Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Bear is home! Or rather he was, but went to Sydney for the day today. He will be home for dinner which makes him home. At right is the Imp posing next to some fruits of the garden, lovely raspberries (I am so glad I tried for autumn berries this year) and silverbeet (swiss chard). For some reason both cats demanded very vocally for access to the silver beet. I don't know why because they never have before and when I let them at it it was more along the lines of "let's taste this and act demented" rather than "this is what I have been waiting for!" I never ate swiss chard in the US but "English" spinach supply is erratic and bunches of silverbeet got for $1 in season. They were planted in our garden at the end of the summer. After picking the Bear up from the airport Sat AM, he went to sleep and I went grocery shopping and now I remember why he does it usually. After scrubbing the griller (broiler) on Friday (which I think has never been cleaned because I leave such things to somebody who can actually see dirt, which ain't me) and then trumping thru Woolies, my legs were not happy. Add to that Sunday having a 3-hour weaving class and then a footy match and I literally almost fell asleep at the wheel on the way home yesterday. I came home and fell into bed and slept for 2 1/2 hours.

My weaving project will be a thing long enough to use as a scarf, even if I don't wear it as such. I am doing blocks of twill samples (from Twill Thrills with bands of plain weave. My warp is a variegated wool in light blue, grey and pink and my weft is pink. I was up quite late trying to figure out what to do. So many of my ideas required 8 shafts. My attempt to find a used 8 shaft failed. I was disappointed when the course description for next term was the same as this term but our teacher said that the University had printed the wrong description and it will really be about block weaves including overshot and summer and winter. I now want to take it very much and am trying the Chinese water torture method of nagging to let me spend another $500 on a weaving course. I don't think we are going to get anything done on the land anytime soon and I didn't buy a loom so, pleeeeez?

The Footy: The mighty Swannies thrashed the Bulldogs, there was a sellout crowd (14,550) and we yelled and cheered and booed (especially at umpires who really get a serve from the Bear). I could bore you with zillions of people in red and white the size of ants but I'll only post 2, one of Adam Goodes and Barry Hall in the goal square. I think the person behind the post is Nick Malceski but I'm not sure. The other is a very enlarged photo of Mick kicking one of his 4 goals for the day. I am pleased to report that Jason Akermanis has zero effect on the match playing for his new team, after being booted out of the Lions for flapping the mouth to the media.

To include some fibre content and reduce my backlog of unaddressed items, I'll say a few words about Annie Modesitt's
Twist and Loop which I purchased because, in a weak moment at the last crafty things fair, I succumbed to a couple of spools of wire thinking a pattern was included. It wasn't and I don't know if I am brave enough to try to knit beads on wire in a house where a grey furry object is possibly going to hurtle through you at high speed. When I first looked at this book, I had a sinking feeling that I would never be clever enough to make anything in it. That's because all the projects are in the front and the how-to is in the back which it seems really helpful and gives a number of hints in how to deal with wire's peculiarities. I am still a bit leery about all the beads but I feel a tiny bit more confident having looked through the back. I am not one of the knitters who reveres Annie as some kind of knitting goddess. The
Knitting Heretic was not so much empowering to me as trying to insist her way was "better", not just equal to the standard. I wished I had someone at hand when I was learning who could have said the equivalent of "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" and let me figure out my own alternatives. All the instructions that warned of terrible outcomes if you used different knitting materials scared the life out of me and I wondered when these horrible things would manifest

