Thursday, September 28, 2006


G'day all!

Recently one of the lists that I am on has been discussing the latest issue of a knitty mag. They decided that it was a stealth big girl knits issue - stealth because it doesn't say big girl anywhere but well it seems to be a big girl issue.

I had a look at it in the newsagent today. I have to say that whilst I applaud any magazine that does not use stick thin models, I would like the lady they chose to look pleased to be wearing the garment rather than looking as if she is about to be shot (she is standing against a brick wall and looks like she would prefer pictures were being taken of someone else). She doesn't have to be particularly pretty or anything, she just has to make me think "Oooh, that looks nice, I want to make it." Now you might say that the garment should speak for itself, but the way it is presented can make all the difference. How many times have you looked at a dress on the rack and thought "It looks like a sack" and when you try it on, you find it flatters each and every one of your curves? That is the sort of presentation I mean. Something that brings out the best in the garment rather than making you wonder why they chose someone who is incredibly uncomfortable having pictures taken of them.

So I bought Vogue Knitting instead. Yes, we finally have the fall issue with those incredibly nifty socks (I would link to it but I think that the link will change with the winter issue). Drool (Homer Simpson style drooling. Full on drooling).

Whilst I am on the subject of unflattering, I have several glorious pictures of our cats for you to suffer through, and one cutesy shot. Once you've scrolled past them, I'll tell you about my first pair of socks.

Cheshire likes to sleep upside down. She saw me take the first photo and started kneading the air and squinting at me. Cat or mutant? Your call.

Nutmeg loves smooching hands. She hops up on her back legs to smooch. She is about to smooch here. Cat or mutant? Your call.

Two cats waiting at the door to be let out. Ohhhh.

OK, my first socks.

I made my first socks about two years ago. I wanted to find out why people like to make socks. I didn't really find out about the sock bug with these first socks. They are knit top down with turned heels in different colours and all. But they didn't make me feel the love.

Aren't they pretty? I dyed the yarn whilst figuring out this dyeing stuff. 80% wool, 20% nylon mix. I thought it was 8 ply (DK) but it was really a 5 ply (sportweight) and the needles were too large. They pill like the dickens and after their first or second wash became bedsocks - they are large and floppy.

Of course they are the sort of bedsock that disappears off your foot in the dead of night and lurks somewhere in the bed until choosing the most inopportune or surprising moment to reappear and terrorise the rest of the bed's inhabitants.

It took over another year for me to really start feeling the sock love. In that time I made probably four pairs of socks - some Lorna's Laces (I have a very thin batch of yarn that felt stringy - other LL has felt much nicer), some Opal (ick - another unsoft batch - it was scratchy!), some other German yarn (scratchy scratchy scratchy!) and some pastel Trekking (you guessed it, scratchy!). Then Kellie gave me some lovely rainbow dyed yarn and suddenly socks were IT! Must knit socks! This yarn was merino. Soft and yummy, not scratchy. I can't wear scratchy wool. Since I've got yarn from a few places but I tend to enjoy knitting with either our own Patonyle or the American sock yarns.

Finally, I leave you with more pics of icelandic poppies. I love these.

The brighter pink one was just unfolding when I rode halfway to uni with Nathan this morning. By the tiem I got back, she was fully open.

The bashful orange poppy was no more than a bud when I rode off with Nathan. 40 minutes later she was wide open, if a little shy. How on earth can such a bright orange poppy be so bashful as to hide behind her sister?


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

10 Knittery Things About Me

G'day all!

Grumperina created a meme. I am playing too! These are supposed to be knitty things about me that you might not know.

1. I've knitted more fair isle and intarsia jumpers than any other type. This was back in the 80s mostly. Have you seen me do fair isle and intarsia recently?

2. I don't tend to knit jumpers any more cos I keep finding they don't turn out the way I imagined they would (or maybe I'm just fatter than I think I am!). Socks are relatively cheap and I wear them a lot, at least in winter.

3. If I don't have a sock on the needles I get twitchy. Socks are comfort knitting. Some people eat, I knit socks :-) (But those chocolate bikkies int he pantry are calling my name....)

