Saturday, March 31, 2007

My apologies for the lack of posts this week. After my effort last Friday I reported in the last post, I foolishly tried to do it all again on Sunday and crashed on Monday. Tues I woke with a sore throat and cough and stayed in bed to make sure I didn't miss weaving. I slept a lot and tried to regain some ground. I worked both Thursday and Friday to make up some time and came home both days and hit the bed for a nap. My legs of course hurt quite a bit even when lying in bed which is so frustrating.

Last week's weaving class included attendance at a slide show on West Timorese textiles which was very interesting as many of the styles of fabric that I had seen to date I assumed were embroidered, but are really woven using some very complicated techniques. Pictured is a woman weaving on a backstrap loom as all their hand weaving is done and the colours she is using look like they are all natural dyes. I bought a shoulder sash similar to this but smaller and it was only $50. All natural and lots of the classic red/brown colour that is typical of Timorese textiles. This week we got into twills on our own weaving session and it was quite a breakthrough. We also had an introduction in how to read weaving charts which had always been a mystery to me. Then I promptly screwed up the first difficult chart I hit and couldn't figure out what I had done wrong. Read vertically instead of horizontally. Duh. And part of the chart that I had always tried to figure out turned out to be treadling charts and tie ups. Since I have no treadles with this loom, they are irrelevant. I might try making a rug out of roving as a small project when my loom is set up. Still waiting for the Bear to put my warping frame together but he has still not fully recovered his energy from his bout of cellulitis. He takes a lot of naps and goes to bed early.

Round One: Repeat last match, with the Weagles winning by one point. Frankly I'm surprised the Swans got that close as they were very disorganized, missed many opportunities especially kicking straight. I thought the margin would be much bigger but they did manage to claw the score back. The Swannies always seem to take several weeks till they are all on the same page. Too many short handballs in the back line ending with a long kick that frequently the Weagles picked off easily. Spida proved useful but I don't think is totally integrated into their mindset yet. Mick tried hard and seemed very frustrated. The commentators said the team was fully fit at the start of the season which is not usual but their problems were mental not physical.

Other things of note: we have signed papers for transfer of title for our land and all that remains is sending money to various folks and the land will be ours. The Bear photocopied a cadastral map from a book about the old days in the Bendigo region which shows our block with 2 shafts on it. Wonder if anybody found any thing for their digging. I have had my annual sauce/jam/chutney sale at work and cleared $190 for charity and have only a couple of jars left over. My charities (in links) will be getting some money. I am still not knitting but have been working on the filthy fleece. I wound off a bobbin of plied BFL which if it turns out good enough, I might use in my weaving project. I also had a go round with the folks in the US who are processing fleece for me. Wooly Knob finally got in touch and I told Matt what Australian Quarantine wants and he's trying to figure out how he gets the required "official government veterinary certificate" on wool scouring which nobody has heard of. Meanwhile I have claimed 2
Rambouillet / CVM cross fleeces from Nistock Farms, and Matt has gone out of his way to coordinate the processing and shipping. I may add a couple of Shetland fleeces to the list while I'm at it. Or California Red. So much wool, so little time...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Not only is it raining here, it rained on our land this week! Or at least in the nearest "town" all of 5 km distant. Big belt of rain and another expected today. It's amazing how fast it greened uo here after we got rain so I am hoping there might even be a puddle in the dam. It was so nice to see our land listed on the real estate agent's website with "SOLD" under it

I must admit I am processing the filthy fleece again. Not all of it; some did go out as compost/mulch. But it is incredibly soft so I saved what looked like longish bits and am combing with my dog comb before it goes throught the drum carder. This is a case of where I really wished I had a reliable and not pricey processor. It seems that everyone is having the same problem as me with the US processor. Lack of communication doesn't do his reputation any favours.

