Monday, January 31, 2005

El quicko news

My lord, I bring news!

I like not this news, bring me some other news!

My lord, I bring new news!

Just a quick update tonight. Thanks to everyone who has replied about the wheel problem.

I have played muchly with the wheel. Thanks to a quick trip to Wondo's in Tooronga, I now have a genuine ashford spring for the scotch tension, a new bobbin and even an orifice hook (I couldn't find any wire of decent weight here that could fit through the orifice). It does spin but I need to oil it. I haven't oiled it yet. Bad me. Apparently I have to use 30 grade motor oil. I'll have to see if you can get teensy ones, otherwise I'll have to order some. They didn't seem to have any at the handweaver's and spinner's guild today. Thanks to the guild, I now have two extra bobbins for a very reasonable price plus some more rovings. THis means I have more stuff to play with and a hope of plying stuff - I plied up a bit of stuff last night by winding about half a bobbin onto a book. ack. Not very easy!

I have pictures but no time tonight - Tuesday are currently for crafting at a friend's place. So hopefully tomorrow!

Have a good one! :-)

Sunday, January 30, 2005


G'day all!

Well, what an annoying day it has been. Make that weekend.

Yesterday started well but went downhill around lunchtime when my easily upset gut decided to have a spaz. And I forgot to drop some money for Goodies tickets in to a friend's place early and got there late. D'oh! And Nathan had a complete and utter spaz over things that will remain unmentioned on this blog.

Today I happily trawled out to get the spinning wheel. I had the impression it was pretty new and had hardly been used. It is in perfect working order, according to the person who was recommending it.

Da-dow! (That awful NO noise they use in quiz shows)

The wheel had quite clear signs of having treadled quite a lot. Plus it has been stored somewhere where it can get wet - the finish has water marks all over it and the flyer hooks have a spot of rust or two. Still, it is sturdy and trundles around quite well. So I coughed up the dough and brought it home.

When I tried to set it up for spinning, I noticed a bit of a problem. Now I am a complete newbie to spinning with a wheel. Even my husband knows more (but he has used a spinning wheel).

The wheel wasn't drawing the yarn onto the bobbin. The yarn would just wind tighter and tighter and tighter but there was no tension.

No tension? How do these wheels work? Well, after a bit of googling, I worked out that I had a single drive wheel, most likely an old (say about 20 years old) Ashford Traditional. It is certainly a very plain saxony style wheel, and nicer than the overly ornate Elizabeth. (I've never been fond of colonial style stuff.) Single drive wheels have a Scotch tension device on them - basically a wire with two springs hooked up to a peg-type tension device (like the tuning things on a guitar) at one end and a eye-hook at the other.

My "new" wheel has no such thing.

I played around with some wire but I am not at all happy, Jan. I've called for some help from the person who recommended the wheel, but at present it will be going back and I'll get my money back. I could fix it up but it is not worth what I paid for a wheel that is in "full working order." Especially when I will need to get more bobbins, a lazy kate and various bits and bobs for it.

Can't even get any pics, which is the other thing that made me particularly grumpy. Because we have moved our toys from room to room two or more times in our sanding the floors caper, the spare batteries for the digital cameras (yes, cameras, plural) have gone walkabout. So halfway through my photo shoot of my recent acquisitions and dare I say FINISHED OBJECTS, the camera starts beeping at me. Battery low! Battery low! Then it didn't even turn off properly. I grab the old camera and guess what? Batteries dead in that one too!

I spent nearly half an hour grumping around the house looking for the spare batteries. I found three. Each camera needs four batteries. Sulk. Grump.

So no pics of the FOs today, nor of the wheel nor of my recent naughty acquisitions. Grump.

Still, apart from those annoying things, life is pretty good. I did a bit of moving stuff back into the study. Nathan had a lovely afternoon playing in the garage with his brother - hmm, that sounds suss - making new speakers. I did manage to jury rig a tension device for the wheel but it is not good. The yarn I made is best described as novelty :-) And I had to navajo ply cos there is only one bobbin. I shall just have to save my pennies and get a nice new little Kiwi wheel instead.

Maybe I'll have pics tomorrow. We can have a picture fest!


Friday, January 28, 2005

A miracle! FOs

G'day all!

Yes, I have finished objects! A miracle! I don't think I've ever reported a finished object on this blog apart from Tassin's bag.

Unmiraculously I don't have pics cos now that I am at my leisure, we've had thunderstorms and quite a deal of cloud cover and I can't get decent shots of my little pink bolero and Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy is made out of the yarn I raved about earlier this week. She had to take a back seat to the bolero cos I really need that at work.

So I have already beaten last year's record of no finished garments! (unless you count about 50 scarves and three hats) And maybe by tomorrow arvo I will have managed to full the bag I just finished and the little swatch of a new woolen yarn I picked up today.

Hopefully pics tomorrow or Sunday. Lotsa pics - I had a big whoopsie at evil Lincraft today. They have 30% off everything in store until Sunday. So get to Lincraft you Aussies and you too could be rolling in yarn and material and crafty bits and habydashery.....

More stuff about me

We haven't done this for a while, so I figured I should dredge up a bit more stuff. Blow numbering anything - I cna't remember what I was up to and I am too lazy to look it up.


I've always loved stuff about the stars. I know a few of the major constellations by sight, though when I went to the northern hemisphere, I had real difficulties recognising any of the stars. They all looked WRONG! It doesn't help that we are far enough south to not see all the great northern stars. I only recognised Cassiopeia and she is not very visible from Melbourne (38 degrees south) at the best of times. Then again, those much further north than us can't see the Southern Cross at all times of the year, yet the Cross is one of the symbols of Australia.