4. I tend to be a bit lazy in my knitting, which I odd because I can be a total control freak. I will say "eh, there's a mistake five rows down" but not fix it up cos it doesn't worry me. 10 rows later I frog it back to where the mistake was....

5. I have lots of WIPs that get forgotten about for ages until they resurface in the fibre room. Sometimes I frog them, sometimes I finish them, most of the time they just go back in the box or bag and disappear for the next six months. I am a yarn and pattern floozy, jumping from one thing to the next, sometimes back to an old thing, often not.

6. I knit Western mostly but for needle sizes 6mm and above, I tend to knit combined cos it is much easier to scoop the yarn than wrap it.

7. Oooh, this is getting hard. You might know some of this stuff.... Believe it or not I now try never to buy yarn without knowing what I am going to make out of it. Of course socks are an exception - sock yarn is so versatile I can just say I am going to make socks out of this without having a specific pattern :-)

8. I am not a technically good knitter (see 4). I have become a lot more proficient at lace after experimenting and reading things like Eunny's excellent primers on lace knitting. I should try harder to be good but I knit cos I like doing it not cos I want everyone to think I am a really good knitter. Remember, this is all about me! Your mileage will vary.

9. I'd love to be part of a knitting group/tribe. I'd love it to be within 15 minutes drive of me and for us to get together and knit and chat and have fun. But this is me we are talking about and I am a bit shy.

10. Ten ten ten... must go and stare at stash to find a tenth thing.... I would love to design socks and jackets/jumpers/garment, hats, you name it. Despite 8 and the end of point 9, I want to achieve worldwide fame and adoration, but I just want to do my own thing at the same time and not get fussed about what others think. LOL

Suddenly I want to make a pair of red herrings only mine won't be those colours - likely black and some self-striping yarn cos I reckon it would be waaaaay cool. Plus there are some mosaic socks from Socks Socks Socks I want to make in the same self striping and black yarn combo. Argh! Choices! Decisions! Argh! Plus the latest STR Club stuff arrived today and I want to knit the socks from that but there are TWO patterns to choose from! Maybe I'll have to knit one set with one lot of STR and use up my other STR yarn, my only other precious baby STR yarn (cobalt bloom) in the other pattern! (One day I'll make mates to all the socks I knitted for the Knitty entry but at present I am off chasing after other socks. oooh, the joys of being uncommitted to just one sock....) Plus there is the Hipknits sock yarn and pattern from yesterday.... And I must work more on this swap scarf. I am not feeling the love for it at present.


Weclome to my new look

G'day all!

Yesterday I got sick of my old blogger template and went looking for a new one. Hope you like the new feel - it looks a lot more swish to me! I think all the stuff in the sidebar should work. I played around with it after Blogger decided there "was no data in the document" which was a big fat lie of course....

So, Monday I got a little something in the mail.

I joined the Hipknits sock club a while back when I had money. The first skein, from August, is sitting on my desk looking at me saying "print out my pattern and make me." But I am resisting its siren call.

No, here is the second skein:

Can anyone guess what is wrong with it from my POV? Some people might remember that I do NOT do black and white. I even detest using white pegs on black undies when I hang the washing out! Black and white are the colours of the Old Enemy in the footy. I cannot knit with black and white yarn. Simply cannot!

The skein had an accident in the dyepot.

I totally love the colours now - there is a lot more mysterious mulberry than this pic shows, but it has paler areas too and I reckon the knitted up socks will be fab! (is it bad that I overdyed someone else's cunning sock yarn?) It is making me think I should dye then overdye some of the socks to make really interesting patterns. It might help with the pooling problem too.

Speaking of pooling, I dyed up some bright yarn last week and decided to make socks out of it. This is a heavyish sportweight yarn (we call it five ply) that needs 3mm needles for socks.

See the pooling? That is because I didn't really intend to use this yarn for socks - it was meant to be sold but I decided I liked it too much to not be able to use it. I do have two skeins that have more intense colours in them if anyone is interested.

Plus when I went to the dyepot yesterday, I found this lonely skein that I had forgotten all about, languishing in its ball (twil be interesting to see how it knits up being dyed in the ball not a skein).

