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...