think I'd have to see someone do it.

There's also a discussion of how many fleeces is too many. Many of the spinners on this list are far more advanced than I, have been at it longer, and do more of it than I have time to. So many talk about having more than 10 whole fleeces in their stash, which makes mine seem puny. I still am not sure whether you are supposed to wash the fleece before long-term storage as I have seen firm "rules" saying both yes and no. I only have one unwashed fleece and it was purchased 2 weeks ago so maybe I still count as a newbie. We'll see after we go to the Wool show in Bendigo in July. I can really fall in love with wool but I need to find an outlet for the excess. Maybe an eBay sale would work if I can't knit it all. So why am I blogging instead of doing something fibre-related?

Health note: the only medical advice my rheumatologist gave me was that I could safely increase the dosage of one of my meds to reduce pain. So I am doing such, but the down side is that it makes me extremely drowsy unless I am doing something that totally occupies my brain. So yesterday I fell asleep during the news on TV and the day before I fell asleep reading my email. I am becoming a big consumer of podcasts as I have discovered that listening to a podcast at work makes the day fly by. When I am just processing books, my brain is on automatic pilot so having someone talking to me is nice.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Round 9: I am watching the Swannies play Hawthorn on Foxtel (Australian pseudo-cable TV) because the network has inexplicably once again decided that Canberra is not in the Sydney footy demographic and is therefore broadcasting the other match on tonight. I have already had an earful from my good buddy J on this subject (I knew who it was on the phone the minute it rang). So far the Swannies are easily ahead but not walloping them (yet, she says hopefully).

I have been less than regular in posting and this is mostly because I have been in a lot of pain and haven't felt like writing to say such. My friend C came over on Friday and we talked craft and I showed her my most recent purchases and it all came home to me how much craft stuff I have and how I wish I had more time to do it. And time is further limited by how my body wants to behave when I have time. Would I rather take a nap or card fibre? Knit or read? I have turned the heel on the damn sock and am picking up the gusset stitches: the end is in sight, so to speak. I am so eager to knit something else. And I'd even like to get back to spinning my English Leicester again. I will tell this tale to give you an idea of my spinning over-reaching. I like unusual sheep and find merino boring (as has already been established) so for some reason I got into my head that I'd like to spin some English Leiscester. I found a nice breeder in Victoria and bought 2 kilos of raw fleece from her. In retrospect, I realize now how clean it was. But that was my first experience with raw fleece, beautiful lustrous locks of EL. I washed it in mesh bags. I tried flick carding the ends and spinning the locks which was very time consuming, although I was quite satisfied with the results. Then I saw Mabel Ross's video on spinning and used her technique of making mini-roving out of flick-carding and attentuating locks, drawing them out into roving-like bundles and spinning from that. I like that technique much better and spun more than way, but there are still quite a few locks yet to process. I also sent a kilo off for commercial processing just to see what they would do with longwool and, to my surprise, it returned as pencil roving on plastic bobbin-like things.So that remains to be spun as well and takes up a lot of room in my stash. Of course, EL no matter how well spun is not something for knitting everyday garments out of, which is another reason I look longingly at my loom. It is a 4-shaft table loom that I bought used from the Guild for $400 but have yet to do anything with (The Imp goes and hides in it when I yell at her). I am aching to practice on it. When I think of the magic of seeing fabric appear, I can hardly wait although I know it won't happen perfectly the first time. I must learn to practice!

Book report: Big Boring Bedtime Book: White Mughals:
by William Dalrymple. I have read every one of his previous books but they were all travel related. This is his first solid, academically-grounded (and studded with footnotes) straight non-fiction. While the topic is one that I always find interesting (India and once again culture contact), because it is more straight non-fiction, it doesn't exactly whip along. But that's fine for a BBB. Fun book: the third in the Thousand Cultures series (sci-fi): The Merchants of Souls by John Barnes. I couldn't remember anything of the first two except for the facts that I read them and liked them until I checked them out on-line and refreshed my memory. So far, it is as good as the others. I have a terrible memory for book titles and have frequently bought the same book twice because I couldn't remember I had already bought it.