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Warning! This post contains minimal fibre or Swans content and is all about me. I forgot to take my meds last night again. I have to wonder whether there is some deep psychological reason why I keep metaphorically shooting myself in the foot. And by this I mean to go back to the origin of the phrase, as in intentionally disabling oneself to take oneself out of combat. Am I trying to avoid having to do the normal acts of life by self-harm so I can curl up in bed and moan about how awful I feel? I do feel awful in a vaguely nauseated and a general unwell/painful way. Considering I am never painfree, this is worse. I remember saying outloud last night at weaving class, "Did I take my meds? Yes, I'm sure I did." Therefore I didn't check when I got home and only noticed when I sat down to drink my breakfast. Sidebar: I think I have alienated my weaving teacher by constantly bring things to class to show her which she has now not even shown the class. In our break time she continues to tell us things she has told us 3 times already so there is no doubt she doesn't think my stuff is of interest. This is a well known syndrome of mine by which I either become teacher's pet or viewed as an annoyance. All this weaving class stuff aside, and back to my main point, what is wrong with me that I cannot manage to do a simple thing that is in my very best interest? That I fail to do this task repeatedly, like once a fortnight. I wish I could do something about it, not just on a daily basis (I'd learn to ignore any alarms because I remember the vast majority of times) but after the fact. Is there a magic pill I can take to counteract the wretched feeling I have now? Obviously feeling this wretched is not enough to make me remember forever. Here I am on my day of leave feeling like death warmed over (a favourite phrase of my mother's) when I a m supposed to luxuriating in time to do things I want to do. Serves me right for sleeping wonderfully Tues night/Weds morning. Now I worry about Sunday because I have a 3 hour weaving class in the morning and the Swans match here in the afternoon and Monday I'll be wiped.

There was the minimal Swans content and here is minimal fibre content. In moving stuff back into my bedroom I have found a stash of quilting magazines and books. I intend on offloading them either free or on ebay, so if there are any Aussies who read this blog and do patchwork, and would like back issues of Down Under Quilts or Quilters Newsletter magazine (a title that as a serial librarian gives me the heebie-jeebies (see you hard I try to keep this blog clean?)) please leave a comment (with and email please!) for a list.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Round 8: We won! And I didn't even watch! I was exhausted after my rounds at the markets and you can tell how tired I was that I didn't even mention the win in my earlier post. I laid down for a nap after household tasks and was awakened by the Bear calling from his conference so I could hear the team sing Cheer Cheer in the lockerroom. I found out later that our local TV affiliate didn't show the first half and I'll bet they get an earful about that. It was broadcast in full on cable but the 7 network has free-to-air rights and they chose not to use them. I can't tell you more about the match than you could read on the Swans website (see link to right) but beating Port brought us up into the 8 which doesn't mean a lot at this point of the season but we should try to stay there. What with West Coast being read the riot act by the AFL about their off field behaviour (including drug use by their star player), beating the second placed side makes a difference.

I promised to review the books I got last week from Amazon so here is the first. I prejudice myself by saying Nancy Bush's earlier book, Knitting on the road, was my sock knitting tutor and Bible for many years so I was hoping this book would be similar. It is and I am delighted. I shall also reiterate that I rarely knit socks to a pattern, but just knit to measure our feet. These socks I could see myself knitting because they are old patterns that are only modernized in that modern yarns, instructions, etc., are used. Otherwise they are socks plucked from truly vintage sources and those folks in the 19th century weren't too wild with their socks, preferring (especially for men) texture instead of the flights of fancy lace that we see so often these days. Thee are some children's socks that include a few lace motifs and of course ladies' silk stockings. As is true for nearly all sock patterns, I would have to modify them since neither the Bear nor I have small enough feet for sock patterns as writ but with texture it's easy to add a repeat or two but with lace that's supposed to flow down into the instep it's a bit more mind work than I am generally up to after a day's work, and at night as well. I have acquired some solid or nearly solid coloured sock wool recently, where a textured pattern would show up. This book is also like Nancy's earlier book in that it is hard bound with spiral insides to lay flat. I have a few vintage knitting patterns that I should look at again for ideas (as if I needed ideas); I collected them because there were a few timeless designs in them, even if in the 1940's they wrote a pattern for women in one size: 32" bust. I also recently got a used copy of Vogue Knitting on the Go Vests, which I think has many possibilities in a small package. The Celtic cabled vest alone would be worth the price as well as several men's and children's vests. I wouldn't mind trying my first fair isle on a vest knit in the round. Less mentally riding on a vest.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blogger is behaving in mysterious ways but I need to get some words down while I still have a dim memory of 2 days ago. This Sunday was the wool festival at the Old Bus Depot Markets. Canberra's markets are so much fun for somebody like me who is more used to sanitized strip malls and not the organized chaos of markets. The Old Bus Depot is a cavernous building that used to be what its name implies but now hosts a Sunday market day. There are regulars like the folks who sell the bunches of proteas and allied flowers. When one has flower-eating cats, you figure out what they won't eat and therefore safe to leave in a vase out for enjoyment. Proteas as pictured apparently do not interest the palates of either cat and this beautiful bouquet cost all of $10 and will last a very long time. (The brown shape at the top of the photo is the Senior cat) Other regulars are the cheese man, the honey sellers, Carol's earrings, the lavender people, etc.

