Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's my excuse this time? I have none. I have been tired, in pain, grieving, busy with all the dumb things we have to do in our daily lives. I had a spell of not sleeping. I have a chronically sore right thumb that I got X-rayed this week although I think it's "just" arthritis. I have been going in later to work which my body appreciates but I don't like sitting in traffic for 25 minutes to go 3 kms. And going in late means I work later and barely am home, changed clothes and read mail before I am into making dinner, feeding the cats, etc. The Senior cat continues to deteriorate, coughing spells last longer and sound more painful, she has ceased washing herself and only lies in the dining room or the computer room in the sun all day and my lap at night. I briefly got both of them in bed with me (if they can't see each other they can pretend they don't know) the other night. I can tell by the way the SC walks that she's in pain. I hope she makes it through my trip. I've also been working on trip details, getting in touch with old friends and figuring out dates.

Grieving: still hurts deep in the centre of me. It's also loss--that part of my life is missing. All very tender areas I can't dwell on without crying and so I tip-toe around the edges, knowing and acknowledging the sore place but not poking it to make it blot out the sun. Strange as this may sound, I've gone back to wearing make up. In my old life I wouldn't even go to the grocery store without eye make up. Here, as part of a unit where I was loved for the essence of me, not so much my appearance, and I didn't care what anybody else thought, I stopped the routine. A photo taken recently revealed that I have no eyebrows and my features seem to have disappeared. Being a single (well, there is nobody I'm a part of anymore) I feel eyes not seeing a couple but a single. Perhaps it's vanity in my old age and more wrinkles than I had a year ago. So now I have a collection of potions and such that add to my getting ready to face the world time, but give me a little more self confidence in being a single, an atom split from my molecule. Now to sound utterly vain but I don't think I look my age and if I can shed the last 10 kgs I will feel even better about my Self, my Individualness, my Aloneness, the outer shell the world sees.

I have been busy stripping wallpaper from what will be the guest bedroom and I'll go back to that once I post this. I have almost warped my loom for second time. The bathroom renovations are scheduled for this week.

I am spinning my free fleece, which is so soft delicious merino. I am knitting the Mountain colors socks (did some of that during Earth hour last night). I have 2 side panels to knit for the Sakiori II vest from Folk Vests and then the collar after I put it all together. The yarn is bulky so it goes quickly. I broke the yarn diet that I have been on for over a year and bought some 90% silk yarn from Elann, as well as some Berroco Cotton twist which I love and is not sold in this country as far as I know.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here is my next major project, my first fair isle, made from Philosopher's Wool (left) in their pattern Stained glass from Fair Isle Simplified. It will definitely be warm when all that yarn is doubled. I bought it all half price from a vendor in Canada whose name I forget. The other more mindless project will be a saddle shouldered cabled jacket out of plain grey superwash wool. Cables are mindless to me, socks are mindless to me. I've never done any fair isle except some striped socks, which hardly count.

Thank G we are out of our spell of 35C weather. This is the weather we should have had in February when we were freezing. The garden is dried to a crisp as well so I can rip stuff up. If we actually get rain as forecast for Friday I will plant some silverbeet (swiss chard). The pear crop turned out to be a bust because we had bad fruitfly this year and I don't spray the tree. Very few pears were edible except by parrots. I obviously did not paint, so that's next weekend.

I have a guilty confession. I am totally hooked on So You Think You Can Dance (Australian version) and am glued to the TV while it's on (altho my dear MIL may be talking in my other ear). And I think Camilla should have stayed and Rhiannon voted off and I think Henry & Vanessa are more than just partners and I think Henry is sooo sexy and such a good dancer. Do I sound like I'm 16 yet? I watched all of the US version even tho it wasn't live and I didn't cheat spoil anything. I keep telling myself "favourite" not "best" (see above comment on Camilla). Sometimes I'm so jazzed up after the Sunday night show I have a hard time coming down. I've never watch any of these reality type contests except the dance ones, but Ten (network) has me pinned down by this. I am almost glad everything is disappearing over Easter weekend so I can catch my breath.

Hate to blog and run but I am knackered. It's been a while since I worked 2 days in a row (let alone a day with as many authority snafus as I saw today) and I need mindless knitting (Mountain Colors socks OTK) and mindless TV.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Here is the yarn that was forced on me at work. There is enough total to knit a jumper. But this is the first addition to the stash since 2006, not counting handspun and sock yarn. On the right was yet another surrender to the lure of beautiful roving, this time from Laughing Rat Studio in my former stomping ground in the US. We have, left to right, superwash merino, Shetland, and Corriedale. Yes, I said no more fibre, but I couldn't resist. I need my spinning mojo back. I'm almost finished the Regia socks and will then dive into big winter projects

I thought I'd give you an idea of what the results have been from my latest round of cleaning white alpaca. Yes, those locks are 8" long and silky and beautiful. I can only guess the animal missed a shearing which is why they are so long. They were just as filthy as the rest of the white alpaca and despite flick carding them before washing, the ends still stuck together. When I do the next lot of this, I'll cut the tips off since now I know that even if they go in open, they come out stuck together. I think I only have 1 1/2 trash bags of white, two of chestnut brown and one of black. I'll probably have to cut these locks unless they spin easily from the lock because they are too long for the drum carder.

