Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Spot the ACKrylic

G'day all!

I am still catching up on stuff from before we went away, and now work-related stuff is catching up on me too. I have to go see another temping agency tomorrow morning. They didn't seem as organised as the first lot and the consultant's phone kept dropping out even though I am fairly sure it was a landline. I guess her phone is cactus. (Ooops, I've now been. She is a lot more relaxed than the first consultant I saw at another place, but not only are their phones playing up, so is their computer system - some virus has gotten in. Maybe my old linx box is annoying but it is never annoying cos it has a virus... just cos it is annoying ;-)

Anyway, I did a little dyeing of some cheap yarn from Scroaties before I left. Can you spot the acrylic content?

This tape type yarn obviously has a strip of acrylic running across it. I reckon it adds to the effect. See how many colours there are in that bit of merino tape?

Compare and contrast with the 50:50 wool/acrylic and 50:50 mohair:acrylic:

All three balls of yarn were done in the same dyepot with the same technique at the same time. I spattered mauves onto the yarns and see how different they are! The tape slurped up colour, the 50% blends were a little more indifferent. The core of the mohair blend is obviously acrylic - you can only dye acrylic in the vat as it is being spun out, or so I am told. Acid dyes definately do not work on it - above is proof of that!

Weird, huh?

Argh, forgot to ask you all to go wish Sknitty a happy birthday.... better late than never? She's being coy and has not mentioned it....

I am in an odd state at present, flip-flopping between being excited about possibly getting some work and earning money (MONEY!) and not wanting to work. I've been trying to get my style sheet working for my yarn sales page (it will have paypal for O/S payments (and oz ones too if really necessary)) and that is enough to get anyone wanting to go back to work. Can you believe the W3C tutorials forgot to tell me that I need to put a semi-colon between the things that define the style I am trying to develop for my background or my text, etc? The W3C tutes are THE things to refer to and even they can't get it right! The background pic still won't load - that must be something to do with the path.

I'm also getting the pics together from WA to put up on a little website. Maybe I should practise my CSS skills on those pages too. There are too many pics yet to show off to put on the blog.

Knitting? Well I haven't knitted any socks since FRIDAY! I've done all of the increases on the sleeves for a jacket I started hmm, 6 weeks ago? Now I just have to finish the sleeves and do the one piece fronts and back for it. Not much to go! No!

Heh. Nathan is getting all excited about the idea of having chooks. I hope he realises that I want young pullets and they will take a few months before they start laying. I want my chooks to recognise me (and him), and I figure the best chance for that is get em young and gentle them. Not that we have a fox-proof place to keep them, or know what breeds to get anyway.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Blow me down with a feather!

G'day all!

Today I got off my lazy butt and rode halfway to Monash with Nathan. Only halfway cos the other halfway involves a big long hill and once I do that I have to sit down for an hour to recover.... By the time the riding has taken over an hour and the sitting after the riding up the hill has taken an hour, most of the morning is gone. So I rode halfway and then back home again, for a nice little ride.

I got home and realised (three hours later) that somewhere along the way I had lost the bike lock, which attached to the bike via a strip of velcro (stupid arrangement). Someone had already appropriated the lock which is *totally* useless without a key. You can't even lock it without the key.

$22 later we have a new bike lock that STINKS to high heaven of mothballs. I didn't smell anything wrong with it in the bike shop. Some of you might know that I am deathly allergic to mothballs. They make me quite nauseated and very light headed. The effects can last for hours and I find them rather distressing.

So - the lock is for the bike. The bike stays outside. Now I have to work out if I can ride the bike with a stinky bike lock on it.

This afternoon, the lady next door asked if they could use our back gate (which opens to the road) to get the sides of their new shed into their property. They can't get it in via their gate from the garage to the yard. Yeah, sure, I'll open it up. She then says, after I open the gate, "He just put a parcel in your letter box."

Uh, what?

So what do you think possessed a parcel mail delivery contractor to think that this letterbox can take a parcel this big?

I got over that quickly when I looked at the parcel. It was for me! Look where it is from!

Oo err! But I didn't order anything cos I don't have a job and can't order expensivos yarn.

Lookie inside - how lurid is that? :-D Doesn't it just sock you in the eye and scream LOOK AT ME?

Wonderful MrsPao sent it to me! She said it was for quitting my job - how lovely! Thanks, MrsPao. I will find something lovely to knit from it. Bounce bounce bounce :-) Blow me down with a feather!