I was singularly unimpressed with the wool turnout. The Victorian coloured sheep folks were there but I have enoguh coloured wool to last me a long time. There were the people who sell socks, the folks from Belissima Cashmere and Signatur Knits who make gorgeous and very expensive knitted garments and kits for same. They seem to have discovered mitred squares and cables to add to their line using expensive yarns like Trendsetter.
I had schlepped a bit and was laden with a 6-pack of weird beer and a beautiful pot from a very nice man from the NSW south coast who had some outstanding crystalline glazes which are one thing I still collect in ceramics. If I limit myself to crystalline glazes, raku, and copper red, I don't get tempted by that much. After buying earrings, I wondered when I would see some fibre. When I turned around I saw the Opal sock yarn lady who had some older patterns at 3 balls for $25. 2 business colours for the Bear and one purple for me. Then I found Glenora Weaving and picked up some silk and some dyes. Their booth was mobbed since they seemed to have the most spinning and weaving supplies as well as tools and some books. Then I found Fibreworks and got some more silk, some more dyes and I was seduced into picking up 2 skeins of lace weight possum and merino, one red and one deep eggplant purple. So soft. I wonder if I could brush my possums in the spring and get something to spin? I might be pushing my luck at that.

For whatever reason. I have been exceptionally tired and in a fair a mount of pain for several days. I have no time to relax and do craft much less clean the microwave, wash towels, balance the checkbook... You get the idea. My boss actually suggested taking a day off and sleeping and catching up so I am taking Thursday off. I have lots of leaves and there are things I need to do during business from asking about building permits in Victoria to getting more bathroom renovation quotes. There is the possibility of a used 8 harness loom lurking as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I have been corrected in my posting earlier that Greta's was the only Aussie site for Knitpicks needles as there are others, but it was Greta's that I saw an ad from in Yarn magazine. This is by far the best Aussie knitting magazine and I am not even going to comment on the other one. I was thrilled to see the last issue feature spindle spinning which seems to have a low profile here. I spin at work but I tend to KIP more often, like while waiting to the my GP (on the agenda for tomorrow morning).

Round 7: Lost again. We didn't even watch. I really don't what their problem is because the talent is there but they just don't seem to gell as a team and make far too many costly mistakes. They play superb footy for a minute (which is a long time in an AFL match) and then blow it by missing an easy goal or giving away a free kick or lose possession. They have a home match this weekend but it is against Port and after that they will be playing here and we will be going. I wanted to go to the pre-match brunch but my weaving class is having a make-up session to cover the weeks we missed due to the storm damage to the ANU.

I have so far mananged to keep my vow on knitting fom the stash with the exception of sock yarn and I'm going to stop buying that as well because I have enough to last me for years. I have been sorely tempted by quite a bit of stuff at Elann, but then if you're not tempted by Elann you must be dead or not out in the online world. Now with these huge bags of alpaca sitting around I really must do something with them quickish. I opened one last night and it was all gorgeous soft light fawn and I have a completely full trash bag of it, plus 5 more. I cannot believe that these good people couldn't sell it. I might be forced to off-load some to other spinners, and my fibre swap buddy will definitely get some.

In weaving class I demonstrated the inkle loom and our instructor said it was the smallest she had ever seen but it's just the basic Ashford model. Our instructor is Dutch in origin and had only seen free-standing floor models. I'm still rather proud of this first sheep to product item, even tho it is not completed yet. Once I weave the warp I just put on, I'll have to see how it will all fit together and whether I need more, for instance, if I decide I want a wider bottom and sides to the theoretical tote bag. We now have to plan our course project having spent this week with the existing warp threaded differently thru the reed, to make open weave etc. I am torn between doing a log cabin colour and weave something and an undulating twill. I also need to enquire of an ex-student who is trying to off-load an 8-shaft table loom. How will this fit into the budget of all the other things we have on the go? Better now than when we are living on superannuation (pension funds to Americans).