Yesterday after I got about 2" of split ends cut off my hair, I came home to do some serious gardening which, as usual, involves digging out couch, which is a kind of lawn grass that spreads by runners. It is as pernicious as perrenial rye grass is in Ohio. And it's everywhere, including places I can't use herbicide on, like my strawberry patch and asparagus bed. The only thing that makes it pause is application of undiluted herbicide, and then it will just sprout from somewhere else. I have learned that 2 sprigs of couch next to each to each other are probably from totally unconnected parents. So I dug and dug for about 3 hours and then came in, had lunch and slept. Today my arm and hand are sore. If it doesn't rain tomorrow I'll dig some more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I think I'm going to give up knitting. Or stick to my comfort zone (simple patterns with unusual yarns). I have tried to knit the cotton tape lace jacket and couldn't keep the lace right through a single 12 row motif. By row 5 I had mysteriously lost a stitch. Knitting lace in cotton did not help me see what I was doing; it just made it harder to do the stitch manipulations required. And I was halfway down the foot of my Opal socks when I realized I hadn't turned the heel. My brain seems unable to cope with anything demanding concentration. I enjoy spinning so much more. I think I'm going to measure the Bear and start on his new jumper which is out of handspun so I will finally have something to show for my efforts. Why can I do the most complicated cables without raising my blood pressure, but lace just floors me. Is the FMS lack of short term memory, or fibro fog? Maybe I should try another thing I've never done like Fair Isle. I've got about half a bobbin of plied BFL I could wind off and dye. That would lift my spirits. Or knit something small so I can have at least one FO. (Socks don't count as FOs because they are a neverending progect-in-progress)

Someone had this quiz posted to a spinner's group. I can't remember if I have taken it before, but I came out as Shetland wool. I know I took one about knitting needles and came out as bamboo and both are pretty spot on.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I am feeling sorta cranky today, which must be a good sign as I have been miserable for 3 days straight: pain everywhere, fatigue making me take long naps every day, etc. I figure this is catch-up for all the stresses in my life in the past fortnight so I won't panic or get depressed, but I'll get cranky instead.

In catching up with various blogs, I have hit a number co-incidentally which recounted the blogger's introduction to the needle arts. So here goes mine (change channel if not interested). I started sewing as soon as I was old enough to hold a needle and made clothes and quilts for all of my dolls by hand (I had 1950's Madame Alexander dolls) and graduated to making all my own clothes and then on to quilts. My mother taught me embroidery, quilt-making, and attempted to teach me to knit and crochet. For the last two I knew how to make the stitches but not how to follow the encrypted patterns as printed in magazines. When I was growing up, there was a big box (like a box a washing machine might come in) in the attic and whenever anyone in the house made anything, the remnants went into the box so that when you needed something for quilts or doll clothes, you could dive into the box. We also spent many summer vacations on the coast of Maine with the closest city being Bath. There was a department store there which, besides having the novelty of those pneumatic tubes that whisked money from the cashier to the central office, sold off-cuts from a factory that made women's housedresses. You will date yourself instantly if you remember when women wore housedresses. These off-cuts were perfect for scrap quilts and all our quilts were scrap quilts and all made exclusively by hand. I looked down my nose at those who made quilts on the sewing machine until I moved here. I can no longer hold anything in my hands either firmly enough nor long enough to make hand piecing possible. When I went to grad school I continued to make quilts but sold the tops mostly as extra income. I was never fond of quilting process. I still have the quilt my grandmother made for my 12th birthday and the 2 "grandmother's flower garden" pattern quilts from my parents' twin beds. I still want to make quilts when I have more time; another project for retirement but somebody else will do the quilting. I also did dyeing, both the hippy tie-dye and some basic but large scale (dress fabric lengths) batik. When I return to it today, all the technology has changed but I still love it. My mother took up knitting after I left home and I still wear jumpers she knit for me in the 1970's. Aran jumpers never go out of style and when cared for lovingly can last forever.

I also did counted cross stitch until it became boring and needlepoint, which I still love but rarely have time for. Spinning followed knitting and knitting was inspired by my mother-in-law and BFLB, who also led me into the Alladin's cave of the Fibre Gods. Once you've fondled fibre in its unspun state and realize you can make yarn as you like instead of what the market thinks you want, it's very hard to resist spinning. It might have something to do with being surrounded by sheep. I always visited the sheep pavilion at the Ohio State Fair but those were largely meat sheep and there were a few weird ones (four horns?!) in a little side display as spinners' sheep. Now that I am learning to weave I can't wait to use up lots of hand spun and I want to try and spin every fibre know to woman.

So what about this sounds cranky? Reading that somebody has taken up spinning because they want to make "art yarn", those balls of underspun candyfloss, bead coated, ribbon festooned junk I hate. It's like saying that I've taken up oil painting based in the inspiration of my toddler's finger paints. Obviously, from what I have written above I've a long history in the textile arts and I have pretty traditional tendencies and standards. I would always aspire to be the best I could, not to aim low at lumpy unusable blobs of wool. It has been my experience that most if not all of the great abstract or even semi-abstract painters could paint a perfectly formed and rendered piece of representational art before they started experimenting at the edges of the medium. You have to crawl before you can run, but apparently some people are going to be content with never getting past crawling. Oh, well, it's their own time they are wasting and I'll steer clear of those practioners of spinning.