I've organised my second interview for getting temp work. I also organised my superannuation from my old work place. I'm rolling it over into a different fund. After finding out all the details (I had to ring up the super fund), filling in the stuff for the first temping agency, filling in the super forms, etc I was knackered and sick of bureaucracy stuff. Why is paperwork so hard?

This evening my sister sent me a link to look up our grandfather's records from WWI. The link didn't work, so I had to do a search. Blow me down with another feather. Fascinating stuff. The vague stories I remember tally up with what I can read in his war record. He got courtmartialed twice - once for disobeying orders (he thought little of the officers) and for desertion. He was reported killed in action in 1916, but was only wounded. (Freakily enough, he died 60 years to the day that he was reported KIA.) The records were so interesting that I didn't start cooking dinner until nearly 9pm. Oops. Still, it gave me a much better idea of who my grandfather was - he died when I was 9 and still terrified of this tall old man who had a mop of curly white hair and a voice that came from a gravel pit (as a result of being gassed).

I've been doing a bit of dyeing recently. I've been trying to find a pink that I like. The raspberry colour that I really like is only good at full strength - weaker and it goes a harsh pink/mauve metallic icky colour, like these two balls of silk road aran show.

I decided to try a dye called galah.

Not bad. The 1/4 strength version is quite a delicate pink, not that you can see much of the weak stuff but it is quite a decent pale girly pink. The pink pink is very pink :-)

I bought some beige yarn with the idea of dyeing it and seeing what happened. I am pleased with the results. It was done with galah and clematis - see the stuff at the sides?

In the middle is white yarn cooked in the same dyepot at the same time with the same dyes. Blow me down with yet another feather. The brown based yarn is a lot richer in colour. Interesting, eh?

Finally I bought some self patterning sock yarn that is marked down. It is black and white, and I don't like black and white cos it is the colours of The Old Enemy (Aussie Rules Football team Collingwood). But white yarn can be dyed any colour you like! So I did some pink

and some purple/mauve. The purple/mauve is going to Purplexity as her prize for winning my blogiversary giveaway.

If you want some self patterning sock yarn dyed your favourite colour, let me know. AUD7 a ball, plus postage. Excellent quality, soft yet hardwearing, 80% wool, 20% nylon, technically non-machine washable but don't tell my socks made out of this same yarn that cos they regularly end up in the machine. Just no hot/warm washes, ok? Cold only.

I've just read this, Mim's description of how to add beads to your Icarus shawl. How cool is that? I'll have to start knitting mine again, if I can find the yarn for it - I have two different colours for it but I have NO idea where the plain colour is for the fancy lace edging.

My nephew, The Swimmer, has been competing in the Australian short course championships. He came 8th in the final of the 100m breaststroke and SECOND last night in the 200m. You go my nephew!

Who would've thought that a baby that looked like this (age 7 months) would turn out any good at anything? LOL ;-P Another feather please! Don't you love the potential of a baby?

Finally, this is waaay cool. It is a google map that shows where you would end up if you were able to dig straight through the Earth to the other side. If I dig from Melbourne, Oz, I end up in the middle of the north Atlantic!


Saturday, August 26, 2006

We have TWO winners!

G'day all!

All the names of the commenters from my blogiversary week went into a bag, and my lovely assistant drew not just one but two names. Why two?

Well the first one was

AINSLEY! Yes, Purplexity, come on down!

Now just in case someone decided that the contest is rigged cos Ainsley is a fellow Melbourne knitter and a friend, I had my lovely assistant draw a second name.

This one was KRISTEN. Kristen followed a link on Stumbling over Chaos

Now because I am a nasty nasty person, to collect your prize, ladies, you have to leave another comment outlining the sorts of things you would like, or email me natiel3 at yahoodotcom :-) I can guess what Ainsley would like, but Kristen?

Heh. This quiz amused me - apparently I am one classy chick. If you saw me in sitting here in my baggiest, daggiest trakky pants with unbrushed hair.... As for flooring everyone, I don't think it is my class that does that....
Your Hair Should Be White

Classy, stylish, and eloquent.
You've got a way about you that floors everyone you meet.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Boyth day

G'day all!

It's DH's birthday today - he turns mumble, but not the same sort of *mumble* that I'll be turning soon! No, he's a baby and isn't even 3/4 of the way to *mumble*!!!!