Remember my cunning plans to put a different pattern in the middle of the scarf exchange scarf? Wasn't ever going to happen the way I envisioned it, mainly cos the new yarn needs a needle about 1mm smaller to make the pattern look nice. The new yarn is a commercial yarn cos my handspun was not coming up the way I wanted it to (of course). It was all fluffy and wild. Grrr. So I am doing the midwest moonlight pattern all the way along and will overdye the whole thing to make it all consistent, if textured. I haven't done anything on this since Sunday - been too busy with this report.

Spring is definately sprung here, even though we've gone back to being dry dry dry again. On sunday the forecast said we would have showers for most of the week. Instead we've had no rain since Sunday.

The apples are all in bloom:

An icelandic poppy (as we call them) couldn't figure out whether to be pale pink or strident salmon, so it chose both. I love sports!

I have to find out what this bulb is - it is a very pretty colour but is not a plant I am at all familiar with (which surprises me cos I thought after 30-odd years gardening and learning about plants I'd at least be able to say more than "It's probably south african and a bulb").

See this horrid stuff?

Photinia robusta. Gods I hate it! I am allergic to the flowers. They give me asthma. Nathan has problems with them too. There are two large shrubs in our back yard flowering away merrily. They were meant to be cut down before they got this far but best laid plans and all that. I can't wield the borrowed chain saw - I don't have the grip strength. Anyway because of them I now have a ventolin inhaler. Only problem is if I take a dose of it, I overdose a bit and get shakey. LOL Me me me.... Anyway, if I survive this year's flowering, it means we have most of a year to get rid of the things. Horrid horrid plants.

Heh. The streetsweeper just went past. When I was a child the things terrified me. They certainly terrify Nutmeg - she runs around the house tyring to find a place to hide but "THERE IS NO HIDING FROM THE STREETSWEEPER! ARGH! Run! Hide! Its horrid whining has found me!" She runs around in circles until it rumbles away. Poor thing.

OK, today is the last day before we submit the report. I had two brainwaves overnight for getting this thing finished - two things that really need to be said. Now I have to discuss them with Nathan. I'll be glad to get it out of the way, and not just cos we will get paid for it....


Sunday, September 24, 2006

To market, to market

G'day all!

The handspinners and weavers guild has a weekly stall at one of the big Sunday markets in Melbourne. To ensure I don't have to whack 40% commission on anything I sell through them, I have to volunteer once a year.

Yesterday was the big day. I had worked out that I needed to leave the house before 8am (on a SUNDAY!) to catch the train. All day passes for all the trams, trains and buses in Melbourne are $2.50 on Sundays - what a bargain! I had my ticket, my pack all set up with CD spindles and random bits of fluff, two lots of knitting and off I went into the wild blue yonder.

The weather here has been dodgy for days. It blew and blew and blew whilst I was in Cairns, and it's been pretty blowy (up to gale force) for all bar about two days since I got back. A strong northerly was blowing when I left home. Eventually I got to where I thought I was meeting my team mate for the day. I waited for 45 mintues (I had been early, now *she* was late). Then I asked around and found there was an UPSTAIRS part - I was waiting at the undercover market but there is a place on the top level! So of course she had been waiting there for me, cursing me for being late....

So we got the stall all fixed up - we had two tables not just one cos someone hadn't shown up so the organisers gave us their table. The Arts centre was behind us and the concert hall right next to us.

Confession time. I am a messy person. Anyone who has visited my place knows I am messy. I have too much stuff and too little place to put it in. To me that is not the worst of the confession. Noe the worst is that I am also a compulsive sorter. I like/adore sorting stuff. If I can sort stuff out then I can tidy it. Unfortunately there is too much stuff that is not tidied that I can only categorise as Stuff I Want to Keep and Stuff I Need to Keep and Stuff for the Circular File. Some people like to remind me that sorting stuff is typical of people who are autistic. Yeah, whatever.