The Bear is home and I have no cats fighting over me and I got the first decent night's sleep in a week, although I kept waking up because the side I was lying on hurt and I'd roll over until that side hurt. Repeat till dawn.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I was catching up with my reading this morning and was reading an article about the new movie about September 11. It began by describing how the TV networks decided after a week to stop replaying the footage of the attacks on the TwinTowers. The writer of the article seemed to think that this has made Americans to somehow forget or bury the images, to have been unable to grieve or express their rage and horror at what happened. Now I am not living in the US, and that day has other special significance because of unrelated things going on in my life, but the images of the planes flying into the buildings is burned into my memory and I can barely think about it without tears welling up. Notice how I never had to say anything more than "September 11" and we were all on the same page? I don't understand how the author could think that just because there are now fierce arguments in NYC about the new buildings for Ground Zero (another one of those phrases we instantly identify) that people have somehow forgotten why there is a Ground Zero. I remember the months after the attacks and how gutwrenching it was. Although my husband bought a book of the firefighters' stories of that day, I still can't bear to read some of the material that came out of it. I can't speak for the entire population of the US, but personally I don't need to see the footage to trigger the emotions of that day. I also remember how, in the days that followed, in order to somehow channel our grief that many of us turned to our knitting. It was not only a soothing activity, but it somehow channelled some of our grief and horror out of our hearts and into the yarn, allowing us to cope with life. It didn't matter what we knit or how it turned out. I also remember that the re-birth of knitting as a popular hobby got a big boost around the same time and I don't think it was all the arrival of novelty yarns. September 11 is an emotional trigger for much of the population of the planet. It changed everything, from how we think about security to whether we can knit on airplanes to whom we trust and whom we are suspcious of, for good reason or bad. I won't be watching that movie now. Maybe in five or ten years.

My sister finds my blog simultaneously "boring" and too personal. She doesn't understand how I could share my persoanl feelings with just anybody who chooses to look at his page. I can't address the "boring" part because I think that is simply different personalities. The personal part is that the blog allows me to express some thoughts that I would express with any friend if we were sitting down for a cuppa. I haven't said anything in this blog that I wouldn't say to any person had we had a chance to sit and chat. The bits about my health are there for a specific reason, to describe what it's like to live with chronic illness and fibromyalgia specifically. If you don't care for my opinions you can always click away or leave a comment.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Whew. I just got back from the annual wool festival at Canberra's Old Bus Depot Markets. The building is a cavernous warehouse and every Sunday is full of fascinating stuff. This was the wool weekend and I spent my $150 in 90 minutes and came home. (The Bear is off at a conference this week) In addition to the pictured fibre items, I bought 2 small used paperback books, a pair of dangly black bead earrings and a gorgeous crystalline glazed bowl from a guy whom I think I've already purchased several items from. Whenever he has a new colour of glaze I buy a bowl. This one is porcelain, square with gold crystals. I don't trust this camera to do it justice. I am quickly learning the limitations of this camera but can't afford the quality one I want.

So what fibre did I buy? The left big bag is 1.6 kg of raw fleece, merino cross pale grey from the NE Victorian coloured sheep folks. The right bag is merino cross roving from a wool grower from Tasmania who has recently moved to Yass and is selling off his wool. It is washed roving but has quite a bit of VM in it. Little darker grey than the other but lighter than the other greys I have ($30/kg). The 2 balls of wool, burgundy and green, front left, are from the Yarn Barn and I see socks in their future. $5/100gm. The pink bag on the top is hand-dyed Wensleydale. The skein below it is mohair boucle which I am hoping blends with the kid mohair I bought in Rhinebeck last October (it does!). It came from Coloured Jules. The 2 little packets to the right are silk from Fiberworks as I need to learn to spin silk.

Round 8: The Swannies won again, this time against the Bulldogs at one of those weird things: a "home" game for the Dogs at the SCG. The crowd (32,000) was 90% Swans supporters but officially it was a Dogs home match. They got whupped by my boys altho the Swans' kicking was not as accurate as last week. I am loving watching Lewis Roberts-Thompson bloom as a footy player. From a gangly kid who didn't know what to do with the ball, he has learned, bulked up in weight, and become a real force as a defender. Has a great long kick to clear the ball from the back line. Still has a lot to learn but he's doing so well. Now I cross my fingers he doesn't get injured. Paul Williams is having a great year as well and 300 matches hasn't slowed him down.

I spent quite some time fussing with Della as her display went all weird and them everything froze. I tried rebooting twice and nothing helped but now suddenly she's back to herself.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

How is it that The Imp, sound asleep on the back of a chair in the living room, instantly knows when I get ready to change the sheets on my bed so she can "help" by posing charmingly between layers of sheets and blankets? Is there some secret cat alarm that goes off when I shake out a sheet? And how can a cat go from being a compact round furry ball to an extremely long snake-like thing? She just came thundering into the living room with those hard feet and raced the circumference. I believe she is having a spell of post-shit euphoria.

The fibre-related task today wasn't stash fondling but carding the spotted fleece. As mentioned before I have separated the all white and the all not-white-but-not-quite-black and am left with a large amount of somewhere-in-the-middle grey wool. I carded 2 batts of it today setting aside the really light grey bits to do separately. This fleece has a staple length of 4-5" and is extremely fine and getting it off the carder is a battle. In case you don't believe that I really have a spotted fleece, here's a lock and the batts. Pardon the mess but I'm sure there are other people out there whose dining room tables are covered in software documentation, chainsaw oil, and wool.