Book report: My BBBB (almost finished) is William Warner's Beautiful Swimmers, about the blue crab industry in the Chesapeake Bay. He went out with watermen using different ways of catching these mysterious animals. While I was brought up a Maine lobster eater and still prefer them to all other crustaceans, I do like blue crab and try to have a meal of crab imperial every time
we are in DC. I do not eat softshelled crabs as I can't get past the ick factor in eating a defenseless crab who has just shed its shell. The only competitor to the Maine lobster in my heart is the Australian bug, which is a crustacean about the size of the palm of your hand and is all meat, no claws and tastes like a cross between lobster and prawns (shrimp). If they are available, I will snaffle them down. I had them the very first night I set foot in Australia in Cairns in 1986, and it was love at first bite. They do look a bit like a large beetle, but they turn the lovely rosey pink of all the other crustaceans when cooked and I have never seen a live one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It has been a busy time over the weekend until today. Last night I forgot my meds again and really felt it today. Other days when I am not so stressed I can coast but we've been out and about and therefore I have lower reserves than normal. I got 2 quotes on renovating our 1970's avocado green bathroom with vomit green tiles, and hated both tradesmen almost on sight. Friday I went out to price bathroom fittings at the local hardware super store and had a severe case of sticker shock. Both major bathroom supply houses were having sales on the weekend so on Saturday we tootled off and got a toilet and vanity unit for about half the price of what was offered elsewhere. I never even thought about ebay until I wanted to send a photo to my sister and found out we got a good deal even by ebay. On Sunday it was off to the mall where I was gifted with a watch. I used to be a serious watchaholic and I have about 8 watches (all battery dead). but I have developed an arthritis sensitive point on the inside of my left wrist and every watch sits on it. The watch I got is nothing special but it has a very loose bracelet so it doesn't sit on the sensitive spot. Now I won't lose track of time in the stacks or out and about. I also bought 2 new pairs of jeans that are 4-5 sizes smaller than I was wearing this time last year. Am I pleased with myself? You betcha. Monday the carpet layers came and I have lovely new carpet in my bedroom but I haven't moved all the (knitting) books and magazines back in yet.

When I turned up for my Bowen therapy today there were 6 huge trash bags full of alpaca waiting for me. Whoopee! I can hardly wait to get into this and learn all about blending fibres etc. I got a box from Amazon with 4 knitting books which I will talk about in detail in another entry, a set of KnitPicks interchangeable circular needles from Greta's who is (as far as I know) the only Australian dealer in Knitpicks needles since they refuse to ship overseas, and a package from the Woolery with some weaving supplies (coned cotton), a WPI tool, and some gorgeous hand-dyed Optim. Since Optim is a product developed in Australia whereby a wool fiber is magically lengthened and stretched until the result feels like silk, it seems a bit coals to Newcastle to buy it from the US but it was on sale and hand-dyed and I couldn't resist. It is beautiful and I had a very hard time choosing a colourway from what they had.

I have almost finished combing the last of the filthy fleece and of course this is the nicest of the lot, altho it has a bit more lanolin than I prefer to spin with. I know there are people who love to spin in the grease and that is how my first spinning teacher tried to teach me but I just don't like it, it will gum up your drum carder, and if you don't have long enough locks to flick card, you really have to card it somehow. These locks are close to 4" with beautiful crimp and are soft light grey. Now if only the woolgrower had coated his sheep, the fleece would have fetched a lot more than $8 and I wouldn't have so much sweat equity invested in it to produce 2 skeins of soft as silk yarn out of it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

This has seemed like a long week, despite my spending Tues asleep with a migraine. The one trigger to migraines I haven't conquered (aside from the food triggers like red wine) is weather: a low pressure system will frequently make my head feel like it's splitting open. Fortunately the headaches are only a few times a year unlike the weekly ones I had in my 20's. I've also discovered by downshifting my life, things that didn't used to be stressful, now are. I get anxious in situations that I used to be blase about just because they occur rarely these days. I also don't trust my memory or self confidence the way I used to which always adds a layer of "what essential item have I completely forgotten?" to any activity. While I'm being superficially calm and cheerful, I may be churning underneath. I had the world's worst mannered and obnoxious tradesman in my house yesterday and I should have cut the whole thing short and said, "You are never setting foot in my house again so good-bye" but I was polite and let him babble on and later was so angry the my gut was churning by bedtime. FYI we (which means I) are renovating the main bathroom from its 1970's avocado green splendor to something simple and clean, and only in order to sell the house when the time comes.