My interest in the stars overflowed into what I watched on the TV and the books I devoured. Any scifi show related to space was certainly on the menu. I've already mentioned Star Trek. Heh. No TOS required, there was only one then. Blake's 7 gobsmacked me. It was Required Viewing on a
Friday night. I almost cried when Zen died. Avon was the hottest thing not on the planet, and I wanted to be able to wear gowns like Servalan's though I was only asomewhere between 11 and 14. What a hot chick, no umm lady is wrong cos she was'nt, umm help - I have no word to describe Servalan!

The 80s and 90s became dead zones for Sci Fi telly for me. None of the shows grabbed me by the throat and made me watch them. Not until a friend invited me around to watch some Babylon 5. Oh my word. This was the best show on TV that I had seen in ages. I watched three or four selected
episodes and was hooked. I had to see more. I had to get videos from England and the USA cos we were two seasons behind.

My hallway is decorated with my trophies. I have pictures of me with (or signed pics of) most of the main cast of B5 dotted all over the walls. Those of you who live in England or the US will say so what? For us in Oz, getting to see the actors is like the second coming. It doesn't happen very often. ;-) Plus it costs a bundle and you have to travel to Sydney. What it translates into is that you end up paying a goodly week's salary on your travel and accommodation expenses plus the con fee and then you have to shell out more to get signatures and souvenirs/pictures/etc. It ends up being very expensive, and can be very exciting or disappointing, depending on the attitude of the person you meet. I have some links to some of my con stuff here. Excuse the busted bits - I have not maintained it for two or three years.

I met some of my best friends through the B5 newsgroups and clubs. I had regular conversations with probably 10-15 people in 1997-8. Seven years down the track I am still in contact with a handful of them. The net is a wonderful thing. How else could I talk so easily with people around the world?


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hottie! Australia Day

G'day all!

If only I were talking about me when I say hottie! But no, we are in for a hot one today and I am talking entirely about the weather. 36 today, to join yesterday's 36. And I ain't talking fahrenheit either.....

Heh. I've just read about Bruce the Fish on the Yarnharlot's blog. Bruce is a good Australian name. So we divert for a moment...

In honour of it being Australia Day, let me recite this poem, adapted stolen from the Monty Python Crew.

"This 'ere's the waddle,
Symbol uv our land.
You can stick it in a boddle,
You can hold it in yer 'and.


Crackatube. Have a beer for us on Australia day. But none of that Foster's crap thanks - noone here drinks it. They even prefer to drink Four-ex than Foster's and that is saying something!

If you want to read a couple of my favourite Aussie poems, here's a CJ (the Den) Dennis poem Washing Day and an absolute Aussie classic by AB "Banjo" Patterson, Clancy of the Overflow. I love the way these two poems flow, the metre they are in just makes them move along so well.

Going back to the Bruce the Fish episode, I have some sympathy for poor young Hank, traumatised by the fish being flushed down the toilet. When I was about 7-8, there was a spoof of "Jaws" on the "Paul Hogan Show." Hoges was an icon of Aussieness back then. His show was very funny except for when it got filthy. We would probably be aghast at it now though.

Anyway, "Mullet" was not about hair cuts but about a mullet fish that swam through the sewers. It would swim up into toilet bowls. It had VERY large teeth. Need I be any more explicit? After watching the ongoing episodes of Mullet, I became convinced that it really did exist and if I did not flush and sprint as hard as I could out of the toot, it would get me.... LOL!

In knitting news, I have been madly working on the little jacket from CPY. Current indications are that it will be BRILLIANT! It is white and pink and has frou frou feather yarn edges. I might have it done for tonight's SNB - this is a really quick knit!


Sunday, January 23, 2005


G'day all!

Some of you will know what/who Lincraft is. Others won't.

Lincraft is the local material, sewing supplies, and general craft shop. They jump on bandwagons quite happily and have a much greater range of yarns than they had four years ago.

Evil evil Lincraft are starting to stock their winter range of yarns (nb it is going to be 37 degrees C here tomorrow and Wednesday, or nearly 100 in the old measure - perfect weather for knitting, not!).

I went to buy a ball of

cheap black wool

for my (to be) fulled

striped black and sea colours bag

as I had nearly run out of the black yarn. Cosy Wool is $3 a ball and is a rough, cheap 100% wool that I would never wear anywhere near my skin. It is even rough to knit with. But it fulls like a champion.

I had ideas that I might get the bag mostly done tonight.

Can you believe that I had to buy these as I had none of them?

8mm needles

so I can make a bolero like this Crystal Palace Yarns one, only without the Trio yarn and with two strands of cotton instead. I really need a little jacket to wear at work when the air con gets over-excited. I have had lots of problems finding a little cardi/bolero.

Only problem was that I found this:

hot pink and mauve eyelash yarn

And now I don't want to knit anything I should be knitting, like the button band for the blue cardi or the sari-along or the thrummed mitten or even the bag. Nope I want to be knitting this lovely long eyelash yarn up into the most gobsmacking scarf you e'er did see!

three inch eyelashes

I also saw this little cutie on a rose flower - he was very shy and ran away after the first slightly fuzzy shot. praying mantis on a favourite rose


Saturday, January 22, 2005


G'day all!

Some of you may remember that before Christmas, we at Casa Shandley were a little weirded out by the smells erupting from the bathroom. Eau de dead rat. YUM!

Since then we have had little rat activity around the house. Until last Sunday, when I was gardening. I heard a rustle, looked down and not 30cm from my foot was a young rat. hmm. It was moving rather slowly for a rat that is outside in daylight but I still couldn't grab it.

Later that day, a similarly sized rat (?the same one?) played pinball with my feet - it bounced off one foot, then the other on its way to the garage.

Dang! Our place was ratified again!

Three days later a SMELL erupted from under the bathroom again.

Maybe it is DE-ratified now!

I got a double yolker egg yesterday!