Friday, May 19, 2006

I was just looking as someone's blog where the knitter had a link to show their stash. I'm sorry but if you can take photos of the handful of items in your stash and post them individually, that does not count as a stash. That is a small collection of things in waiting but I don't even think it's a stash until you are into multiple plastic storage boxes. The acronym SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) was coined for a reason and few tasteful skeins of angora do not a stash make. Earlier in the evening I was searching kitchen cabinets for chocolate in sheer desperation due to knitting the damn WW2 sock. (And I am so good that there is no chocolate in the house except baking chocolate so I had to make do with a bag of butterscotch chips) I have finished the calf shaping for the second sock so I am about half way. I am desperate to knit something other than this damn sock. Maybe tomorrow I'll fondle things in the stash and take some photos of some of the yummier things and we can have a poll about what I should knit next. Oh, but I have the hand-spun to knit a cardigan for J and some yummy kid mohair I want to combine with some cashmere blend into an Old Shale shawl. And I think I already want to take some black & turquoise alpaca for a vest out of a box. I wound off another skein of tan merino and have enough on bobbins to ply another so I spun a little on the hand-dyed Polwarth so I can ply that. I am hoping it comes out lace-wieght so I can knit something out of "Lavish Lace" which was one of my most recent Amazon purchases. One of my goals this knitting year is to knit something lace and this book has patterns that look basic enough for me to try. I am also carding the mixed colour wool out of the spotted fleece. It is really soft and lovely.

Earlier this evening I was converting audio files. By that I mean I was taking the CDs that I had ripped from old audio-tapes, some bought as tapes and some recorded from
CDs my ex-husband has, and pushing them through iTunes and loading them onto my iPod. Since they have no track labels I have to go online and try and match the songs to the albums and it's always helpful when I managed to combine multiple recordings onto one CD and have to reconstruct. But I managed to get The first Stone Roses, 2 Jesus Jones tapes, The Posies "Dear 23" and the Counting Crows "August and everything after" from one medium to another. I've also loaded several knitting podcasts which I must remember to listen to. I am sure the record industry wants to lock me up because they don't think I paid them enough for 20 years of listening to a tape of the Stone Roses bought in a petrol station in England in 1985 and listened to millions of times since. Of course when you're going back a certain number of years I have no option. The Posies aren't available via ITunes but I was amused to see that all the Jesus Jones recordings were re-issued in 2000.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I thought the other day when I was out communing with the berry bushes that I should have called it the Day of the Parrots because I think I saw or heard every kind of parrot we have locally while I was out. We of course had the noisy cockatoos who occupy our neighbourhood in flocks of about 30. They are especially fond of the nuts on the juniper tree in the front of the house and after a flock has been munching, my entry area is covered in half-eaten juniper nuts and sprigs of foliage. Charming. Mix in some possum poo.They screach and squawk and generally fly around making a racket. So welcome outside your bedroom window at dawn.

Then we have king parrots who sit and call to each ither (they travel in pairs). Their call is essentially a very piercing "CHEEP!" We didn't have king parrots here when we moved here so they are new to the mix.

We have both Eastern and Crimson rosellas, which are medium sized with long tails and a more musical chirping, chortling call. They are very colourful but they do like to eat my pears. Cheap entertainment for the Imp who likes to watch them eat pears.

Galahs (called roseate cockatoos in the San Diego Zoo) fly over on their way from one grazing area to another.. They travel in pairs or in a flock and eat seeds. I see them almost always on the playgrounds near here. They are not all that bright and frequently get run over because they stand in the road.

Also flying over are red-rumped parrots which are small, mostly green parrots which twitter rather than shriek. They also are seed-eaters and are found on the playgrounds.

On occasion we get black cockatoos and every now and then we have a stray corella. Despite the fact that the gang-gang cockatoo is the symbol of Canberra, they have not been seen aound here. I have seen them in the gum trees behind the NLA but never in our neighbourhood.

One of things the Bear promised me when he was courting me was parrots in my backyard. I thought that sounded very exotic and it would be a wonderful novelty. I have to admit that the novelty has not yet worn off even after 15 years. The Big White Birds are the only pests I'd like fewer of, even though they can be real clowns, doing somersaults on the phone lines and jumping up and down, but the noise and the mess have gotten boring.