I love sorting stuff. At one point I was determined to make me a coat like G'Kar's out of a gazillion leather bits and bobs.* (No links - can't find a photo worthy enough :-) I bought scraps and sorted them. I bought more bags of leather scraps and sorted them. I ended up with a biiiig tote bag full of leather scraps, and another bag besides, and about 20 squares of leather patchwork I had sewn together. Talk about a freak. Or the SF books that were in author alpha order until we moved. Or the beads - buying bags of mixed SEED beads, teensy beads, just so I could sort them out into their different colours (ok, not just so - I wanted the different colours for different projects and buying 250g of seed beeds like this was cheap).

So what has this to do with the market? Weeeeelllll, I tipped all the yarn out onto the table and sorted it into colour groups. *blush* It looks better in colour groups! It is easier for people to pick out what they like if they have particular colours they adore. (Mental note to self - dye up some mauve tops and make lots of mauvey yarn, plus the bright stuff - brights get snapped up. Oh and make sockweight singles.) All the scarves and shawls were arrayed by colour around the edge of the table and held on by the stock on top of the table.

(Y'know I can see that my companion must've been a real babe when she was young (of course we were all babies but I mean a good looking woman). I reckon she would've had a lot of young men after her in the 50s.)

Where was I? Oh yes, the weather. The wind kept blowing things around, mainly the tablecloths (which the guild had to buy at some expense) and the signs (which are just propped against the table or a nearby pole). It blew over the little beanie stands. It blew over all sorts of things. But it didn't blow all the time and the sun was shining and I was regretting not putting sunscreen on my arms cos my jumper was Too Warm.

Then the change hit. Suddenly I was wearing a raincoat, mittens and a hat. No more complaints about being Too Warm! My nose was glowing an interesting red/purple colour (so attractive!). The wind was still blustering and switching from a warm northwesterly to a cold southwesterly. Rain was persisting down and we were in a dip in the pavement.... and water started run straight at our tables.... and the tablecloth on one of the tables drapes nicely on the ground like a wedding dress on a wet day. (Not that I know about wedding dresses on a wet day). Then the sun came out. Then the rain came back. Yesterday was the first Spring day we have had so far - we've had far too settled weather for months, especially for winter. Spring in Melbourne should involve four seasons in one day (ok, maybe we shouldn't get falling leaves but you know what I mean).

We did sell a few things. Quite a few things, actually. I got to swipe VISA cards TWICE! Such excitement. One of my two skeins on the table sold - I have no idea where the others of them are cos I brought in about 20 skeins recently and have only got the money for half of them, and I couldn't find them on the shelves at the guild a week ago. Some people wanted laceweight or sock wool and it just isn't economical to make that really - the amount of work to make laceweight is impressive. It takes me about 5 hours to spin the singles and another hour to ply them (usually only to find I've make fingering weight) and even then I've only made about 200 or 300 metres. Sock wool singles would be OK - that is the same weight as I spin singles to make 8 ply weight/DK. It just would be energised to some degree.

E and I chatted quite a bit, when the passing cars, trams and gale force winds didn't drown or carry away the chat. It is surprising how many young blokes have to show off in their cars, even though hitting 80kmh in second gear is a) breaking the speed limit, b) wasting petrol, and c) a waste of time cos the lights 150 m away are red anyway.... Maaaaate, you look at my car! I go fast! I noisy! You look at moy! (Whilst we are on that subject, is a ricer still a ricer, ie a "hotted up" Jap car with all the trimmings, if it doesn't just look fast but goes fast?)

It was a good day, though I was pretty tired at the end of it and cold to the bone. It started off being about 20 degrees I reckon and then plummeted - my weather doodad on my computer said it was 8 and felt like 2.5C half an hour after I got home. I demonstrated spindling to some people and sent two away with CD spindles to play with and instructions on where to find online help. One woman was from Vancouver. LOL There were lots of Kiwis who used to spin looking at our stand. Apparently they have trouble getting fleece there. Weird, cos the Kiwis have just as many sheep per capita as we have. I guess you have to be in contact with a guild or something similar to find the fleece.

Would I do it again? You betcha! I'd just hope for a day where the weather was more consistent (preferably not drizzling all day, lol). I'd be better organised too cos I'd know what to do.