No knitty pics at present. I have almost finished two items - I have to do seaming and one button band for the blue cardi and the seams on the poncho weird thing with butterflies. No pics and no progress for the last day because we hired a floor sander (without beefy guy to do the sanding) and spent yesterday moving all our crap out of the bedroom we moved it into so that we could sand the back floors, then Nathan Got Ideas (tm) so we sanded the front bedroom and ripped the carpet up in the hallway too.

Can I just say that it is surprisingly hard walking the sander up and down a room? It seems to weigh a tonne and does not like going backwards (naturellement since it has a spinning wheel that spins in a forwards direction). I am truly surprised that I got a good night's sleep cos I over-did the shoulder thang and Mr Whingy Shoulder usually carries on if I aggravate it. As it was, I woke up this morning (at 7:30 on a Sunday! Ack!) with Mr Whingy Shoulder and arm hyperextended over my head, and he didn't whinge a bit! Odd!

Not much chance of knitting or spinning today either - we have to finish the last bit of sanding (the hallway, or maybe we will leave that until when we do the loungeroom) and start tung oiling the floors. Nathan has promised to pick up a keybaord from MILL PARK! Egads, that is on the other side of Melbourne, at least an hour's drive away (this is when I hate living in a big city). I have to drive him because I am not game to let him drive my car across town - the manual gear stuff is nto one of nathan's fortes. If I am really lucky I'll get to the knitty meeting in Caulfield at a cafe there - maybe we can set the time up for the Mill Park pick-up and have arvo tea at the knitty cafe.

Hmm, while I think of it, our place has always been quite cold during winter. We can have the gas central heater (not like a boiler, just a gas burner that heats air which is blown by a fan through tubes and ducts in the floor) going full bore and never get the temperatures to 20 degrees C. Yesterday we think we found out why.

Yep, those are honking great gaps between the skirting boards and the floorboards. (Note that the floors were sanded and estapoled or something previously). The gaps are between 1 and 2.5cm wide. My first thought upon seeing those gaps was "Imagine what horrible hariy spiders could crawl thorough those gaps!" But that was a terribly girly thought for someone who has been watching the black house spider (two links there) set up home in the kitchen window. My next thought was "Argh, MICE could get through those gaps quite easily!" Considering the mouse problems we've had, I think this is a somewhat more reasonable call :-)

The skirting boards appear to have been set up so's to line up with the carpet. Weird, eh? We are going to get some gap filler. Not pretty but effective. And maybe, just maybe, even though we've taken away the insulating underlay and carpet, we'll have a warmer house this winter!


Friday, January 21, 2005

Remember this?

G'day all!

Let's start with some very important news. Here is my husband's new blog: Nathan's blog. Go read it, be gobsmacked by what nathan gets up to when he should be writing his PhD up. And leave him a comment cos he is feeling all left out and lonely cos noone is commenting on his blog. I know how he feels!

Does anyone remember that I am a member of the Yarnharlot's thrum-along?

Well I am.

Here is the first mitten, without a thumb. This is the third go at making a very simple mitten. It does help when you use the correct size needles.... I could not figure out why it was sooooo small on the first go.

thumbless blue thrummed mitten

You will note that whilst the patterns say put a thrum in every third stitch, I have put one in every fourth stitch.


And my hand is much too big for the mitten - this is a ladies size and whilst I like to call myself a lady, on occasion, I certainly do not have lady-size hands.

Oh well, someone will get a less well thrummed mitten! They are not much use to me here in Oz cos let's face it, the coldest it has ever been where I live is about -5C and that occurs about once in 10 years. I am contemplating sending them to Stephanie to see if she can give them to someone who needs half-thrummed mittens.

Anyway, we have to move stuff around so we can sand the floor in the study study.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Good blogger!

G'day all!

Today I am a good blogger. You wanna see why?

Here's a really bad pic of the blue cardi. (mental note to self - get DH to take pics of garments if I am modelling them - it is hard to take pics of oneself and I hate using the bathroom mirror to do so - no natural light)

blue cardi half sleeved and half finished

As you can see, it only has one sleeve and it is quite breezy on one side. LOL!

I am still spindling away - here is what I made last week. Some lovely alpaca all spun up and ready (almost) to go - gotta set the twist yet. It is very badly arranged on the spindle but I was really struggling to get the plied yarn to fit on the spindle - next time I'll use a bigger spindle for plying. There is over 60m of yarn on that spindle. I may well dye it.

whie alpaca yarny goodness

BTW, that is our newly sanded and tung oiled floor in the background. The colour is really a somewhat lighter than it appears in the photo..

This is the lacy wrap um poncho um whatever it is that I am knitting out of some yarn from Marta, along with a closeup that does not really show the little plastic butterfly beads very well at all.
wrap poncho thingie spot the butterfly beads

I am participating in the I'm so sari along , with an elite group of ladies (there's only a handful of us). I've been trying to find a use for two skeins of sari silk I bought. I am quite quickly ascertaining that I don't like knitting with it. This is me, who knits with any novelty yarn you can pick and is happy doing so. But the sari silk is overspun, dirty, really rough on your hands.... I feel sorry for the ladies in Nepal or wherever who have to spin the stuff. I get the feeling they are dealing with the scraps that are swept off a dirt floor, their hands must get roughed up pretty badly by the scraps and yarn they spin.... I bought mine on the net, so I didn't get a chance to feel it or pick out the colours I like. Here's a pic of my scarf, which is somewhat longer now.
prettiness in a rough package

For all that it is not nice to knit, it is quite nice to look at.

Let's move away from the knitting and spinning for a moment to bring you an update on Summer here in Melbourne.