To look at more pictures of back yard birds look here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A brief rant before I sign off. I have been surfing and reading knitting blogs and various other things and I get so P-Oed at all these patterns and directions (US-centric) that think they are generic and call for a ball of Noro or Cascade or even Koigu. Do you guys have any idea that NONE of those yarns are an option here? I don't know if there is a store in Australia that sells them (maybe in Melbourne) but certainly none in Canberra. One of the reasons I learned to spin is because of the scarceness of anything interesting to knit with. Yes, I have a LYS that carries some of the latest glitzy Italian stuff but what I wouldn't give for a cotton blend or some silk or something a little interesting that doesn't cost $12 a ball. And as far as bamboo or linen! Nowhere here folks! Makes me damn grumpy when Classic Elite releases a new yarn that's cotton & silk & nylon and I won't see it. Grumble grumble
Writing a blog, I suppose, involves the bad as well as the good. Today was a bad day. Full of pain and self-recrimination and tears in my boss's office. Yesterday I felt no pay-back pain from my berry pruning so I did some more. Big mistake. I was exhausted as the evening wore on, went to bed early, woke up in pain and, goading myself to get at it, got up at 6.30 and dutifully washed my hair and dried it. (To those of my friends who don't know this because you haven't seen me recently, I have grown my hair long again, and it's down below my shoulder blades and straight). At that point I realized there was no way I was going to put myself behind the wheel of a car and drive to work so I called my boss and left a message that I would be in late and went back to bed for 2 hours. I finally pried myself up and got to work at 10, left at 12 for an appointment with my rheumatologist to discuss my impending disability review and the debatable prospect of knee replacement. Tears of frustration shed. Got back to work at 2 and cried in my boss's office. I was eating my lunch when IT announced that ALL library systems would be coming down in 10 minutes. At that point I decided to go home.

Now it's mid-evening and I feel somewhat better. I had a cuddle with The Imp and we played fetch with a twist-tie for a while.

I was pondering my fascination with rare sheed breeds. Why when merino is so cheap and plentiful do I go off looking for CVM or Wensleydale? I can't figure it out myself except I've always been one for trying weird stuff. I haven't spun much of what weird wool I've got yet because I have been trying to make a dent in the stash and spin the kilo lots rather than the samples but I must get over that and spin some samples just for fun. I need to learn to spin different fibres and so far it's just been merino, Corriedale, Polwarth and Romney/mohair blend. And all that white wool that needs to be dyed and spun, or spun and dyed. I'm inclined to spin first and dye later maybe because I think otherwise the space-dyed roving ends up as dispersed colour, tweedy rather than rich. Both methods work with different results and I am worried as well about felting roving because I've bought too much hand-dyed that was close to felted.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Round 7: CHEER CHEER THE RED AND THE WHITE!! The Swannies absolutlely thrashed the Richmond Tigers by 118 points on Saturday. They were playing like the well-oiled machine we saw in operation last year and the commentators are falling over themselves saying that the team will have back-to-back premierships. I'm not so sure about that but it was a delight to see them firing well. Even Mick managed to kick straight and Barry kicked 4. A very pleasing outcome and in a few weeks they will be playing here so I better hustle to get tickets.

After a sluggish start to today I spent an hour or so with my dear berry bushes. I have only begun the process of cutting out last year's canes and tying the new growth up but after the glut in December/January last year I let them to themselves and now they are all tangled together. So it's partly untangling thorny spaphetti and partly general garden clean-up. The mixed berry jam is known widely and kelps fund my charities, besides providing bowls of berries & cream in summer. The sylvan berries are the worst because they are so "vigourous" and left to their own devices would take over everything else. I will have to look up what I do to blackberries since this si the first year there has been anything to prune.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I was full of ambition to clean while the Bear was out shopping but my back was screaming so I did non-bending-over cleaning, made a pot of green tea, put the bread machine churning Italian country style. We are madly in love with the bread machine mixes from You can Bake it but discovered them just as they left Canberra. Now one of our stops when in Melboourne (besides USA Foods) is their shop. Wonderful pumpernickel, mixed grain and the Bear's favourite crusty white. I know I can put their yeast in the bread machine with their mix and 300ml of water and 4 hours later a gorgeous loaf of bread will pop out. We have a constant battle over bread. I like chewy; he likes crusty.

Book report: I have almost finished Maximum City and have decided it was well worth it. Becaus the author is an ex-pat Indian, he was able to get inside the culture, to mingle with the gangsters, the police, the sex workers, even work on a Bollywood movie, and describe it in a way that a Westerner, even Eric Newby or William Dalrymple, never could. I love reading about India because I know I will never go there. It is the same as my fascination with China, especially how the new China has transformed itself. I am always insterested in cultures changing and clashing. I like reading about that in Japan as well but I don't much like the patriarchal old Japan, despite its beautiful art and craft. I have Silken threads checked out of the library as I continue to plunder the riches of our collection. Unfortunately so many of the things I want are in Asian languages and are the property of the Asian Collections people.

Swannies play Richmond today. Paul WIlliams' 300th match.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I must have really had my nose to the grindstone this past week and need some serious updates.

