Sunday, April 27, 2008

First off a couple of book reports.

Color : a natural history of the palette
by Victoria Finlay. If you are a textiles person you surely have heard of this book and I'm a bit behind the wave on reading it It is truly a fascinating book, which mixed her hands-on experiences with finding the original sources of natural colours with the history and science of pigments. Her basic focus as is indicated by the subtitle is art (painting), such as an unfinished Michelangelo that is unfinished because he couldn't get the ultramarine needed for Mary's dress. On the other hand the details of her trip to Afghanistan to find the real source of ultramarine dragged it down a bit. There were also crossovers between dyes and pigments; I don't know that ultramarine (a rock) was ever used as a dye but she she has a whole chapter devoted to indigo. Admittedly it would be difficult to write a book about colour without mentioning indigo. I think this book is a must for any person interested in the history of color in (mostly) Western art. I feel a great need for education about colour. It's a very important central feature of all my textile crafts going back to which fabrics I chose for the quilts on my dolls' beds. There are some colours I thinks just don't go together but don't ask me why. Which is exactly why I need to learn more, see more etc.

L.E. Modesitt. No relation (I think) to the famous knitting guru. I have been reading several of his sci-fi action thrillers. While they are real page turners and always seem to have a deep current of environmental awareness and ethics, I just wish he wrote better. He does so many of the things I marked down student essays on, that I wish I could send him one of his books with my editing. However, he seems to be selling well, so I guess it doesn't matter. Very violent but in a stylized and "we are the good guys" way. The Ecolitan novels are the ones I most recently read but The Ethos Effect was also very good. But I am always left with a guilty feeling like laughing at an Adam Sandler movie.

Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson. This writer is one of my all time favourite sci-fi writers. Admittedly I just couldn't penetrate The Years of Rice and Salt, but his early stuff and the Mars trilogy are at the top of the all time great fiction. The current trilogy which I am almost halfway through is about plausible, maybe not too future at all, sudden climate change. A few tipping points are reached and there are floods, and severe weather events world wide. The first was Forty Signs of Rain. (BTW I cannot understand the only 3-star ranking on Amazon) As some of the front blurbs have quoted reviewers, every politician should read these books. It can happen to you and what would you do then? The added plus for me is that they all are set in Washington so I can see every place he mentions.

The bathroom is finished, the painters are gone and I can start moving furniture so I can put my studio together and free my dining room table of loom and accessories, many cones of yarn, etc., etc. I do need an electrician to put an additional powerpoint (electrical outlet) in the guest bedroom because there's only one and when the wardrobe (closet) is installed on Wed. there will be power for a lamp etc. by the bed. Yesterday I overdid in a major way by 1) going the the National Gallery to meet up with one of the Bear's old friends who told me many interesting things, 2) going to Pialligo to try and find cider only to find they had already finished for the season (what apples do you pick at the height of summer? why were they always open before at this time of year?) 3) going to a garden centre where I bought veggie seedlings and 2 natives for the front desert, 3) drove to Spotlight and looked at drapery materials without buying any and buying new towels and accessories for the new bathroom which turn out to be exactly the colour of the Imp, 4) stop by the markets to get more fish and a few more pears (I had the choice of 7 different varieties if pears which boggles my mind after growing up with pears being the blah white cubes in fruit salad), 5) stop by the chemist to get a script filled. This morning my legs are very unhappy and my left knee hurts a lot. While I would love to rush out into the garden, I know I would not be able to go to work tomorrow if I did that. It is also very windy and supposed to rain.