It is a be-yoo-ti-ful day here today. We've had some rotten cold weather, but today is tshirt weather (except if you are one of the weird people walking around Oakleigh who are in their raincoats and their woollies).

So here's some Saturday sky just after the early morning fog cleared:

And some self-striping yarn I dyed up.

It's all skeined up now and ready to go. It will self stripe in socks, beanies, gloves/mittens and clothes for small children, but the stripes will be pretty skinny on adult sized clothing. There's 2 X 100g skeins there in what we call an 8ply, Brits call DK and Mericans call sorta worsted, and over 200 yards of wool in each skein. The wool I'd say is corriedale, nto merino, but it is Aussie wool. If you like skeins and covet them, I'll sell them for AUD 20each or AUD35 for the pair, plus postage. (That's about 8 quid each, or USD15 each.)

OK, time to go take DH for a drive to one of our favourite plant nurseries, Kuranga. I really must get my new yarn page up to help pay for extravagances like new plants.... Hopefully the temping will start up soon and I'll get a bit of money coming in. Otherwise things are going to get dire.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Random Thursday

G'day all!

We are at last getting some much needed rain here in Melbourne. We've had about 20mm (most of an inch) so far. Hooray!

The downside is that it is cold and wet and I have to fix up my resume. I hate trying to sell myself. I have to get the resume done this arvo so that I can send it off to a temping agency before I have an interview and computer tests tomorrow. I don't want to do it, so instead I've been doing housework, etc. Once I start doing it hopefully I'll be ok but nyeh. Hateses this jobhunting stuff - it is one reason why I stayed so long at the last place despite it slowly draining the life out of me.

The other downside is that it is cold and wet and dull - very grey. It is hard to get good pics when the camera says 1/30 and 1/15 sec shutter speed so I still don't have pics of my recent dyeing efforts (including yesterday's).

I've spun up some yarn for a friend's birthday. It is pretty but barberpoled. Hope she likes it, not that she'll get it for a while cos it has to go overseas. I started plying it whilst waiting for the man to come and fix the window that the paper "boy" (ie the person who chucks the paper out of a car as it drives by) broke. At 10:30 I rang them to find out why he hadn't shown up for 9am. He hadn't bothered to ring to say he won't work in the rain. Thanks, mate. Cheers. After all isn't he the one around whom the world revolves? Surely he does not have to provide that Most Dread Thing, That Awful Thing, the Thing Tradies Fear and Loath Most? (aka Customer Service)

My carefree week in Merredin seems a long way away now. I am starting to think that maybe Nathan and I should up stumps and move to the coutnry, only we have not even owned this place a year yet. There are fewer job opportunities and my extraspecial food treats are not available and society is smaller but maybe we would be happier there. I certainly would be less grumpy with the traffic. Blasted cars getting in my way and spoiling the joy of driving. Eh, it is a long term dream. Nathan wants a horse or two and assuming I keep doing this spinning thing (it hasn't worn off in two years so far so maybe it has stuck) I want a couple of alpacas and maybe say four sheep. We'll see what happens.

A rant on being Australian.

Last Friday, 18 August, was what is called Long Tan Day. On the 18th of August 1966, the first Australian battalion to land in Vietnam encountered a large force of Viet Cong soldiers. (I am not getting into the need to go to war in Vietnam.) The Australian force prevailed, despite being somewhat outnumbered. 18 Australians were killed and at least 245 Viet Cong. The battle of Long Tan is seen as another turning point in Australian history, much as the battle at ANZAC cove 50 years earlier is seen as making Australia's character.

(The Aboriginal, NZ and Oz flags)

(NZ and Oz flags at half-mast, mourning for the dead)

40 years after the fact, Merredin dedicated a reflection pool to the memory of those killed in the Vietnam war and those that survived.

For some reason the ceremony, which was awfully full of Christian God-stuff (the Catholic priest and Anglican reverend did the honours for the god-stuff but the Uniting Church minister was not obvious), made me intensely proud of my country. It wasn't as if I was surrounded by a multicultural conglomeration of people - most of the attendees were white with maybe a few Aboriginals scattered amongst them. Yet I walked away at the end mulling on what it means to me to be an Australian.

Many years ago, Judith Durham/The Seekers wrote We Are Australian. The chorus goes like this:

"We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian."