Round 6: Can you believe it's taken me this long to post that my boys won AGAIN!! and this time we flogged the hated Brisbane Lions. I have said before Brisbane has gotten old and slow and they showed it one more time this weekend. It is why the once feared Lions and Bombers are at the bottom of the ladder after 6 rounds. Stupid Jason Akermanis was his usual self and punched Crouchy in front of the world, got reported and then got off in the Tribunal AGAIN. Somebody has again started the rumour that Sydney wants him and I can't think of a soul less likely to play the team-style flow that Sydney has perfected than the grandstanding look-at-me Akermanis. To quote Roosy "Given his age I think everyone would concede he still has some really good football ahead of him, but it is not like he is going to play for another 10 years. From our point of view we will just wait and see what happens over the course of the season." Why would we want an injury-laden 30-year old? Our oldest player, Paul Williams, couldn't be further away from Akermanis in all areas of style of play. Apparently Brisbane is having problems as well because hte salaries they are paying their older players prevents them from recruiting. Darling Jason has been cut from the Lions' side this week.

I had another hard day at work yesterday running around with trolleys of books and pamphlets, etc. Posted Mother's Day present to B, books to BFLB, and birthday presents to Princess A. I had a list of "best books for middle elementary readers" and couldn't find a single one in Dymocks. I have no idea how to recognize a book suitable for an 8-year old but I found 3 that were by the same authors. It's gotten to the point where I can't rememebr what I've sent. I try to buy Australian books but it's hard to find those that don't scream it by being Aboriginal dreamtime stories.

I decided to include a token photo of the second WW2 sock because otherwise there would be precious little knitting con tent to this blog. I knit on it every day which included ripping out an inch of ribbing because I discovered I had soemwhere along the line started knitting in the wrong direction. No one would ever know except I go back and try and straighten errant stitches and it turned out than one such stitch was a twist going in the wrong direction. I know i am not trying to match commercial socks exactly but I'd like them to be as close to perfect as possible once Ian has his uniform together. He is currently hunting for a mannikin he can afford so if anybody outthere has a mannikin, let me know!

have been informed to discard the jumper mentioned earlier in the blog and I have added a link to Thomas Mann's reply paper for any librarians out there who read this.

When I came home yesterday I noticed that our street tree, an Argyll apple, is blooming. A lesson on eucalypts in now in order. There are 500 species of eucalypts and they grow everywhere from rainforest to snow. They are not deciduous, but drop leaves all years round and can restrict themselves during drought by dropping whole branches. There is some species blooming all year round to feed all the birds who feed on nectar or the bugs that live on the leaves. Our street tree is the only gum tree we have and it is large but certainly not as big as some of the biggest gums. It has rough reddish bark and pale silvery leaves with creamy-white fluffy flowers. I have no idea why its common name is apple but it might have something to do with the quality of the wood. Argyll comes from the area we live in where it is native. Canberra originally planted "exotics" (non-native) trees as street trees and the older suburbs have flowering cherries, or oaks. There are oaks around a street near us. Now only natives are planted. The idiots who owned our house when we bought it attempted to plant things like lilacs and flowering cherries under a gum tree which is insane, because gums are very good at getting every drop of water that they can reach and nothing much grows under them.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

First off, may I wax poetic about THE INTERNET and, of course, Della, and my iPod/iTunes. I am so wired I feel like I'm plugged into the world. I now have iTunes on Della and I suddenly discover it has a zillion radio stations to plug into offering all sorts of music. Now I'm trying to find the radio who knows what I like but doesn't play me music I already own! I find myself wanting this access wherever I am. I am getting closer to the ideal of the Star Trek version of being able to say to the air "Computer..." I have to type and plug in and search manually now but some day...

Speaking of which there is a "lively" (read vicious) debate going on in the research library world over a report commissioned and published by LC of the future of cataloguing in the Google age written by Karen Calhoun. I cannot say in a public forum how much I disagree with what she has said. Research libraries do not have an audience or a responsibility to people who are interested in what they can get online by a Google search. Thomas Mann has written a countering essay on behalf of the LC union and it's one of the few good things the union ever did, even if he can barely keep his contempt in check. At the risk of raising ire, I think Ms Calhoun got a bit too infected by the management exercises she did while at OCLC and is now trying to impart them to a completely different environment. One of the things we had the most trouble with when hiring for OCLC was to tell people that OCLC was not a library (where they came from) but a corporation that had to think of pricing and income streams, etc. A not-for-profit company so we weren't out to make money but we had to make enough to remain financially viable. Ms Calhoun sounds like she learned that lesson and took with her into the research library world. She seems to have forgotten that serious researchers don't rely on Google searches. I had to lecture research library directors 15 years ago that keyword searches would not help with foreign langauge materials that had no subject analysis. Using LCSH correctly is not easy. I know because I have taught hundreds of cataloguers in how to use it but it's that best we've got now and we (the library community) have over a hundred years of effort invested in these records. There will never be a day when everything will be available in an online form and I have no desire for ebooks. While I really love being hooked into the network I also love books. My account at Amazon and the thousands of dollars spent at Dymocks and other bookstore contest to that. How could anyone who does research or even works in such an environment come up with the crackpot ideas she has described? One would expect better than a "give up cataloguing" argument from someone with the background she supposedly carries.