*I did make myself a coat like G'Kar's and wore it to an SF convention in Sydney about 5 years ago. It took up heaps of room in my bag. It wasn't made out of patchwork scraps - I found large enough bits of leather instead. I wonder where the coat is now - I couldn't throw it out! And when I googled G'Kar pics, on the second page of pic hits I found a reference to G'Kar and Squeaky go adventuring. I'm not going to say who wrote that.... but it was an adventure photographed at home....

Friday, September 22, 2006

Do I knit?

G'day all!

I am still alive, though I feel like I've got the flu in half my body. Weird, huh? Combing alpaca must be harder than it seems....

Am I definately ill? I like both these Berocco patterns, not that we get that yarn here.

Now I finished spinning and then dyed the yarn for my secret ISE pal's scarf. Hooray! I've got something over 200m of yarn. Surely that makes a scarf? After all 100m makes a feathers scarf. I am starting to wonder if somewhere over 200m of a fingering to sportweight yarn will make a scarf and have brought in some extra players in a different colour (pic later - it is pretty dull here at present) for just in case....

So yesterday morning I had this much scarf and this much yarn:

(Do you like the way the yarn tones with the green painted concrete on the front verandah?)

A problem

Note that one of the balls of yarn is much lighter than the other. That changed my plans considerably. I had three skeins of yarn all dyed in the same bath at the same time and one is much paler. Plus I discovered that the pattern I had chosen requires perfectly smooth yarn, and my handspun is not perfectly smooth. It looked absolutely awful in the original pattern. I had to rip and go looking for a new pattern.

My next choice of pattern was a multidirectional scarf, the ones designed by Iris Schreier. I have a whole book of them. But the dyeing didn't come out as uneven as I planned it to - blasted baby alpaca strikes again. First it is very drapy and lifeless and not nearly even, then it dyes evenly! Evenly I tell you, with only a little variation in colour and tone when I've set it up to dye unevenly!

I have decided to do something tricksy. See how I am doing two ends of the Midwest Moonlight pattern? (It's in Scarf Style on p95, and Peeve is doing one at the moment too! Hers looks a lot more cushy. We didn't talk to each other or anything but are doing the same scarf pattern at the same time.) I am doing two ends off the same ball to get the colours matching reasonably (there is still some variation in the ball, just not proper variegation). I was thinking that I won't have enough yarn to do much of the Moonlight pattern but I will have get about 35-40cm of each end of the scarf in this pattern - the ball of yarn just keeps on going and going. I am sure it will run out at a most inconvenient moment.

The tricksy part is that I'll probably use a different pattern in the middle, just something that has columns of eyelets that won't use up too much yarn. This means it won't matter so much that the new yarn will be paler. It might even look like a design feature! It will only be a lightweight scarf but it should be warm cos it is alpaca, and I would like it to go around my pal's neck more than once cos she lives in a cold winter part of the US.

So what are some other things I got up to this week? Well writing this paper for DH has taken up some time and actually exercised my brain! I've had to THINK! I've had to do research on things I have no idea about! I've learned stuff. A miracle.

(Bandicoots are roughly rabbit sized ground dwelling marsupials and are endangered due to foxes, cats and dogs predating on them. Scuse the South Australian link - it was the one that had the best photo of the most common bandicoot, the southern brown.)

I went for a nice walk at the Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne.

The wind was blowing a gale. It nearly blew me over a couple of times! (and I am a girl with a firm hold on the ground) I was wearing Nathan's old straw hat - thank heavens bloke's hats come with strings on them cos I was clutching that string with one hand and the camera with the other. Without that string I would've done a whole lot of running and would probably be less one hat.

We do get some good wildflower displays in heathland, like this shot in the gardens, but we don't get the huge diversity of species that WA has, or the ephemeral flowers, or the sheer masses of flowers. Most of the flowers in the pic are one species of leptospermum (white), with some pea flowers (yellow) thrown in. Still pretty though :-)

Yesterday it went all dark in the afternoon and we thought STORMS! RAIN! HOORAY!

But the storms passed to the north of us and to the south and we only got 0.5mm of rain. Dang! They cleared just before sunset:



Thursday, September 21, 2006


G'day all!