Here's some of my corn (can you see that the lettuce are imitating the corn and climbing for the sky too?). This is the tallest corn I have ever grown and is nothing to that I saw in Wisconsin in 1999.
corn heading for the sky

And a Royal Gala apple ripening on the tree - this is its biggest apple ever!
yummy gala apple

And the STRAWBERRIES! OK, so I could only get a few in the picture but we have STRAWBERRIES!
luscious almost ripe strawberries
I don't know why I am so excited about them - I only like eating them when they are smushed up in something else.

I've got some more bits and pieces to share, but these can wait. Don't want to spoil you now, do I? ;-)


Monday, January 17, 2005

We interrupt this blog to make an announcement

G'day all!

I shall put up a second post soon, I hope, with PICTURES!

I've been having a think about my stuff about me and identity fraud. Dunno why but some little alarum bell went off in my head. I think I am being too trusting. I am sharing life events and attitudes with people I don't actually know. Not that many people read this blog, so i reckon I am probably ok. It is more the search engines that I wonder about.

So I'll post more stuff but I will also pull it down again after a week. If you want to keep that info, you'd better save the page or copy and paste it.

hint for today - make sure that you press the f key when you are typing life. Otherwise it comes out as lie and you only realise when you've published your blog....


Still no pics!

G'day all!

i am such a bad blogger! I can't give you pics today because;
a) nathan downloaded all of last week's somewhere that I can't figure out, and
b) I can't download the pics on the camera because we've just moved all the computer gear out of the study and I can't for the life of me find the cable that hooks the camera to the computer.

Is that a weak excuse or what?? You'll just have to whip me, beat me and make me speak Gaelic. I'd probably enjoy it. After all, I've got both Scottish and Irish blood in me. And I'd whinge about the process a lot cos I am mostly Pom. ;-D

Well I don't have much knitting progress to report anyway. I have not finished anything for ages - I have too many projects on the go at once. I should finish the blue cardi by the end of the week at my current rate of progress - HUZZAH! I would show you pics of it as it is - half made up but without one sleeve, a side seam or the button/neck bands. But I won't cos I am a bad, naughty blogger! Spank me!

I am making a little wrap out of some yarn I bought at Marta's yarns a while ago. It was two strands of laceweight two ply of hand-dyed mauve/pink/blue merino plied up with a matching mohair (or mohair silk blend). I painstakingly pulled it apart during Christmas at Thredbo (much to the bemusement of the people we were staying with) and started a little wrap. Well the wrap is becoming a poncho (more a poncholette) just because. When it is more obvious as to what it is, I'll get a pic or two of it. It is very very pretty. I am going to have to beat all the 6 year old girls in Melbourne off with a stick cos they will want it.

Nathan's blue socks? What socks?

By the way, if a four year old tells you you are spinning the wrong way, don't necessarily believe him. Especially when he has only just found out what spinning is by you telling him. Especially when he asks why bother spinning when you can buy yarn. Why bother digging in the dirt so you can play with your cars when your parents can buy a plastic garage for you to play with your cars in?

When I find the cable for the camera, I'll get some pics of the spindling I've been doing. I have got a lot of yarn now, admittedly some is pretty rough but nyeh it is handspun! It is mean to be a bit lumpy in my books. If I wanted my yarn to be perfectly smooth I would go and buy commercial yarn. I have no idea what to do with the yarn, particularly as at one point of one lot of roving I decided to go for lace weight after aiming for 8 ply/DK/worsted....

Time to bore you all witless with (drum roll puh-leez) More Stuff About Me.

I've realised that I talk a lot about my PhD. I am not trying to impress anyone - I sometimes step back and go whoa! I've got a PhD! I must be brainy or something! I am not trying to belittle anyone. I talk about it a lot in my 100 things about me because my PhD was a voyage of self-discovery. I grew up then. You would've thought that watching my mother die would help that a bit but no, I was always the baby of the family and protected even then at the age of 24. Nope, I grew up when I had to struggle through the PhD, a broken relationship, things that I regarded as betrayals by friends who had made certain promises to me, etc.

31. I work as a training consultant at AXA in Melbourne. People ask me how I came to work there. Easy. I needed a job when I finished my PhD and AXA needed bodies with analytical brains attached. There is not a lot of money for scientific/medical research, particularly in the subject of my PhD, in Australia unless you are doing molecular biology (genetics). I loathe mol biol lab work - something to do with Honours. I did not want to go overseas. America was the only place I could go that had similar sorts of labs. The American fellowship system scares me witless - hire 10 people and see who comes out with a result, hire them, sack the rest. Plus no offence to Americans, but your country is doing some crazy, screwed up things under the current administration. Makes my country look almost positively benign.

32. I take offence to the idea that if I go to an ally nation (ie the USA) I must be finger printed (goodle US-VISIT). I have never even had a traffic/driving fine. I am not a criminal and have no intention to be. We have plenty of prisons here that I could be locked up in and no Guantanamo Bays. But the US government in its wisdom has decided that this must be done. Because you never know who the traitor is going to be!

33. My PhD looks at fetal fluid balance in the sheep. I used various means of looking at the tissues, including electron microscopy, in situ hybridization and various other histological techniques.

Did you know that the sheep has many small placentas spread across its uterus? Plus the uterus is shaped like two cornucopias stitched together (and with closed mouths). I became an expert in classifying the shapes of the little placentas (called cotyledons). The cotyledons are an indicator of maternal stress - they change shape if the mum is stressed or in late term (probably stressed again - it is hard work being 55kg with a 3.5kilo baby on board! Just ask any mother!).

34. Sitting in a dark room with an electron microscope, then going to a darkroom to develop your negatives and then another dark room to print the negatives is a really good way to avoid getting a tan. Indeed after three months of this in winter, you are more likely to start looking like Smeagol than a human being.

35. My housemates were always very wary when I came home with blood on my glasses and a leg of lamb in my bag.

36. I lived in one house for the first 25 years of my life. Since then I have lived in four places, two of which were in the same street.