For me this song encapsulates what it is to be Australian. (Worse, I get all choked up by it - how embarrassing.) We have a history of the "fair go" (give people a chance) and "she'll be right" (just let it be and it will work itself out, stop worrying about it) but we are being dragged in a different direction by our government and by a very few bad apples that are causing one particularly group of Australians to be tarred with one brush. We are a country of many different peoples of many different cultures. There is room for all these people. We can afford to be kind to strangers and to refugees (but our government isn't). We can't make everyone an Australian (our boundless plains are pretty much boundless, cos I flew over a LOT of empty country on the way to WA, but many of them are so dry they won't support sheep or cows, let alone more than a handful of nomadic humans) but surely we can be decent to the people who do arrive here escaping the ravages of war and persecution.

Being Australian is all about having a sense of humour. Life is a funny thing.

(You are kidding me - sand and gravel roads are slippery? This was the only road I saw signposted like this. Why just this road? There was another sand/gravelroad, unsignposted, going north not south on the other side of the crossroads on the main highway....)

So I walked back home (to where I was staying cos walking back here would've taken hmm, how long does it take to walk 3000km?) and mulled. I realised that if I believe in anything, I believe in people. I believe in my country. Odd, to believe in a country. It is after all just a thing. It is not animate, but does have a personality. It is alive but dead and is not sentient. It can't rub against me like Nutmeg does.

Very odd indeed.

Here endeth the sermon.

I have peppered this post with more pictures, this time of flowers and shrubs from the Kwongan (floristic group) out past Southern Cross. Look at what it is growing on - lateric sands! In areas with only around 270mm (13") of rain each year! I haven't named the shrubs cos I can't find our best book for tracking down plant names. I love the way the WA bush goes berserk in Spring, even if this is a Bad Year with Few Flowers. In a good year it is totally gobsmacking!

Hopefully I'll get some pics of the recent dyeing up tomorrow, but don't count on it ;-)


A salty tale

G'day all!

Thanks for all the entries into the 2 year blogiversary contest, the grand prize being something you don't know about yet cos I don't - the winner will get something of their choice. Since I got the date wrong, I'll run it until tomorrow SATURDAY 26 August, 6pm Oz EST.

Tiphanie, who has not made her blogger profile public so I cannot link to her blog, asked if I have any tips for new bloggers.

First hint - make your profile public, Tiphanie, if you want people to find you by following the links in the comments, which is how I find some new blogs.

Tip two - always be true to what you like. That doesn't mean being nasty (or as we say here "slagging on" other people), just letting people know something of what you like and enjoy doing via your blog. If you have some interesting quirks that aren't illegal or immoral, talk about them. It may be that you will find there is a whole group of people who, for example, are addicted to the colour orange, only ever wear orange, drive an orange car, only drink orange Fanta and keep a tank of orange tropical fish.

Tip three - like tip two. Be true to yourself. Blog if you feel like it. Don't blog if you don't. If it isn't fun anymore, don't do it. Blog about things you like. It's your blog.

Because this is my blog, today we have a rant. Yep, another rant. Not much in the way of knitting or spinning pics or tales cos someone forgot to take pics of the dyeing she did. She was a bit het up about doing an "interview" with a temping agency at lunchtime. (It went pretty well I think.)

Australia is an ancient continent. Some of the oldest rocks known on Earth can be found in Western Australia, four billion or so years old. Many of the soils have been here before our species existed. Not all soils, but many. Aborigines came to this land maybe a hundred thousand years ago. They trod fairly soft on the land and didn't do much that whites consider agriculture (though they certainly nurtured their food resources and used fire to their advantage).

So in comes white man. He sees land that can be cleared of the useless (if pretty) scrub and turned into wheat growing areas. Nice productive wheat fields. Mmmmm..... and canola! Canola, the crop of the future!

What the white man doesn't know is that deep in the soil is salt. Salt that has been blown in from the sea over millions of years and washed deep down. The native vegetation is deeprooted and slurps up a lot of water - just one of the local gum tree species is estimated to drink 600L of water a day. Thousands, millions of these trees will keep the water table nice and low and keep the salt deep down where it belongs.

So white man clears the useless scrub and plants nice productive wheat paddocks. He hasn't noticed the salt lakes that pepper the area beyond the fact they are no use for farming. He doesn't realise their implications.

Wheat is not deep-rooted. It has shallow little roots like most annual grasses. It only slurps up a bit of the rain that falls. The rest of the rain (and some years there is precious little of that) soaks through the soil and down into the water table.

Over the years, the water table starts rising. Within 50 years of the land being cleared, farmers notice that parts of their paddocks are no longer growing economically useful plants and the little creeks and water channels don't support plants any longer, or only support samphire and pigface. The water tastes salty.