The spring equinox is here! Hooray! Funny, the days don't seem to be getting longer in the evenings at present, but I sure am noticing the mornings getting light early (the recyclables truck woke me up this morning at 6:15 or 6:30 and it was light enough to read by).

Hopefully I will have some progress to report tomorrow. I went for a really hard bike ride yesterday and that and the difficult hand combing of this fleece have reallllly knocked me about - I've been feeling very delicate ever since with odd parts in my shoulders and chest hurting, and feeling dizzy occasionally (note that the thighs are fine - it was the things that had to breathe hard and the arms held on funny angles combing stuff that didn't want to be combed that hurt). Very odd. Hopefully a full night of sleep with no blasted garbage trucks merrily flinging glass bottles into their containers (have you noticed how breaking glass gets your attention even if you are sound asleep?) in the early hours of morning will set me better. And no hand combing of tough fleeces. I have plenty of dyed tops to play with instead. And knitting to do. I have finished combing and spinning the alpaca and have dyed it and tomorrow will have something to show for it so far. And a report to write for DH for our trip to Merredin. It is getting there but is not as developed as I need to make it.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


G'day again!

Must get rid of links. Puter is not loading pages quickly - too many tabs open...

A hat I am going to knit for a friend for her 40s, 27 dys after mine... A Leia hat!

A knitted brain. I sometimes think someone has replaced my brain with yarn - maybe this is what it looks like then.

What flavour crisps does James Bond eat? (What are these crisps? Are they potato chips as in the ones you get in a baggie rather than the ones you buy from the fish and chip shop?)

A plot generator for Star Trek TOS (it seems fairly accurate from the eps I can remember reading rather than the pot-boiler fan fic I read over 20 years ago).

Someone likes their paper cutting and folding too much.

We need a new camera. We would like one with good macro and good zoom. Any suggestions? We looked at this review page. Oh and it can't cost an arm and a leg either. Plus I can guarantee whatever people overseas recommend will not be available in Australia or will have a different name!

I followed a link to a link to a link about how to make left leaning stitches look neat.

Finally, I've added paypal buttons to my yarn site. I have plenty more yarn to put up on it, but we'll see how this paypal stuff works. Let me know if there is a problem with it cos it looks ok to me but I can't actually buy stuff off myself.... Strangely paypal won't let me! You must use another email address - you cannot send money to yourself it tells me.


Monday, September 18, 2006


Avast, me 'earties!

It be talk loike a poirate day todee! (No link - the page won't load for me so I guess lots of people are looking it up :-) I be wishin I was on the igh seas right now cos it be warm ere, warmer than Oi'd loike it to be already. 21 and 22 degrees C are plenty warm enough for me at the moment, and what do we get todee? 28!


I must be thankin Chris for pointing out the flamin obvious - that I should be targettin Australians to sell my yarn to. Unfortunately alf the Aussie knitbloggers I know dye their own yarn and the rest is either too poor to buy it or too snobby to use *oo yuck* *how quaint* *Australian yarn?* (But it's not Rowan! It didn't cost $15 or $20 a 50g ball! I can't use that!)

I be admittin it neer occurred to me that Yankees would not buy yarn from Australia. Cos why they be botherin? They be havin plenty o places to pillage oer there! Places that be only selling to other Yankees, not to land-lubbers in far flung places poirates be enjoying visitin! Even the Pommies have places to *buy* yarn from - but they be more outward lookin too and be used to buying online.

This gives me much to think about. Mebbe I be best spinnin up yarn and dyein it to sell through the Guild. Mebbe I be best keel-haulin my white yarn stash and makin stuff for me, or makin up kits for bags or whatever.

Yet, I have yarn to display on this here Jolly Roger so I'd best be showin it off:

Green self-patterning sock yarn. A green version of the pink socks:

Blue/purple, pink and black/white self striping, self patterning sock yarn. It will self stripe on top of the pattern in the pink socks. Too fancy eh?

Ooops, now I am eyeballing Etsy and looking at all the sock yarn places. Dang - someone else has made some yarn especially for me, except it isn't and Oi can't afford to buy it at present, and Oi prefer some of her other colourways. But she spelt me name right and all!