37. I go stir crazy when I have to live in a flat. I need to potter in a garden when I feel the urge (quite a lot when I am stressed). I lived in a flat for nine months with an ex-ex housemate. It was cheap but we were both going potty.

38. I have a passion for David Austin roses, old garden roses and Australian native plants. I prefer native plants that are hard to grow and regularly turn their toes up. If it comes from Western Australia and is difficult to grow in the more humid east, then I WANTSES it! Isopogons, petrophiles, verticordias, wax bushes and correas are my favourites. I also like old fashioned garden plants - bearded irises, weird lilies, basically the stuff that Mum had in her garden. Plus I have a small collection of citrus and a number of dwarf apple trees.

39. Since we rent, most of my plants are in pots - I do not want to lose them if we move. Nathan has double the number of plants that I have. He likes native plants too and has a passion for Stylidium (trigger plants). Our plant collection has taken over most of the yard. I think it will be heading for the roof soon (I hope Nathan doesn't read this!)

40. Indoors I have five African Violets (Saintpaulias) that I rescued from the sales bins at shops. I felt sorry for them and thought I could give them a better home (not too sure about that!). When I was 15, apart from wanting to be Spock, I wanted to grow the Queen of the Show african violet. My parents had a friend who had the most amazing collection. She had thousands of the blighters and grew them well. She sometimes sold me some of her younger plants. I had my collection until I was about 28, when a mite went through them and wiped them out.

African Violets are much tougher than you might think. Make sure you don't overwater them ? they hate having wet feet - keep them at temperatures you like (no canadian holding off on the heat here!), give them good window light (not sunlight) and the odd feed of AV fertiliser and they will reward your for months or even years. Don't grow them with cyclamen - cyclamen carry a mite that is fatal to AVs.

41. My favourite movie is Star Wars (A New Hope) and has been since I was not-quite-a-little-tacker. It took me to a different universe. I enjoyed the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (let's face it - I am a *total* fan boy) and then had to wait another 15 years for the first trilogy to start. I have been totally underwhelmed to date. They are ok movies but they just do not make me feel the same way.

42. Peter Jackson's "the Lord of the Rings" trilogy has blown me away. I think Star Wars is still my fave movie but these three movies are just gobsmacking. I have watched every movie Peter Jackson has ever made. When I heard that the star and driving force behind Bad Taste was making the LotR, I nearly fell over backwards. Bad Taste was such an amazingly bad movie with some truly gross scenes - I can strongly advise that you don't watch it during dinner like we did. Watching Derek (PJ) put what we really hope is part of his brain (and not just a squashed seagull with egg and lots of guano) back in after a massive falls really is enough to make you feel queasy. It nearly made me chuck. Heh. In looking at that link, I see Bad Taste is banned in Queensland here in Oz, and also in Ontario, Canada. They do things differently up in Queensland.

Enough! You have better things to do!

oh and thanks to those who suggested places, ok a place, to check for spinning wheels for sale. I also asked Marta - she said she knows of someone with a perfectly good wheel, lots of accessories, that is going for $100. Sounds good to me - hopefully the wheel and I will get along. Not that I have ever spun with a spinning wheel before.... maybe this one can be my beginner wheel that I learn on and after I've saved lots I can get a whiz-bang one!


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Imagine a blue cardi here

G'day all!

I am such a bad blogger. I don't have pics of the blue cardi yet. But that is ok, cos it is a blue cardi without the left sleeve and the button bands, so it isn't really finished yet.

The cardi is looking good, I have to say. The square top on the sleeve shoulder is causing a minor bit of grief but I can deal - the grief is on the back side and I only see that if I bend myself oddly to look in the mirror.

I got some prices on spinning wheels today. $900. Ouch. I think that they are a little beyond my price range at this stage. I am going to have to save up to get a new one. Even second hand ones cost $500 in the Trading Post. Except for the two I just found, only the people won't answer their phones. So if anyone knows of a good wheel cheap, let me know. I've got about 1600g of alpaca to spin up and at my current rate of about 50g a week, this is going to keep me busy for a loooooooong time! Plus there are such luscious rovings and tops out there....

So bad me, no pics again. But soon! Soon! You will be bored witless looking at pictures ofthe blue cardi and the newly sanded and oiled floors.

More stuff about me. I know I am boring you witless cos you just are not leaving any comments at all. Like if I get one comment a week, I feel I am doing reallllly well!

23. I got a high IIa in my honours degree. This means I did not get first class honours but I did better than I had ever done in any subject since about year 11 at school. Mum would've been proud but she had died six months earlier. I am surprised that I did as well as I did.

24. One thing I really liked about working at Social Security was that I moved from a city branch to a local branch only 15 minutes ride on my bike away from home. Every morning I could drive down if the weather was bad or make the dash on my bike. I loved that bike. It was my first real bike with hand-brakes and 21 gears. It fitted me so well. I have never had another bike like it.

25. My bike was in the back of my previous beloved Falcon (car) when that car got stolen 7 years ago. Neither was recovered.

26. For want of a real job outside of Social Security, I decided to pursue a PhD. I thought Mum would like that. Mebbe she would've. Anyway, Mum, this one was for you.

27. My PhD has been both boon and curse. I struggled and clawed my way through it and survived. That really surprised me. I had grown a whole heap since I was a newbie at uni. Now I am waaay overqualified for any job except university lecturing. I have a range of wonderful skills but I think the terrible letters PhD make many places scared of me. "Ohmigod she is too bright and will get bored working here." Heh. You try doing a PhD, sonny-jim, and see how bored and frustrated and sick of it you get! You get stuff all money and a helluva lot of abuse and woe. The PhD taught me exactly how far I would go to achieve something I wanted to achieve.