We had our weaving class last week and we actually wove 4 whole inches and I made houndstooth checks! How thrilling! I know I wove much too firmly but I kept thinking I was making something that looked like finished cloth even though I well know that cloth fulls when washed and I have left no room for it to expand. Still have erratic selvedges. I am spinning what I've carded of the filthy fleece, and it's a shame it was so filthy and I couldn't afford decent processing of it because it is really soft and pale grey with a luster sometimes visible between the lumps.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This part of what the postie brought me today. On the left is Heartstrings Beanstalk top pattern, which looks challenging due to my problems with lace. It never seems to stop me from buying lace patterns, just knitting them. I started on the Katia top and remembered why I don't knit with cotton and now include cotton tape in that category: my hands hurt after too many k2tog and k1slpsso. On the right is Sarah James Slip Stitch flower top which can be knit in different weights of yarn. Both came from the Knitting Zone in super flash speed, along with some Katia Mississippi 3 which will be cotton sock yarn. I got black (can you imagine! No fair-isle faking bright colours! Black) and neon green. I read on Grumperina's site about her search for cotton sock yarn and she has the same requirements as I do: fine weight so you can wear normal shoes, not hiking boots, and that they stay up, thus eliminating Fortissima cotton which has no memory and just sags. I have been knitting cotton & wool blends for summer socks but a real cotton would be great. It was hard to find Mississippi 3 in anything but bright variegated colours, but I've got lots of bright colours so a solid is a novelty. It is a cotton acrylic blend and I cannot tell whether it will sag or not. I'll try ribbing. I am wearing the socks I just knit today.

I've knit two whole rows of the Katia jacket that requires about 5 repeats of the lace motif. I discovered it is designed to be shaped at the waist. I am not yet confident of my body shape to knit it with a distinct waist shape, and it's an open lace jacket any way. I'm not got to struggle to remember to decrease and then increase for something that is designed to be worn open over a T shirt or singlet (tank top).

The filthy fleece is being spun so I can see whether any of the stuff I didn't use as mulch yet is worth processing (combing and carding). It is very soft and quite lustrous when I hit a good patch, but there are lots of lumps and bumps and noils as well as VM. I'm going to try and ply it quite firmly to gain some control over its fly-away nature and see. I am spinning superwash on one of my spindles with very long colour changes. I might have to learn one of those special plying techniques to maintain the colours, or wing it and get mis-matched plies.

We had a morning tea and the Library this Monday to celebrate the completion of the conversion of all our manual serial check-in records to our online system so that users now can tell with better detail what we hold. I worked on the project when we did the Australian part of the file, but went off on other various projects when the overseas titles were attacked. I am still doing clean-up work on retrospective material but in monographs instead of serials. There is so much stuff to do in our collection and I am the only one doing clean-up. Currently this involves authority work (making sure name and subject headings are correct) and moving Australian material shelved in the overseas collection to its rightful place in the Australian collection. It quite often opens several cans of worms to do either so I am not afraid of running out of work. Lots of old Library friends (people who had retired) showed up for the tea and it was so nice to see some familiar faces. They all commented on my new shape; I am at the stage of saying when is enough? I'd still like another 5 kg minimum, and be able to maintain that, before I go out and buy new clothes.

The Bear is sentenced to be at home for the rest of the week and he is taking afternoon naps. He says antibiotics make him sleepy which not something I've ever encountered but everyone is different. My legs hurt a lot nearly all the time and I don't know any cure. I have my normal Bowen therapy this afternoon but weaving class is back tonight where we will be doing a lot of standing again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

He's back and so am I. Now on oral antibiotics, the Bear has returned, a bit diminished and tired, but much healthier than a week ago. I managed a lot of sock knitting and am picking up the gusset in the first of the blue Opal socks. I like longish legs to my socks and normally knit to 8" before doing the heel flap. At home I have 2 fat bobbins of BFL, and have cast on the back of the lace jacket. I have discovered to my dismay that my diet now means that many of my favourite (and not very old) sweaters no longer fit. I have a short-sleeved top knit of Classic Elite Avignon (cotton and silk) which is now a tent on me. Most of the winter jumpers I don't think will be as disastrous but I just knit the Avignon last year. We did grocery shopping on his return and there is much fish and Lean Cuisine in his future as well.