Places that supported trees now don't, and the trees die.

By the 1970s, whole creekbeds are scouring out - the water table has risen and brought the salt to the surface. Salt is breaking out into paddocks. (This isn't just a problem for the wheat cockies - the cow cockies and sheep cockies face this problem on any land that has been cleared). By the 1980s salt is an acknowledged problem in the wheatbelt. Towns are starting to notice that roadbases are crumbling and foundations of buildings are suffering - salt can be seen encrusting bricks as it creeps up buildings. How to get rid of the salt?

Here's one solution - grade drains along the contour lines of the paddocks. The bloke on the right has been doing this for 30-odd years with good results. The drains pick up the surface run off (rainwater/freshwater) and empty into dams specially constructed so that the water does not seep out of them. This contour drain was set up about 4 or 5 years ago. The paddocks are planted on the contour as well to help reduce soil erosion, and no till/low till methods are being used increasingly too. Soil erosion and salting are the two biggest problems faced by most Australian wheatbelt farmers (apart from the obvious droughts that occur).

See that bare patch in the middle of the canola? That's salted land about 30m downhill of the countour drain. Two years ago an area two or three times the size of that patch would not grow barley, reputed to be one of the most salt tolerant crops we have. Last year barley grew on a fair whack of the area. The salted patch is recovering because the water table is lowering. This year canola, which is renowned for disliking salt, is growing well around the patch, which has shrunk further.

Basically, to stop the water table rising, you need to stop rainwater reaching the subsoil cos it just lifts the water table higher. The higher the water table, the higher the salt. Most farmers won't do the most simple thing to stop rain water recharging (ie water seeping into the soil higher up a slope and lifting the water table further down the slope) cos it means they lose paddock space. That most simple thing is to replant the recharge areas with deeprooted plants. Planting scrub goes against the grain of people who cleared land or whose father or grandfather cleared the land. However, if it was economically useful scrub - eg mallees (gum trees) that can be used for extraction of eucalyptus oil or ornamental flowering plants that can be harvested and used in the floristry trade then farmers might go for it.

Once you drop the water table, the rain that does soak in washes the salt back down. Lowering the water table is key.

We'll see what happens. In the meantime, the salinity problem generated in the paddocks around Merredin is draining into the town, and is already noticeable in the town.

All this because we just didn't know enough about Australian soils and conditions, instead using English methods of cropping.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What I did on my holiday

G'day all!

Lynne and Nathan had waited a long time to go away. Nathan had booked the plane

(Jetstar, Australia's cheapy Qantas airline that isn't a Qantas airline. You buy your food and drink on the plane, if you don't bring your lunch/dinner/drinks with you. Comfortable seats, new planes, adequate service)

so we drove to Avalon Airport, once only a military airport, and inconveniently 60-something km from the city. We got our baggage on the plane by the barest margin and got us through the security stuff, there to wait until we boarded the plane.

We arrived at Perth and our chauffeur picked us up and drove us to Merredin, three hours away. He also just so happened to be the liaison for the council that Nathan had been talking to for hmm four months.

Nathan had to work, but Lynne got to play and play she did. After walking about 12km on the first day, cars came out of the woodwork (so to speak). She got to know some of the wildflower locales quite well :-) She also nearly got blown away, literally. She thinks only two days in seven were not getting up to gale force winds. She had to buy more hair ties cos she left them all at home. And a brush cos the comb she had was not up to the job!

The social calendar was quite full - dinner with our host's friends, dinner with friends we met two years ago, dinner at the local ancient (and freezing) theatre followed by the Guitar Heaven show, a trip on a friend's bus..... (next time I'll try to remember to link to the guitarists' websites cos they played some great music.) Nathan had dinner with the councillors one night.

Here's the major crafty output for the week. Who would think that yarn that looked like this in the ball:

would look like this in the sock?

For some reason Lynne ignored the obvious evidence and decided that these socks would be stripy, not pooled. Thanks, Peeve, for the yarn :-)

(I knitted one of the socks in just over 48 hours. Any chance I got, I knitted. Y'see our host took a liking to the first sock, declaring it was a very fine sock and most excellent (though she would not wear a jumper made of the same yarn). So suddenly I was a Lynne with a mission. Our host was very pleased with her gift :-))

Let's do some pictures. Here's two views around the local (ie just across the road and up the street) parkland:

and some around Merredin:

(heh. A cold front blew in and things got a bit wet and even more blustery)

Merredin is a wheat town, but they have to diversify and start to love their bushland more. They have some terrific road reserves but some of the wheat cockies (farmers) think the bush is just useless scrub. It brings tourists though. People like me. Of course people like me are useless to the cockies.