28. The biggest hurdle in a PhD is yourself. It is not the work or your supervisor, it is YOU. How far will you go? What will you give up to achieve this qualification? How pig-headed are you?

29. My PhD granted me courage, strength and self-esteem. I used to be terrified of public speaking. I found that I could stand up in front of an audience of 200 people and give a talk without being so terrified that I got stage fright and lost my voice. Why? Well they did not know what I was talking about so I had to teach them the value of my work. That was daunting but exciting. I learned to take the negative part of fear and make it work for me, make it a positive, exciting force. When I was young, there were times I thought that I was worthless, yet I found worth in simply being me. I was as good as the next person. I was not a shy, frightened child anymore. I had finally grown into me. Only took 30 years.

30. Still didn't mean that I knew what I wanted to do.

Enough for today!


Monday, January 10, 2005

cardi and more stuff about me

G'day all!

As you may remember, I am making a blue cardi. I was a bit crook on Friday and did not go into work cos I was sick of being a bit crook and took me to the doctor.

It is amazing how much of the front I knitted whilst waiting two hours to see a doctor. I did about 4 waist shaping increases, the stretch to the arm hole, the arm hole shaping, and all the way to the top! Then I did the first 40 rows of the next side of the front.

At least waiting that long had one good benefit - the dr prescribed a one-shot antibiotic that wipes out Giardia. I have been *much* better since then. Hooray! This problem has been plaguing me since I went to Western Australia way back in September! I was tested for it (look, you really don't want to have to be tested for it cos a) it is yucky and b) the tests aren't very good cos they have to be lucky to see the rotten little sodding parasite in the, ahem, samples you provide). I cna pinpoint where I got Giardiasis too - I remember very clearly thinking ooops after using the local water on the Nullarbor to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth out with.

Then we watched the extended version of Return of the King after borrowing the DVDs from nathan's parents. We watched half of it on Saturday night and the other half on Sunday. I knitted like a demon whilst watching the battle scenes - I hope it is even enough cos I was getting a bit tense and upset. LOL! And tearful on occasion: Faramir's troops going to to fight a battle they could not possibly win, the charges of the cavalry (ok Riders of Rohan and the Knights of Gondor, such as remain) against the huge numbers and the oliphaunts. Even things like Eowyn being one of the greatest warriors of Rohan. I've turned into a big girlie wuss!

I sat down and listed the things I am currently working on (read have worked on in the last week):
  • the blue cardi
  • Nathan's blue socks
  • the blue, pink and mauve lacey wrap that I have not mentioned before
  • a felted bag in black and beautiful sea colours (ie more blue!)
  • the blue and white thrummed mittens that I started in November
  • the purple diagonal scarf(NO BLUE! but close....)
  • a jazzy lurid green eyelash scarf to replace the one I gave away at Christmas (it has little bits of blue in the underlying bobbly stuff)

Dang it! Can't find a picture of Brasil/Brazil by Filatura di Crosa anywhere. That is the eyelash yarn I made the scarf from. Google can't find it! FdC does not seem to have a website. It is gobsmacking to me that I cannot find a pic of it. Guess I'll have to get a shot of the scarf itself, but hold your horses for that!

Do you think I am in a blue phase? Well I am not! It is just coincidence. i am dying to start the pink and creamy white cardi so that I have something semi-decent to wear with my new pink skirts and tops at work when the air-con gets over-excited (which happens a lot). I bought a pair of bright pink and white patent leather shoes for, get this, a WHOLE FIFTEEN DOLLARS, yes $15 today. Man do i like my new shoes!

Enough blathering. Do you want more of the things about me? You'd better!

More things about me

Last we listed anything, I had talked about some of my early life but glossed over most of it. After all, I didn't really start living until I was in second year at uni. OK. Let's do this first kiss thing. Hope M doesn't mind - haven't seen him for at least five years, don't know where he lives now or what he is up to.

8. My first kiss was on a bus by Syndal station. So what? Well, I was 19.5 years old. Most people have worked out the kissing game by then but not me. I did not talk to boys then. M turns to me and tries to land a kiss on me just as the bus jolts to a halt. LOL! It was YUCKY! Slobber everywhere. I think I giggled most of the way home.

9. I am a biologist. I always have been. I used to love watching bugs and rarely worried about picking them up (though I learned to stay away from some cos they release nasty smells). I would follow ant trails from one end of home to the other. Various of my pets have included cats, budgies, fish and terrapins. Plus a range of poor little skinks that would die ofstarvation cos I could not find enough of the foods they eat (mostly insects). I watched all the gardening shows and natural world documentaries on TV that I could. "Life on Earth" made David Attenborough an ongoing hero to me.

10. I would love to meet Sir David Attenborough and have him as my mentor.

11. I loved planting things and watching them grow. I still do. I can remember planting beans in the back yard with the old man when I was five or six and every day I'd go outside and encourage them to grow.

12. I learnt quite early that if you keep digging seeds up, they don't grow so well.

13. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little. I loved watching pretty much any TV show about space, whether or not it was true. Carl Sagan's Cosmos simply blew me away. I loved the original Star Trek, and tried to be Spock for a whole year when I was fifteen. (So what if I was blonde, female and not exactly a Vulcan?) . It seemed that to be an astronaut, one had to be a jet fighter pilot with perfect eyesight. I have really crap eyesight, so I could not be an astronaut via normal routes. So I decided I would cure cancer. Nothing like setting your sights high!

14. It is sad that Carl Sagan is dead for he is the other chap I would have loved to have met and had as a mentor. His vision and ability to explain complicated concepts was amazing.

15. When I got to uni, I discovered that I had to be good at chemistry to do immunology. I was not interested in chemistry and did not do well in it. Same with maths. I really enjoyed zoology, botany, physiology, genetics and geography (particularly the history of man and biogeography). This did not lead to a career in immunology and curing cancer.