A couple of trips into my past popped up this week. I happened upon the book displayed to the right when looking at Lark books on weaving. In the first half of the 1970's I was in graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a frequent visitor to the potters of the Seagrove area. I have several pieces left and maybe will try nagging ex-husbands to get some more back, although some of the most striking pieces (a vivid red-orange ashtray) are long gone. I have a frog-skin green Jugtown vase, a teapot signed Seagrove pottery and a jug with lid signed Z. Teague that used to hold my sourdough starter in NC. I looked up the Seagrove of today and found their website but they seem much more upscale than they were in the '70's with people doing crystalline glazes, which are one of my favourite glazes and one I collect, but must have the Coles turning in their graves. I didn't see the Coles on the list of potters on the website, but they were definitely not upscale and I remember poking around in their dusty sale room. I had at one point a set of avocado green stoneware from them but I know it didn't cross the ocean with me. I still pick up pottery when I see something that I like but it has to be special now and I still look out for crystalline glazes and copper red if I can find it. There are many pieces in this book now in various museums and I have a few bits that are of the same date and lineage, although at the time I was buying functional pottery and not "art ceramics". I still refuse to buy "things" made out of pottery that have no possible purpose or heritage. My one exception is a large (ca. 18" long) porcelain egg with the most glorious glaze on it. The movers managed to crack it in the ride across the world but I kept it (high on a bookshelf where nobody can see the crack) because its presence comforts me.

The second thing that poppe
d up was rediscovering Laurel Burch after many years. I found bags she designed in an online yarn shop and was thrilled to see current work by her. I have since found her home page and now know from other online resources that she has a rare medical condition which presumably has interrupted her career. I am ashamed to even count how many pairs of her earrings I own and now I have discovered a whole new array of vibrant, colourful images. Of course I love her cats, but her other designs of a more abstract nature are just as attractive to me. I am of the opinion that you can never have too many earrings so I see some new ones in my future.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We apologize (again) for the brief interruption in regularly (ha) scheduled broadcasts. The Bear is in hospital with a staph infection in his leg. This has happened before in a much more serious way involving an abcess and much ickiness. I will be busy going to and from hospital while trying to keep myself together. FM people need support and he is my support. I have been trying to convince a diabetic that he must be careful about his health without much success. Let's hope this scared him. On top of the real estate stuff it has been a bit too much stress and stress is a really bad thing for FM people. The real estate thing has progressed with down payment made and now in the legal contract writing state.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I thought it might be nice to post something fiber-related, just because I seem to have neglected that side of things lately. At right is my next knitting project, a lace jacket out of Katia Ideas Jeans which is a tape of cotton & viscose. It is a free pattern at Elann. I think I bought the tape at the previously mentioned shop that sometimes carries Katia. A big leap into a new kind of yarn that I've never used before, and lace which I have had problems with. I figure with the weight and cohesiveness of the tape I should be able to see what I'm doing. At left is a spindle carrying case I bought online and I can't remember where. If someone is madly in love with it and would like to buy one, contact me and I will poke around in various files. It has a beautiful covering of an Oriental-feeling bird print, and edging is in a gold print and it has a green tassel on top. I think it's great for carrying around spindles and is certainly large enough to hold fibre and a noste should one want to.

Next below is my latest spindle from Viking Santa on eBay. The corkscrew shaft makes it very easy to spin and it has all the other things I like (notch, suitable hook. I am sorry to say that the Reeves spindles are driving me nuts and until I can tinker with the hook and the slippery shaft I am giving up one them. I have lots of other spindles that do what I want them to do but I thought I should support an Aussie

wood worker. Unfortunately the design of the spindles seems to be driven by the spinning techniques of his wife who likes them as they are. I haven't had much luck in convincing her that they don't work for me. If I could swap out the hook and roughen up the shaft, they may work OK.

I also finished the cotton/wool blend socks which are displayed below. Charging ahead with The Next Socks I cast on some blue Opal that is sorta mottled sky blue with the occasional darker bit and the occasional almost white bit. I have finished the ribbing at the top and am into the body of the socks.

What about the other things mentioned in the last post? We have met with our bank and finance has been approved and we are awaiting the $ to hit our bank account. We have made an offer on the land which was accepted by the vendor so we will need to transfer funds as soon as all the financial institutions get sorted. It would be more excited except I am very tired (my legs have been hurting a lot) and I spend time making spiced pear jam this morning. I have to admit it tastes pretty nice but you could put cinnamon, cloves, and ginger on just about anything and I'd eat it. This used up almost all the pears on hand and quite a few had resident worms eating from the inside out so the overabundance of pears was deceiving. The weird part was that the ones left out of the fridge were in better condition than the ones in the fridge. It is also 35C when the weather gurus said it would "only" get to 31. The other attitude dampening is that the Bear is unwell. He feels sick enough that he took himself off to the doctor on a Sunday. I worry so about his health and his weight but he seems oblivious until something like this hits him.