I am spinning some fine-weight blend from Copper Moose in a colorway called Del Mar that I no longer can find on their site so I don't know if it has silk in it but I think it does because I wanted to try a silk blend for socks. Copper Moose is a very addictive place and I have bought a lot of fibre from them over the years. They stock such a range of types (i.e. breeds) of wool plus gorgeous colours. The only slight complaint is that sometimes the undyed rovings smell a bit sheepy, which is not something I mind and it goes away with a good airing. I also got some merino & Tencel blend from them to try out for socks. As if I needed more sock yarn, and I also just bought some Crystal Palace Panda Cotton sock yarn from Little Knits because while I won't be knitting cotton socks real soon, it will disappear by the time I want it. I cast on and knit about an inch of ribbing in Trekking for moi in a brownish-tannish-bluey colourway. I know Trekking has superior yardage so I may do ribbed legs which I prefer if I have enough yarn. I also acquired a plying paddle from Down in the Country so I can ply from singles. The Bear insists he likes the colours in the socks I am knitting him while I keep saying, "Are you sure?" because if you added blue to camo, that's what these would be and I can't see him in them. Somehow I got myself talked into bringing in my inkle loom to weaving class next week which means I have to warp it, which I wanted to do anyway, so this is really just a boot in the pants.

I think it's time for a brief lie-down, based on the number of outrageous typos I have made in 2 paragraphs.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Round 6: Once again, close but too little too late. Shocking kicking for goal and the defence let us down. I admit once again to only watching the last quarter, but when I switched on, they were down by 30 points and I thought it was over. The Bear was thinking positively altho he can't bring himself to actually watch a match live (and you thought I was a wuss), so I kept watching and they got within 4 points with only a couple of minutes left on the clock, and then proceeded to miss kicks for goal and let Shannon Grant score 2 goals to seal it. Craig Bolton was not doing a very good job against him, but I'll give him an allowance as everyone was very tired by that point. Mick was still pumped, Bazza did well and Spida sneaked a goal in but all for naught. At least a narrow defeat hurts somewhat less in percentage but it doesn't help with being 3 and 3 on the ladder. St Kilda again away next week. I hate these Saturday night matches.

I forgot to take my meds last night so am not feeling all that chirpy today. I went off my normal routine as I opened an 11 year old bottle of late harvest Riesling to have with 2 enormous figs (purchased at great cost at the markets) and some shortbread brought from A Little Piece of Scotland in Sutton Forest. This led me astray from my usual after dinner pill popping. I also heard from BFLB that the bitch previously mentioned not only believed I was having an affair but made her business to tell everyone, even people she didn't like. Sigh. I don't know that it had any effect on my career and the bitch left several years before I did. She must have been very disappointed when she found out I wasn't having one.

My hands hurt today as well, and I guess I'm going to have to live with it. I always rotate projects during an evening, some sock knitting, some jumper knitting, some spinning, but it doesn't have any effect on whether I wake up sore or not. In wandering around I found this sock pattern which I wish I had the guts and/or brains to knit because it's just gorgeous. I can do cables. Do I dare try? I usually knit socks as mindless "comfort knitting" and these certainly don't fall into that category. My legs are skinnier now and one of them doesn't swell any more. (I had to go out and buy a new pair of jeans because all my other pants were beginning to give me a home-boy look and I was having to lurk in the stacks and haul then up periodically)

I emailed the city we have bought land in about how we pay our rates (land tax) and that we didn't know what our address was. I got email back asking to call and talk to them. I don't mind as I have a lot of questions to ask and since we are going to live there, I want to be legal. I found a guide to birding in the bit of national park closest to us and it's an entirely different ecosystem to what we are used to and opens up options for lots of new birds. I especially like the ones that sit low in heavy brush, are silent and immobile.