16. By the time I finished my undergrad studies, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I did not get top marks in any subject because I still never really studied effectively or pulled out all the stops. I did enough to earn credits, but not distinctions. The thing I was best at doing was learning. So I decided to do honours.

17. Genetics honours was a disaster. The topic I chose was one that was normally run by someone who was said to be the BEST supervisor in the faculty. Only he went on sabbatical and I ended up with someone I did not get along with at all. She despised me from the moment we met. I hated doing any work to please her, and it didn't help that her star student was in the same lab as me and we had to share the one set of equipment (which meant that if she got in first, which was inevitable cos she was in by 7:30 every day, she got the equipment). I ended up going and getting a full time job with Social Security. They were delighted that I had come to work for them - someone must've gotten my scores in the test you had to sit. It was pure drudgery but it paid me some money. Maybe I should've held out for a better job in an area that was interesting to me!

18. I nearly went out with the brother of the girl I was sharing the lab with.

19. I went back the next year and did honours in Physiology (more anatomy). I could only attend two days per week as I had to work. My parents were on the old age pension and struggling to keep me. Mum always insisted that I should not have to work. She had had to leave school at 14, even though she was a very promising student, to help support her parents and younger sister. Honours was the first time I was truly challenged, and I had my supervisors on my back to keep me on track. There were other problems at home too.

20. Mum died of cancer when I was completing honours. She had first been diagnosed when I was with M. Part of her bowel was resected, she did some chemo and refused to go back for followup. Four years later she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. When they scanned her, they found tumours through her bowel and stomach. The bowel cancer was back with a vengeance. Lots of chemo followed but after 8 months we knew what the outcome would be. We had been watching Mum slowly get worse and worse. She had always seemed so healthy and able to do anything, but she could
not even go shopping any more. The cancer had spread to her lungs and she could no longer breathe without oxygen supplementation. Nearly 11 months after the second cancer diagnosis, after a long and agonising fight, Mum died. Her sister had died of breast cancer 6 months earlier. Margie had not had breast lumps checked out and the cancer had spread to her bones. It was a shockingly painful way to die - simply touching her or the weight of her own body was breaking bones.

21. Having seen two people I love die so slowly and painfully has made me an advocate for informed euthanasia. I would like people to have the choice of ending it when it gets too much to deal with any longer. Mum fought to the bitter end - her last words after days of delirium were "I hope you don't think I am going to die!" No Mum, we don't. We did not think she was going to die, we knew.

22. When Mum died in the hospital, I was at home washing the dishes. It was about 7:25pm. Most of the family was there except for my father and brother I think. I heard Mum call me from the loungeroom. I looked up at the clock, put down the washing sponge and started taking off my gloves, then realised she could not have called me. A couple of minutes later we got the phone call.

Hmm, what a cheery note to end on. Ah well, things get better I think from here on up!

Pictures next time - I am nearly done with the blue cardi! Plus the amazing eyelash scarf.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

A multitude of things about me

G'day all!

I am well and truly back at work now. Work is not engaging me at present. It is not engaging my team mate either - she is working on designing financial training. I am looking at dispute resolution training. I think I win in the interesting stakes - at least you get to have a bit of fire when you look at disputes. Financial training is much more likely to make a person want to create a bonfire and burn the lot. I sit and daydream about playing with my lovely fleece (I am well aware that it will spin up an ugly mottled brown and white/grey colour). Some of it is quite dark and some is quite grey/salt and pepper.

darker fleece light grey fleecey goodness

Last month's craze was to write a hundred things about oneself on one's blog. I've thought about this for a while and I reckon I can string it outfor a while. It is interesting seeing what other people think is really important to reveal about themselves. For me, we'll start with the ancient past. You'll get more than 100 things in all this lot - I love a good chat!

1. I was born in Melbourne, Australia, the fourth and last child of Jack and Betty. I was the baby of the family and a sickly thing - I got every bug that went past and developed bronchial asthma at the drop of a hat. It turns out that my doctor then was a highly qualified paediatrician - Dr Duke. To me he was just the scary man with the cold stethoscope that he used to listen to my chest. Mum coddled me lots ? too much now I believe.

2. I lived in the one house for the first 25 years of my life, finally moving out when I could not stand listening to my widower father's snoring any more. That house is still Home even though I don't live there any more. Home was sold in 1998 I think.

3. I went to only two schools, Mullum Mullum Primary and Norwood High. Mullum was literally over the back fence (or through it until a tree knocked the fence and the gate down) and Norwood was right next to Mullum. I hated school. I was painfully shy and terribly bright and the other kids teased me unmercifully. My best friend was another shy, bright little blonde girl called Lynne. She had freckles and glasses. I didn't have freckles but should have had glasses. We played horsies on the school oval. One of our teachers called us the "terrible two" because we sat up the front, attended to our lessons and finished all our "homework" before everyone else had finished their class work.

4. I haven't seen Lynne since I went to high school. I had mostly outgrown my asthma by then. Mum was now the canteen manageress at the high school, so I continued to be pampered. Every lunchtime I got a hot dog, no sauce, and a hot jam ball doughnut, unless I decided that I wanted cheese Twisties instead of the doughnut. I didn't have to queue either. We'd do the major vegie shop on a Friday. The slow boy at the vegie shop called me Smilie cos he could not remember my name. His name was Kevin. Mum reminded me often that I should be nice to Kevin but it wasn't hard cos he was a nice boy, if somewhat slow. On the weekends, I'd help Mum clean the canteen from top to bottom, rather than the usual mopping and bench cleaning it got every day.

5. I passed my HSC with lower marks than I should've. Like lots of bright kids I did not do enough study. I was failing English at October tests ? I had never ever failed anything before. Up until October tests, all the English essays I wrote were marked by my teacher, who had taken an intense dislike to me. I ended up getting 69% for English - thank heavens that the exams then
counted for more than your own teacher's assessment!