Speaking of cockies, here are three of the local red tailed black cockatoos - funny birds with their crests raised as they look at me suspiciously. I saw about 20 of them feeding on or destroying this Melia.

This is the only part way decent shot I got of their tails showing the red flashing. (not clickable)

I'm still putting together a web page or two of pics, more pics than anyone wants to see except for plant nuffies like me and Nathan. I haven't gone through all the pics yet. So many pictures. Argh! Too much to do (like find some temping work and clean the house and get the garden planted out, if it ever rains....).


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Awooga! 2nd blogiversary!

G'day all!

Just realised that yesterday was my second blogiversary!

Happy 2nd blogiversary to me!

I am running a contest. I think I'll put up some nice handspun or some nice yarn or tops that I'll dig out of stash. Local stuff. Maybe I'll dye up some sock yarn. It will be the winner's choice. (ie I am too lazy to go through stuff right now)

What do you have to do?

Leave a comment for this post or any I post between now and Thursday this week! Entries close on Friday 26 August at 6pm Australian Eastern Standard time. Don't ask me what time that is where you live - we are plus 10 UMT, you are ????


Home again home again, jiggety jig!

G'day all!

Home again. Very odd. Merredin is suddenly just a dream.

Isn't it amazing how you get in this tin can and hurtle across the sky for an hour or two or four or 20-odd and suddenly you are Someplace Else?

OK, Perth isn't terribly Someplace Else, cos it is Australia, but it isn't the same as Melbourne. The WA wheatbelt isn't terribly different to the Victorian/SA wheatbelt, but it is different. Of course the longer you sit in the tin can, the more different the place yet similar. That's the funny thing about flying to the US or the UK - it is subtly wrong there. The houses are wrong, the sun is wrong, your inbuilt direction-sense is wrong, in the USA all of your ideas about what way to watch for traffic are wrong (cos you guys drive ont he wrong side of the road! Worng I tell you!), etc, etc.

Crikey. You want photos? We landed less than 10 hours ago and I am only up now because the cat whinged madly and wouldn't let me sleep past 8am... (the cats were rather frightened by us at frst and then Cheshire suddenly started purring madly - my humans are home! Nut took a bit longer.) There's a two hour time difference between Melbourne and Perth, and I feel like there is a four hour difference at present. Surely it can't be light yet?

You'll have to wait for the photos cos I have to find the camera and the cable, and we have to download photos off the laptop (which probably means my link to the outside world will disappear for a while). Plus I have probably a thousands shots of things, and I am sure noone wants to see all of them, so I need to pick out the highlights.

Now I have to catch up on more than a week of everyone's posts! Eeek, and some of you have gone berserk it seems.....


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

G'day from WA!

G'day all!

I am here in sunny Western Australia, just a few thousand kilometres from home (or if you prefer a couple of thousands of miles).

Two years ago, Nathan and I drove to WA from home. We figured it was a pretty long drive, but even flying over Australia helps you appreciate just how far it is from the east coast to the west coast and how empy much of Australia is. We crossed the Nullarbor where it truly is an apparently endless, treeless plain. The flight took just under 5 hours (headwinds made us fly lower).

It's a bad year in the wheatbelt of WA (I'd link but on this windoze box it is too much effort to run multiple copies of IE). Not enough rain and what has fallen has fallen at the wrong times. There's stuff all in the way of the ephemeral daisies flowering, which is a shame - last year there was rain at the right time and the ephemerals and the orchids were spectacular. The shrubs and stuff are looking great - flowers everywhere. All native. (Well most of it.) No pics until I get back.

The funny thing is that many of the locals don't realise how wonderful the local flora is, even in this bad year when the crops are 1/4 the size they should be. The locals plant rubbishy stuff that we put in English style gardens at home. They want the stuff that won't grow in a place with terrible soils and parching hot summers, or they just want to clear it and grow wheat on it or plant houses. It is odd how you want what you haven't got, only this is on a slightly bigger scale than wishing for straight hair or blue eyes or whatever.