I will rant if I get up a bigger head of steam. Today is my non-work day and I spent the morning at the mall buying gifts (Mother's day nightie for MIL and books for Princess A) as well as other errands. Australians don't "do errands" I have been informed. They "go to the shops" but have no overall term for all those miscellaneous tasks. I understand that the Tourism people's "Where the body hell are you?" campaign has raised eyebrows. It's a supreme example of the irreverance of Australians and their use of the language we call Strine. After being immersed in it for 15 years I can no longer remember when I am speaking Yank and when I'm speaking Strine. I am inclined to say "I'm knackered" when worn out or pronounce a broken item as "buggered" but I still haven't adopted "lurgie" (random infection or "bug"). I still sometimes have to ask the Bear for translations and I often don't get cultural/historical references to pop culture or politics but my work at the NLA helps out a lot. While I have never seen an episode of "Neighbours" and don't know any of the characters, I know where it exists.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Bear had a cold this weekend so we didn't do much. I played with wool. He snuffled and coughed and played with computers muttering something about disc drive recalibration. All Greek to me. Sunday was windy and wet so we didn't want to be outside anyway. I noticed several branches down from our large street tree.

Last night I got about 4 hours of sleep (including a very late sleep in) due to the restlessnees of our elderly cat. She insists on spending the night with me but won't sleep. She keeps walking around on me or standing on my pillow. If I throw her out she can open my bedroom door and if I block it she just scratches at the door forever. I am very tired today, to the point of not being able to think real clearly and being quite sore. Sleep is essential to FMS folk and it has meant that sometimes my life revolves around getting enough sleep. I have taken pity on Miss Pink Nose when the Imp seems to be getting too much attention due to her forceful personality, but that's OK when Miss Pink Nose will sleep and not go through this all night roaming. She's pushing 15 but she has always been cranky. If she weren't so pretty, she'd get even less special treatment.

I spent the day cataloguing dreary educational pamphlets and cleaning up name authorities. I have a 500 page printout of headings in our system that match to the wrong (non-preferred) form of name from our authority file. It is grinding work but nobody is doing it but me.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Oy! All that hauling around of cow manure has taken its toll. I am very stiff this morning. Not tired which is a puzzle, just sore and stiff. This combination of medical conditions always throws up a surprise. There is no way for me to guess which bit of me will complain and after how much exercise. I obviously didn't do too much or I wouldn't be able to get out of bed.

On the knitting front I am still debating what to do about a sweater that BFLB started and I finished. It was knit in 3 pieces, 2 sleeves and the body which was knit from the botttom front, up and over the shoulders and down the back. The resulting sweater would fit someone about 6" shorter than I am. It reaches my waist but just barely and as long as I don't move and especially not bend over. The bottom ribbing is a twisted rib and the body is done on a knit/purl texture pattern. The yarn is Katia Montana wool/acrylic blend in a variegated greys and browns Should I take it apart and make it longer? Should I surrender to
its desire to be short and put it in the bag for the Salvos? (US=Salvation army). I picked this yarn out before I knew how to knit and BFLB never finished it. A short digression on UFOs. I always finished what I have started. It may take me months but I never have more than 2 jumper sized projects going at once and a pair of socks for carry along. I may hate what I'm knitting but I either finish it or frog it. I am a process knitter; that is, I enjoy the process of knitting and don't feel strongly attached to the finished item unless it has some special meaning. Like the cashmere vest, whose yarn I bought in San Diego with Crystal just before she died. One would think that this jumper has that meaning given that BFLB was going to knit it for me before I could knit, it doesn't. And it's not as if I need another project. I am devoting myself to the WW2 socks until they are finished and then I have that just begun cardigan for J out of handspun. This is the Leaning Tower of Wool and does not include the box of sock wool or the heap of stuff for felting or the weaving materials or the spinning supplies (and there is a large box on the botton and the small one on top is scarf-only). I used to have this in the back bedroom but had to move it when we had company and now I have it where I look at it every day (next to my bed) and I like it there. I look at things and plan and plot. I have not added anything to it in many months except handspun. I have a itch to knit something Scandinavian or Fair Isle but I would have to buy wool and I am on a yarn diet until I get rid of at least one box. There. I said it in public and now I cannot hide from this promise. There is in the mail some yarn from Elann but part of it is to match something already in the stash and the other is some red cotton for a summer top. I have a jumper to knit for S's Christmas present but that will come out of the stash. Stop blogging and start knitting! And I still don't know what to do with the too-short jumper.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I am back inside recovering from a session in the garden and two loads of laundry. In Australia one always hangs one's laundry outside on the ubiquitous Hills Hoist. Today was sunny and altho I had to scrape frost off the windscreen when I went to the doctor at 7.30, it is now about 55F and lightly breezy. If I manage to get up early enough, I can see my dr in 20 minutes, it seems, since I cannot make an appointment and otherwise have to wait. So two loads of sheets, jeans etc.went on the line. I decided to get off my bum and do some of the garden work I had been putting off so I dumped a bag of cow manure on the 2 new plum trees, then put half a bale of lucerne (alfalfa) on their patch. I then removed the tomato stakes from one of the other patches, dug up the weeds, collected two more butternut pumpkins and dumped a bag of cow manure on that patch. I finished cutting off the dead asparagus fronds and dumped a bag of cow manure on their patch and put the other half of the bale of lucerne on it. By this time my back was sore, the laundry was dry and I called it a day. I had the drip hose running on the asparagus bed while I was doing all of this. It doesn't move; I garden around it. I was going to draw a picture of the garden but discovered that Della has no drawing software on her (yet) so that will have to wait.