I have Brunswick stew on the stove since the Bear came home with a huge free range chook (chicken) that was on sale. If you are not a Southerner by birth or marriage (in my case), Brunswick stew is composed of very finely shredded chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, shoepeg (white) corn, and butter beans (baby limas) and has some zing to it but is not designed for fire breathing. When we were in Williamsburg I tried out the local varieties to make sure I was still doing it right. I have to grow my own butter beans as they do not exist here and the canned variety is awful. Yet another of my comfort foods from the US, and if I am feeling brave I'll make corn muffins when we eat it. Diet, shmiet.

The Imp is snoring on my bed. The Senior cat is looking increasingly creaky and her cough has not improved. ANy further intervention would require invasive tests that I don't want to put her through. She's almost 16 and I want her to be untroubled by doctors doing nasty things to her.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I have managed to wear myself out in a single morning of domestic chores. Vacuuming, doing laundry, changing bed linen and various other tidying has led to a sore hip and taken the cheeriness with which I started the day. I think it's just getting old; as R emailed me yesterday "Getting old sucks" and he's 6 months older than I am. I read an article from Sydney Morning Herald about how bitchiness is becoming regarded as not the most nasty trait that a woman can have, that perhaps a bit of bitch makes you stronger. I mention this at this point because what R and I were sharing comments about was the appointment of a particular person to a post as VP of my former employer, for whom R still works. I loathe this woman, not only because she took my job against my advice to management when I left to come to Australia, but that she is smarmy, self-aggrandizing, possesses an extreme case of trees instead of forest mentality and is the author of a discussion paper that strikes at the heart of everything I believe about the virtues of my profession. Now she will be in a position of authority at the place I adored working. Granted, I left them, and their position in the marketplace has changed, as well as most of the staff I worked with. I try so hard to detatch myself from my work these days partly because my devotion to my former employer also caused massive burnout and I don't want to get emotionally committed to that level ever again. I often get nostalgic for the good times circa 1985 when both my job and my marriage were great; but today I am happy for different reasons (when I'm not grousing about my health) and my fibre life has replaced software development and gourmet dining.

The bitchiness article also reminded me of another person who used to work at my old employer who could be the poster girl for bitch. While she and I were the members of a quartet who used to dine out frequently, I knew she was also play-acting as friend. Once she fed me a lie (that she had cancer of all things), solely (I think) to see how fast I spread the idea as gossip. She must have been terribly disappointed when I told no one. She was also convinced I was having an affair with a male colleague, an innocent enough misapprehension until she used it to kill a project which she thought I was championing only because he had designed it. No, it was just a good idea that worked well. He might have used me as a tester but I would be one (of many people) who would be using it. She was in a position to kill it and told me it was because my "relationship" with him had clouded my judgment. Appalled doesn't begin to describe how I felt about that one. If that's what is being proposed as an acceptable way of getting along in the workplace, I hope it is only being used in jest. I try very hard to be honest and transparent in my life, simply because it uses up valuable energy trying to keep track of the lies and feeling angry over things one has no control over, such as who has been appointed as a VP. These days I try and keep my head down and work my (limited) hours doing the best job I can for my current employer and not let past injustices allow me to get angry all over again.

On to happier topics: The latest issue of Wild Fibers magazine arrived yesterday and I have only had time to skim it so far but, as it does with every issue, I want to stop doing everything in order to do fibery stuff all day every day. There's even a weaving article I can take to class when we restart next week. Obviously that would mean somebody else doing all of those domestic chores mentioned at the beginning of this post. Where can you find a house boy these days? An article about Shetlands has the most adorable photo of a mixed coloured group of lambs. My battle to get the paperwork for getting wool processed in the US has made a leap foreward when we all made contact finally with the USDA Vet Services officer who is in charge of granting the certification. One of the fleeces awaiting this blessing is a black Shetland lamb fleece, and I have a very pro-active Shetland breeder in Illinois (Shepherdwoods Farm) who has at least 2 more. Chris Green sent me samples of a white and a grey that are gorgeous. Once I get the alpacas sorted, I think I will be doing some blending. I think I might have to get the Ashford Book of Carding even tho Amazon is not stocking it.