I am on the last bit of the Sakiori vest, knitting in the collar. Had I this to do over I would not construct the collar this way, but we shall see. I have a full bobbin of plied heathered purple wool, which is really Bendigo Classic colourway Damson. I am 3 rows into the colourwork on the Komi hat. I see in Ravelry that many people said the had knit as written was too big which is good because I have a big head so it might actually fit. The second sock has about 4" knit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This is a reflective post since I have been thinking about my emotional and physical condition, what makes me happy, why I feel so bereft at some times and not others, trying to "be here now" without saying "everything hurts." My ethics lie somewhere between the Golden Rule and striving for enlightenment Buddhist style. This is very difficult sometimes when I'm in pain. I've surrendered to the vertigo and hired a painter to do all the painting that needs to be done to make the place habitable. I've lived surrounded by the former owners' aqua enamel on every paintable surface for too long, and I'll admit I am not able to do it myself. A simple decision but one to make without beating myself up inside about tasks I "should" do myself. I am aging. I'm not good on ladders; don't feel guilty or self indulgent. I do need to be more active and hope that I can get in the garden and do more physical stuff without cutting a hole in myself or straining my knees. Knees. Should I get them replaced? I did a bit of exercise in the stacks today and they really complained. Of course the OH&S folks say I shouldn't use footstools but they didn't offer any alternative when I need stuff on the top shelf.

My heart is in my fibre stuff but I never seem to have any time for it. I get 2 hours of watching TV with 2 cats on my lap in the evening. That is usually spent knitting or sometimes spinning. My loom has been warped for weeks and I haven't thrown the shuttle once. I have a huge bag of alpaca to card and other bags of alpaca to wash, not to mention a black fleece in the stash. All my stashes are bursting at the seams and I have plans for all of it and what I lack is time. Should I surrender to retirement because I can at my next birthday? But I do love my job and the people I work with and I'd miss all that. I don't understand how anyone could ever be bored. My social life is also on the go with friends including me in outings so I'm not always at home watching the Imp playing with a twist-tie in the new bathtub (she loves bathtubs). There are online communities, both Ravelry and the yahoogroups that I could read and respond to if I had time rather than skimming and deleting as I do now. I'd like to meet more people online since I find that a perfectly reasonable way to have a conversation. It's how I met my Bear after all.

And then there's the Bear. I still feel like a part of my physical body has been hacked off. A loss of part of me, not a separate individual. I found a copy of Alice in Wonderland in Latin in the stacks and my mind went to how much fun we would have had with that and how many catch phrases would result. As I've said, I've never lived alone for this long especially not without the prospect of change, but from here I can't see where or why I need to add courtship and a new man in my life. Except for things when brute strength is required or handyman skills (not something the Bear had unless it was electronic) I don't see the need. It's a pain but I can put out the rubbish myself. The specific things I miss are idiosyncratic to him and I doubt are duplicated.

So here I sit, debating being in the now, understanding my own mental state but very uncertain about my future. I am a planner but I don't know what to plan for. Perhaps being in the now is all I can handle right "now". Makes me antsy but there is nothing more I can do and if I can maintain my consciousness and awareness, that might be a sufficient goal for the short term. Watch this space.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This is one of four books that arrived from Amazon yesterday and I think I am madly in love with it. If you have trouble reading tiny type it is The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing by Linda La Belle and I have no link because it's available from everybody. Not only does it show all the techniques to get all those wonderful colours you covet when looking at hand-dyed yarns, not only does it take you step by step through (I think) 9 different dyes from Kool-Aid to Kiton, not only does she use many different fibres so it's a good cross section of materials, but there are interviews and behind-the-scenes photos of some of the best hand dyers we all know from Treenway Silks to Koigu. I happen to have 3 4 oz skeins of white wool sitting on my kitchen table: hand-spun BFL, handspun one ply merino one ply mohair, and commercially spun wool and cashmere. I think to the stash and think of all the white wool waiting to be dyed. And lets not forget overdyeing while we're talking about dyeing, because Sally Melville's Styles opened my eyes to the possibilities of changing the yarn into something completely different. One of the techniques I liked in this book is the dyeing of a already knitted hat. It's an idea I've toyed with when thinking about knitting socks and then dyeing them. I have so many ideas coming out of merely paging through this book. It inspired me to think about retiring our tired microwave to solely dying purposes and my MIL told me she has a single burner hot plate I could have which would move the dyeing out of the kitchen. When the door is installed as my work space, there will be lots of room to spread things out. Weaving with hand-dyed yarn! Where will this end? How will I ever have time to blog?