After all my talk about my garden I thought I'd post a couple of photos even though it's in its last stages. At left are my two raised beds, the right one full of beans, the left has tomatoes down the end, eggplant in the middle and my now-deceased flat Italian beans. There is a cantalope at the front which I planted late when my cucumbers died, and miracle of miracles, it has produced a rockmelon (what Aussies call a cantalope) but a baby, about the size of a large grapefruit. In the rear is the pear tree and to the left of that is the asparagus bed. The right hand photo shows part of the rest of the garden: tomatoes, pumpkin (butternut squash) which produced 7 large pumpkins, another cantalope running with it. At the back are my limas which were so vigorous they practically pulled down tomato stakes. If you could see to your right, you'd see the "herb garden" which consists of a lemon verbena, sage, oregano, and a humongous bay tree that I need to take the chain saw to. It was just a sprig when we planted it. If you could look left you would see my strawberry patch and where the zucchinis just died of mildew. Behind you would be the 3 plum trees.

I have not done most of what I planned over this long weekend because of two thing: pain and heat. Every day that I spend time on my feet, whether it's shopping, moving my loom into its new location and tidying up the proto-studio, my legs kill me the next day. Only bed rest and Neurontin help and enough Neurontin and I'm too sleepy to concentrate. I think I need to see my rheumatologist to see whether there's any solution. My right wrist is also very sore, in the same place that I had the frozen thumb.The heat (we're over 30C for the next week) means painting walls becomes difficult since the paint dries on the brush or roller before it reaches the walls. Same problem with stripping wallpaper. This is the weather we should have had in February.

One last tidbit: I now have a link on my page to Kiva, an organization that takes small donations and turns them into loans for people in third world countries to start or expand businesses. I don't know where I stumble on their web site but I made a small donation to a group of weavers in Guatemala and I was just told their loan had been fully subsidized and they are on their way. Small donations make big things happen.

Friday, March 07, 2008

This has been a busy week but most of it has been online or on the phone. I haven't mentioned that I intend on taking a two month trip to the states in October-November. I am trying to pace myself, there will be no Civil War battlefields, I am having stops at each end before flying home because I remember how much pain I was in waiting for the last flight to Canberra in the Qantas club lounge in Sydney. So I have been busy booking flights, hotels, cars etc. Why now? Because the Aussie dollar is at record highs against the US dollar. It's always a guessing game on whether it will get better or worse, but I don't remember having this favourable an exchange rate ever, but I only knew it every day since I've lived here, because the nightly news always includes the exchange rate. It effects imports, exports, and all our dealings overseas and Australia lives on foreign trade. We don't manufacture a lot but export vast amounts of minerals and food, so the exchange rate is of interest to any business who has off-shore interests. So I was busy taking advantage of the exchange rate by paying for things now.

I'm starting with a course at The Weavers School in Washington State, then visit various friends and family in the east, and end with a cruise with my mother-in-law for seven days through Hawaii. I've always wanted to see Hawaii, and especially the volcanoes on the Big Island. If my optometrist can fit me with goggles, I want to snorkel as well, because I adore snorkeling and badly sunburned the backs of my legs floating above the Great Barrier Reef years ago. There were a few slip ups in booking the trip planning, in not finding a flight to get me from point A to Point B in time to make a connection. However, that is all good for my legs to be forced to rest.

I have successfully navigated a year of living from my stash (except sock yarn), and I suppose technically that's still true. However, yesterday a friend came to me at work offering me two large shopping bags of yarn. "No! Take it away!" I cried. Then I saw one was full of mohair. So I looked at that bag and there are several 100gm balls of Patons Luxury Mohair in white and dark blue, and some dark blue Miraggio at the bottom. I knit a jumper out of it for one of the children in England a few years ago and really liked it--it's soft and a combination of chenille and boucle. So I reluctantly took it. I had just pulled out of the stash the making for 2 winter projects: Philosopher's Wool to try my first real fair isle and I intend to steek an make a cardigan, and some very neutral grey wool that's relatively light compared to what I've been knitting. I also want an all purpose neutrally coloured cardigan I could wear to work or out and about in general and I have a pattern for one with simple cables, and pockets (very important). I also pulled out a few single special skeins for a few hats and/or scarves. I am on the home stretch on the Regia wool/cotton socks. I am brokenhearted that my toe went through the end of my new Panda Cotton socks. No doubt because I was in a hurry and jammed my feet into my shoes. I hate fixing sock toes, which I used to do regularly for the Bear.

I am listening to a podcast about the possums in New Zealand which was introduced in 1837 as a fur industry source. It has now devastated the ecology to the islands and is therefore the reason being harvested (yes, I mean killing) and why you can buy possum blend yarn. It is very warm and very soft. I have stopped feeding possums because I began to find it a chore rather than an amusement. I know I can always get them back by supplying them with bananas.