6. I had applied to do physiotherapy but only got the marks to do Science at Monash University. I didn't want to go to Monash cos when we did an orientation day there via school, Monash had stuffed up the booking and I didn't like the lack of organisation. Still, the best thing ever happened for me at Monash. I found GEEKS and NERDS just like me! Ok, so it took until second year for me to really find some friends but joining FOME and MURP was really really good for me. I finally was surrounded by kids like me. Kids who were bright, who loved science fiction and fantasy, who liked being silly. Kids who did not really care what others thought of them, who ran around in cloaks and daggy clothes. Not like the Greeks with their big hair and image conscious bodies and outfits. We ran amok, in a fairly genteel sort of way, and came out of our shells.

7. I did not talk to boys from the age of nine until nineteen. My beloved friend down the road started ignoring me cos I was a girl and two boys had moved into the house between us. I had thought I would end up marrying Peter, but it was not to be. Instead I was too shy to talk to
boys until I hit second year uni and met Michael. Michael was the first love of my life. He was the first boy I ever kissed (and that is a story in itself). He was wild and amazingly clever and bold and brash, and then went home to New Zealand. I absolutely adored him although on occasion he embarrassed me with his amazing enthusiasm. I regret not following him there but if I had, I would not have experienced so many other things, and chaps ;-) I carried a torch for him for 10 years after I cruelly dumped him for a boy who would say that he loved me. So there was Michael,
Andrew, Ian, Zik and Nathan. Andrew would say he loved me. Ian captured my heart when this quiet, sad looking kid flashed a big smile. He was only 17 and I was in honours. Zik had an amazing intensity. Nathan was the only guy in FOME who had the guts to introduce himself to a woman somewhat older than he was. I have never gone out with a man older than me.

OK that will do for the time being. You know lots about me already!

Here's another sample of a flower from the back yard. Some of the Nigella (love in the mist) have come out half white. Pretty cute, eh?
white and blue Nigella


Monday, January 03, 2005


Or should that be fleeced?

G'day all!

On the way home from our lovely little break in Thredbo, we visited Beechworth. Beechworth is notable for a number of reasons, but my main reason for visiting the town is to go to La Blanche, with its many flavours of gluten free gelati (and icecream, for those who can have dairy products). We wander into La Blanche (there is a bigger shop in Bright) and have a bit of a chat with the chap who runs the shop, choose our "poison" (Nathan likes frappes) and wander off quite happily gutsing ourselves. After 10 minutes of freezing my mouth I often wonder why I do it.

This time I decided that I also had to look at the Ardent Alpaca. They stock fleeces and yarn, and when we wandered into the shop, it seemed like they stock a lot of old lady clothes as well - you know the type I mean, beautifully made, fine yarns, classic design, etc, but nothing I would be caught dead in. The fleece and yarn room was a little hidden in the corner, but I eventually found it, fought my way past the ladies trying on alpaca wraps as gifts for other people ("if she doesn't like neutrals, she won't wear it!") and fondled some beautiful yarns. I hummed and harred over them, but decided what I really needed was some tops. Very nice tops too. Some alpaca/merino mixes for about $20 and then there were the alpaca/silk mixes for somewhat more, like about $50? Then I looked at the raw fleeces - little sample bags of them. Oooh, err! Chocolate, rust, white, grey, a weird one with rust tips and salt and pepper fleece. Well, after a bit more humming and harring, Nick, the proprietor of the Ardent Alpaca, brought out some more of the prettiest fleeces. The fleeces are between 18-24 micron. The salt and pepper rust one is called rose grey/roan apparently. Cost a bomb, but nyeh. Do you want to see a pic?

Of course you do!

rose grey fleecey goodness rose grey fleecey goodness

It will occupy me for some time to come, though it has only taken a couple of days to wash all the fleece.
fleece drying in the sun

Ah, here is my knitting content for the day too:


the ahem blocked scarf

Yes, the Boobie Scarf, as featured in Knitty autumn special. I knitted it in Zara, in a nice hot pink/magenta colour. Very high stitch definition, which could be a bad thing. Note the way I have barber's poles on one side of each stitch and separate stitches on the other leg of the stitch. My MIL knew not what to make of it. I didn't follow the pattern very well cos Zara is a different weigh to that recommended and it would've been about 10cm wide - too narrow for a scarf IMO! Not that we are having weather for scarves at present, since it is summer....


Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year's Resolution

G'day all!

Yesterday, in 2004, I said today I would reveal my New Year's Resolution.

Well I guess I should spit it out.

I will do my very very best to blog at least twice a week, with photos wherever possible. I don't think I can manage every day of the week though - I dunno how all those knitters and spinners with kids can manage enough peace to blog every day! I only have a husband and a full time time job, and that is enough for me!

I will improve my blog page and add lots of links on the side. I might even do a weekly what is on the needles and the spindle. Gosh, you are so privileged! LOL.

Do you really need to know that I will try to improve my housekeeping and be a tidier person? Don't hold your breath though. You don't live here. Be glad. The only rooms where I have not deliberately put yarn are the kitchen (yarn often travels through there or I knit or spin as I check the progress of dinner), bathroom (one of two), toilets (Australian toilets are generally separate to the bathroom, so if you come here and ask for the bathroom, I'll send you there! It will confuse you no end and you will have to ask for the toilet instead if that is what you really wanted) and laundrey. Every other room has yarn or fleece in it.

Tomorrow, or Monday, something totally different - KNITTING CONTENT! Or maybe spinning content. And an update on our floorboards. Yes I reckon you need to know! Even some pictures, including of knitting/spinning and my latest purchase - this is something pretty special!