Nathan's consultancy stuff is going pretty well. He is tired lots - he spends the mornings bouncing about stuff and the afternoons slowly collapsing. After the first day when I walked about 10 or 12 km (into town, out of town, into town, out of town, around some local parklands, back into town after walking across town, around the back blocks of town, etc), I've been given a car! Or we've been taken on a trip to see stuff. Most excellent!

In my incoherent ramblings, I don't think I have expressed how wonderful the flora of WA is. You drive along the roads just gobsmacked by the remnant vegetation on the roadsides. The wattles are going berserk. Mounds of yellow waving everywhere. Depending on where you are, other plants are gearing up for spring too. I've seen so many pretties that it pretty much blows my mind.

Knitting? Well I've done most of a sock in the last two days. Plus there's a person here who wants to learn how to spin, but she only has alpaca fleece and a wheel. Oddly I brought some dyed merino tops (which is the sort of stuff I learnt to spin on) and a spindle, so if she has no spindling experience I can see if I can show her how to spindle. I feel that if you can draft the fleece and make yarn using a spindle, learning to use a wheel is easier. I certainly just transferred what I did on a spindle to the wheel.

anyway, this place is about to close, so I'd better say


(regular posting will resume soon, with WAAAAAAYYYYY too many pics of wildflowers here)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Some random Knitty thoughts

G'day all!

I have been working nearly all day on these silly pics for Knitty. Of course I can't just stick my socks on a bush or get a line up of feet for them, no I have to be all fancyschmancy.

So far, I've created these:

and one other which I forgot to upload.... It has a screened fireplace in it. Fear not, no socks were harmed in creating that picture (though I think my brain has been harmed).

Are they not gloriously tacky? I am starting to wonder why I am bothering! My ideas seemed good at the time but after 8 or 9 hours fairly much attached to the computer with DH whining at me....

I have so many other things I need to get done at this point - I think I'll give up and get the washing off the line and plant the blood orange before it dies and bring my backpack in from where it is "airing" and start planning what to take to WA with us. We'll be away a few days and the poor puddy tats will have no humans to love them. Ack, haven't set up the litter trays for them. At least they will get fed once a day. And they will have nice places to sleep. No nasty humans to kick them off the bed, but no nice humans to turn the heater on either.


Friday, August 11, 2006

what's wrong with me?

G'day all!

Today I have been feeling urges to dress up like a girl instead of a slob.

What is wrong with me???

I want to have nice hair and a nice dress or skirt (and top) on, something 40s or 50s-ish, cute shoes, etc. (Note to self - am not wearing 1950s underwear in search of "the look.")

I think I can blame Am for showing off her pins last night. She has good legs, good lot of muscle on them and curvy, not like these "models" with their stick thin things that look like twigs. I have nice curvy legs too - my mother's legs - heck, she's dead she doesn't need them! So why do I hide them?

Also a couple of the girls showed up to craft night wearing their corsets. E's was especially impressive as she already has a goodly big front porch and my goodness in that corset! I found it a little confronting actually. Big boosages have that effect on me - they scare me. I do not have a big boosage, and remain thankful for small mercies (so to speak).

So how am I dressed? In a 15 yo long sleeve tee that has seen much better days (even since earlier today before I was forced to blow my nose on it - either that or have an enormous booger hanging out of it - yes I used the inside....), bike nicks under shabby yoga pants and my $200 runners that look like I got them out of the ragbag. OK, I've just ridden to Monash and back, so I would not be dressed to the nines, but still....

I'll have another week of slobbing around cos we are in WA next week. That is on the other side of the continent and will be a holiday for me and a job for Nathan. Then I need to get a hair cut and get a (real) job. I am actually starting to think a job/temping might not be so bad - at least I wouldn't think I was wasting my time at home.

The final Knitty sock is done. That makes 5 of a possible 6 socks from the most recent Knitty, and 3 of the rest from the older Knitties. Two socks I had already knitted before I began this madness a month ago. I might reveal the final sock tomorrow but might not too cos the photo shoot and compilation may take a long time. I only have tomorrow to get the pics right and gimped into their final forms. Plus I have to get my slides for my talk done tonight at a friend's house cos they want them in proprietory software form, grr.

Pictures? You want pictures? You will have to wait! I have to get the outline of the talk in shape and email it to myself and copy it to my brand new USB stick that I got just for being a member of an association. Cool, huh? I also have to cook dinner and visit the inlaws, all in the next two hours. Don't ask me why I am blogging.