An update on the reading matter. "A Black Sheep" being a scholarly editionis is printed on very high-quality clay coated paper and weighs a ton so when I got about a third of the way through I could no longer hold it comfortably in bed so I had to put it aside. "Gould's Book of Fish" just didn't grab me despite its rave reviews. It is a style I would call "picaresque" and that style does not appeal to me. It came in the house as a used book and so it may exit. Instead I am finishing "Maximum City" by Suketa Mehta about Bombay (or Mumbai). I got stuck in the chapter about the sex life of Bombay and put it down but I have now skipped that chapter and am reading about "Bollywood". I really would like to see more of this genre but the only thing I've seen is the no-doubt watered down "Bride & Prejudice" which I greatly enjoyed. Maximum city is written by an ex-pat Indian who returns to Bombay and tried to describe it as both an insider and as someone who knows the rest of the world and can therefore be more balanced. I have enjoyed it so far, although it is more autobiographical than what I was expecting, which was more straight non-fiction. I picked from the bookcase "Flash" by L.E. Modesitt, which is a futuristic thriller and so far quite enjoyable in a action-themed way. As I look at the bookcase, the shelves are actually bowed with the weight of books unread.

Hope my muscles don't pay too hard a price for my hauling around bags of cow manure. I should probably lie down for an hour before the news comes on.
Work, home, dinner, TV & spinning. How repetitive life can be. And my relatives ask why I don't write? I did receive a package yesterday which was an eBay purchase from 3 months ago. I now digress into the pros and cons of eBay. This purchase was 8 oz of moorit Shetland roving, 8 oz of Wensleydale roving and some Cushings dye. Straightforward order from a vendor who apparently had a good rating. I ordered, paid via Paypal and order sent. As an aside I wish to make a plug for Paypal which is a very nifty invention and makes things so much easier for money transfers especially from those of us who do not live in the US. Banks have made it incredibly difficult to change currency and charge horrible fees to do so. Paypal makes it all so easy and I think their fees are totally reasonable. End of plug. Although I paid for airmail postage, my items did not arrive. I emailed the vendor who promised that he would fill my order even tho I didn't ask for insurance on the parcel. So why did the parcel take so long? If he paid for airmail postage, he didn't mark the parcel as airmail. People outside the US do not always make the connection of how much difference in shipping times (2 weeks vs 3 months) this can make. Secondly the vendor got cute and labeled the customs declaration as "doll making supplies" for reasons I can only guess at. Stupidity. Of course, Quarantine opened it (they might have anyway); it was perfectly legal if marked as "hand-spinning wool" and I hope I don't now have (another) mark against me with Quarantine. I am very careful about what I import and have asked questions about everything. I did not anticipate that 3 whole allspice would cause them to confiscate pickling spice, but who could have known that? Back to eBay: I have gotten a lot of absolutely wonderful spinning stuff from eBay vendors and the worst transaction was the one just described. I have been an eBay vendor to de-stash and de-accession craft books and I think in general it's a wonderful marketplace. I view transactions just as carefully as I would any other "blind" transaction and am suspicious of a lot. However, there are vendors online I have to restrain myself when viewing their site because I want nearly everything. There is one vendor Highland Cottage Crafts from whom I've bought a lot and sells great stuff, everything from Downs wool for socks to camel/silk/alpaca blends. At any rate, purchase completed, even if a lengthy one, and stuff to add to the stash, along with the black part of the spotted fleece which I finished carding. I now have to get all the dark hairs out of the white part (oh, what fun that shall be) and then card the grey and white portions.

It appears that the reason the Bear didn't want me to buy a fleece in Robertson was he thought I was going to send it away for processing and that is expensive. I have now assured him that the only reason I sent the earlier fleeces to be processed was that they were way too dirty for me to process myself. Full of stuff like shredded feed sacks that don't wash out. If a fleece is generally clean I don't mind washing it and that's what I bought the carder for.