My excuse this week is I got a cold a week ago and spent several days feeling like sludge so I went easy for several days. I was lying in bed actually sleeping while my bathroom was being demolished and rebuilt. It's close to being finished, needing installation of the vanity and toilet (out of the dining room after more than a year!) and some minor electrical work completed. And painting. Why does my world revolve around painting? I hope to go back at the guest bedroom this weekend. This morning I worked in the garden; another skirmish in the war against couch.

For those who know what I refer to, be glad that my financial dramas are almost over. The cliche that people go feral when money is at stake is all so very true and you cannot trust anybody.

Rounds 1-3: I have not watched any but snippets of the Swans this season but they have lost one and won two and the few times I managed to be in the room when they were actually playing and not having a commercial break, they looked good. Mick seems to be in good form as does Bazza. I so rarely have time to sit down and watch during the day on weekends and I didn't grow up to listening to footy on the radio so I have a hard time visualizing the match simply from play by play commentary. And of course, I always want to share with The Bear and he's not here.

I've added another charity link to my page. Plant a Billion Trees is an initiative of the Nature Conservancy to reforest parts of the Brazilian rainforest. I've been a member of the NC for many years and the Australian Bush Heritage folks do similar work to what the NC does. Buy up land and try and rehabilitate it. Bush Heritage is on a plan to buy up land to form a wildlife corridor from the mountains to the coast. In case you haven't caught on, I really care a lot about the environment and people less fortunate than I and I try to donate regularly if not in large chunks. I try to live as green as I am physically able, have a 99% organic garden, use water wisely, and consumer moderately (except for fibre and books). I find it frustrating when somebody publishes something about tips for saving energy or water or whatever and I've already been doing all of them for years. Re-use, repair, recycle.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A few photos to prove I really am making progress on the knitting front. To the right are the Mountain Colors socks, down to the heel on the first. I am a little worried about yardage so made them a tad shorter than what I prefer. Yes, I know I could just have added different yarn to the toes, but the colours of this yarn are so pretty I hate the thought of tacking on something that doesn't match, and I have nothing that comes close to these. Here also is progress on the Sakiori II vest. I only have half of a side panel and the collar to go.

And here is some spinning as well. I got bored spinning yet more white merino. I thought it time I tried to spin some of that washed, carded and very fluffy white alpaca. I've never spun anything but various types of wool and some blended with a bit of mohair, so this is virgin territory. I know alpaca on its own can be very heavy, warm, and has no memory so I am aiming at something fine. I have no idea how it will behave once plied and washed but I hope I produce something usable. It seems pretty soft and the fibres are in the 3-4" range (not the really long stuff I showed before. I have masses of the shorter stuff to card.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: The Imp is missing. I have been having tradesmen in to remodel the horrendous main bath. The cats have been carefully locked up every day. Today the electrician came late, almost at 5. She had been with me to that point and she disappeared under the bed when a strange man entered the house. But he was in and out repeatedly, flipping circuit breakers etc. He always closed the front door but she can be so quick. Now it's getting dark and I've been out calling till my throat is raw and I can't find her. I don't think she's go far and I've alerted the nearest neighbours (who don't have dogs). I am distraught. I can't imagine her gone, she's with me all the time demanding to be petted. She is microchipped but where is she????

UPDATE: she is found!! She made it down under the house through one of the holes in the bathroom floor. Despite all our best efforts to cover every access point she must have found a hole. My dear MIL told me to sit down and eat something and she would come back and when I did I heard her under the house. Getting her out wasn't so easy but she will be incarcerated whenever there is an open hole. Just exploring, Mum.