You something that sucks about being unemployed and also having too much crap stash that you don't want? I can't buy more yarn (except the stuff I bought today that was on special that I am testing to see if it will dye up - it is 50:50 natural fibre/acrylic. So far so good). I must destash. I have sorted out the yarn to go and the yarn to keep, so another thing to do once I am back is get it onto ebay. It will be excellent for scrumbling. Why does it suck that I am unemployed and can't buy yarn? I don't get any parcels from (not so) exotic lands. I love getting parcels....

Time to go make an early dinner. Then I have to finish this outline, get some self-striping yarn out of the dye pot and drive 20 minutes to visit the in laws, then another 20 minutes to get the talk slides done, two hours there (max, I hope but I am going to have to wrangle po-erpoint, so wish me luck) and then home to bed!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In search of laceweight

G'day all!

What is this mad obsession with lace? Knitted lace or lace knitting depending on which version you do (one involves lace stitches every row, the other doesn't. Eunny explains all - do I really need to link Eunny's blog?).

Why am I in a lace yarn swap?

Why am I spinning 20-30g batches of my new fleeces up in search of the right fleece to spin up nice and fine?

Polwarth, merino (the silver spotty fleece) and hmm, what is the brown one - a merino/corrie cross, the scurfy, disappointing fleece.

They weren't fine enough.

Then came this:

an almost black corriedale fleece from Andyle. Heavenly! Nice and long, spins up dreamily....

(Gosh I am white! Yes I am white but I see so many black people and Asians around here that I sometimes sorta forget that I pretty much glow in the dark. My hair isn't really that white though - it caught the sun a beauty)

Plus one lot of yarn is still relaxing on the bobbin.

(Ah, a little update about the guild and volunteering - even once a year is ok. I talked to the ladies last week and they seemed a little taken aback that people do work and may not have much opportunity to volunteer. Also it is hard for country members to volunteer.)

Today I leave you with a pretty view of Merri Creek near Rushall Station. I went for a nice walk there last week whilst visiting Silly Yaks (for my GF/DF apple scroll treat!) and the guild. I love cameras that just leave that little bit of blur cos you can't see the weeds growing rank by the water - they just look like nice greenery :-)


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ooh, a new thing!

G'day all!

Last week I got out some pretty coloured merino and silk, and merino and played with it and some bubble wrap and hot soapy water.

Yep, my first bit of felting. Deliberate felting that is ;-) We've all fulled stuff - one of my favourite pairs of socks got washed by DH the other week. The socks are tighter than they used to be. (Most of our washes, like 99.9% of them are done in cold water. The other 0.01% are in hot water cos after chucking all over the place, a certain pussy cat then went and messed in the dirty clothes pile....*sigh*)

You wanna see Yet Another Sock?

This one is Widdershins in a discontinued Patonyle colour (rather pretty in burgundy tweed), done on 2.5mm needles. Be warned this sock is tight! I ended up increasing in the shin/cuff (on each side of the cables it goes from one purl to two) cos it really was not particularly comfortable. The 2.5mm needles are 0.5mm up from what the pattern says. I do have a wideish foot but I would not say my ankles are thick (despite what the photo indicates!) and my instep is like my feet - flat. It is interesting to see how the different socks fit my feet. Oh, and the heel is modified mainly cos I had more stitches on it than specified cos as I said this is a TIGHT sock!

Nutmeg just had to get in on the photo shoot as I checked out whether one idea would work for the Knitty calendar entry.

Do you like the pomatofly? Not tomatofly, just a knitty fly. (not clickable)

Happy 100th, Mrs P - isn't she an old treasure? Not that I know her but she's in the local rag and is decked out in a crocheted poncho and hat :-) She looks as bright as a button too. (She's got her letter from the Queen - assuming Her Maj gets to 100, which is quite likely, who will send her a letter?)

Today we walked to Springvale and bought various vegies to cook up in stirfries (I just typed stirfires, which was appropriate for tonight's dinner as I added a leetle too much chilli *turns bright red and gets sweaty*). Springvale is odd - I am used to "woggy" places like Oakleigh which is all Greek and Italian, but Springvale is Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, all sorts of Asian. It has a very different atmosphere. I think I can associate with Greek and Italian culture better. That may just be familiarity.

I've finally started doing what my spinning wheel wants me to do - I'm spinning lace. It likes lace. It goes WHIZ and spins lace. It doesn't like thick yarns. Dang! I have pics but just as I said yesterday, there is always another day!