I also got a package of books from Amazon last week: 2 lace knitting books I'll address later and Mary Thomas's knitting book which is a Dover reprint (cheap) and is one of the most thorough and clear books on knitting I have seen. Beginners' books show beginning stuff, lace books show lace, etc, This book does it all. This in combination with Barbara Walker's stitch directories could enable you to knit just about anything. Add Sweater Wizard and your imagination and anything is possible.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I went out wandering knitting blogs again and was reading Knits with cats (don't we all?) and had to take the Southern-ness test and managed a decent score which must mean something since I am writing at a great distance from the South. I only was adopted, living south of the Mason-Dixon line for 12 years and was married to a Southern gentleman for 12 years being adopted into his family. They never ate grits so I don't consider that a defining point but I'd kill for Carolina bar-B-Q (the smoked vinegary kind, not the tomatoey Texas kind). I finally got the Bear to understand about iced tea and the importance of pie in the diet. I also know I would never be able to live through a southern summer as the humidity would kill me. But I can have fantasies about Virginia ham and biscuits, can't I? Have to only be fantasies as there is NO Smithfield-style ham here!!

And we are talking about why we knit? I can't imagine life without some sort of fibre related craft in it, whether it's sewing, quilting, needlepoint, knitting and someday weaving. Knitting is portable, practical, wearable by every person under some circumstance. I've needlepointed everything in sight (including 4 dining room chairs), but socks and any other piece of clothing can be knit for everyone and even those I don't know. Transforming string or even bags of fluff into clothing is a great gift and, as somebody said, what else would I do while watching TV? Besides eat.....
Round 5: How could I have forgotten to post that the Swannies won!!?? I must have been sick! Against a rejuvenated Geelong they played more like they used to and the defense really cracked down. Jude Bolton played a blinder. According to the Australian, they had a team blame sharing session (which sounds like what Roosy would cook up) where the players told each other where they were screwing up rather than the coach dumping on people. This made them commit to play as a team again and it showed. If only Mick could kick straight! He kicked 1.4 and missed easy goals right in front. Had he been running backwards kicking over his head he probably would have made it but in front of goal is too easy. We are just out of the eight and play Brisbane this week who are looking very sorry and sad. I cannot complain when Brisbane gets old and tired after all the years they walloped the Swannies.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I had a crap weekend feeling unwell the whole time. Passing cold I think. It got very crowded in bed with both cats wanting to keep Mummy company. I didn't even had the energy to read. Back to work today, but we had a soggy weekend so I didn't miss anything except going to the Guild's annual show. I am ambivalent about the show. It is a big deal to the people who are active in the Guild but I haven't been knocked out by anything in it for the past few years. There were things that I liked but are either beyond my technical capabilties and always will be, or things I would like to do but I'm not there yet. Then there are the things that I can't even put a name to. Fibre Things. Art. I have far too much of a pragmatic bent to ever do anything just to make an artistic statement. I haven't the time or money to spend on things that can't be used. I hate even practice because it takes time and materials, even when I know I will benefit from practicing before I charge in an something new. Time is something that I feel is very finite; that I (and everyone else) has a limited amount of days/hours/minutes on this earth and I need to be careful how I spend those hours. Since I have gotten seriously sick, time is even more precious to me and I really get angry when I am laid low and have to watch that time dribble away, never to be recaptured. On the other hand, I have also learned that there are occasions with my health when I really can't and shouldn't try to do anything. Sometimes I just have to rest, even if that only means I lie down for 45 minutes. That may be enough to recharge my batteries, and if I insist on pushing on, I often fall in a heap and lose more than those 45 minutes to severe pain or illness.

The Guild show is also for hand spun items and I haven't used a lot of my hand-spun yet, but I do have a cardigan that has one sleeve about 3/4 finished that I will go back to after the WW2 socks. I have bits and pieces on handspun, enough to make several jumpers. But the time to knit was lacking, especially this summer when we had so many dreadfully hot days. I don't mind knitting in the summer but when the temperature gotes about 35C I can't do anything. There was a lot of lying in front of a fan with a cold drink this summer. Last year I sold some hand-spun in the Guild shop but things have tightened up this year and I didn't have anything to qualify. Someday I will get the loom set up; I am really looking foreward to that!

WW2 socks: I have finished the first one!! I also wound off the bobbin of tan merino I had plied (not to be confused with Dan Marino for any NFL fans out there). 325 yds of sport-weight. Someone insisted on getting into the photos. She's good about that.
The socks are surprisingly skinny but I have followed the pattern religiously. Short foot too: only 7" from heel to start of toe decreases. They are shown next to a modern version of the socks which are not wool and therefore not authentic.