Ah, stuff the pirate "accent".

Gosh, I like this one too. Typical me! I should stop looking.... until I get off my butt and go find a job. When I have some money coming in then I can consider buying yarn, shock horror, from OVERSEAS!

Or maybe this one.... dyed by a BLOKE! An engineering student! The engineering students I remember from uni were much more likely to enjoy drinking 500 beers if they didn't have to pay for them and throwing up on their flannie shirts and moccasins....

See that pile of fluff? On the right we have unwashed alpaca, in the middle the spun stuff and on the left the combed tops. This is the stuff that is killing me slowly.

I took about 800g of it to Supasoft today and in a month or two I'll get some lovely clean carded fluff back, stuff that I don't have to process beyond spinning it up or blending it and spinning it. Hooray! I hadn't actually taken it all out of the bag cos it was squashed in quite tightly and I knew I'd never get it back in, and I was right! It made a big pile on the floor and will probably take 2 or 3 garbage bags once it is all carded! I had a long chat with Jenny, the person who does the cleaning, washing, picking and carding - ie the person who owns and runs Supasoft. Have a look around their site - they have pics of the carding machine.

Hmm, lots more pics of dyeing to go, except I haven't taken them yet. LOL Ah well, I'll get some Paypal going on the yarn site and we'll see what happens!

Oh, remember the pic from the other day - the one Dreamcatcher worked out?

Yep - turn it clockwise and suddenly it makes sense!


Enchantment, no enhancement....

G'day all!

Today is random Monday. Yes, every day is random for me.

I did heaps of dyeing before I went up to Cairns. Here's some:

I did heaps more after I got home. Pics later. Must update the shop - I've sold a whole 2 skeins so far! Heh. At this rate I will pay off the yarn I've bought in about a thousand years. Wonder if the wool will last that long? Can you imagine someone in a thousand years saying "Oh yes, that's a family heirloom. Great-great-great-great removed 15 times Aunty Lynne dyed that in 2006. We keep it locked up in that special box - it is full of argon to help preserve it. And over there is a fair isle she knitted in 2010 - dunno why cos global warming meant that it was too warm to wear the thing."

Here's the sock that forms a highlight later on in this post. It wasn't finished here - pic from yesterday. No pics from today bar the stash enhancement (which I keep trying to type enchantment - freudian slip or otherwise?).

A little giftee from my lace pal - it arrived late last week:

Do you like the claws on the stitch markers? Makes them adjustable for larger needle sizes. (Excuse the crap pictures - it's been dull here for the last day and a half, if warm, and I can't get good photos.)

Some stash enhancement:

a bag of 8 ply Country wool in violet for a project to be decided - some sort of hoody I reckon, though it will need to be supplemented with some magenta I reckon, or maybe some black. That bag of yarn cost only $15! Cool! If only I had had more cash on me I would've bought more of it and some baby yarn and some Jet in violet, and some Jet in magenta....sigh.

A Harmony guide to aran knitting - only $2!

Some fleecey enhancement:

7/8 corrie, 1/8 finn sheep. It is washing up a treat and is very very bouncy. Yum! Can't wait to spin it but I have to do nearly 400m of stinky alpaca. Alpaca is dull to spin - no bounce to it, just drape. No give, no flex, just drape. Or at least this cria fleece is dull. I much prefer wool I've discovered. It is bouncy and yummy yum yum!

Speaking of processing fleece, I *love* washing fleece. Love it. Honest! Fair dinkum! I love putting this greasy stuff into bags and gloving up and sticking it into troughs of hot water with wool scour (strong coconut based detergent), cleaning up the tips as best I can, watching in amazement as the water goes (in the case of the corrie/finn wool) a strong coffee with just a dash of milk colour, then rinsing rinsing rinsing (being careful to minimise water use) and getting white fluff.

Highlights from today:

Buying a body wash that smells like chocolate. Do you think I'll smell like a choccy bikkie (translation - chocolate cookie) if I use it, or will I just smell like rancid cocoa butter?

Buying this, but for less than the sticker suggests:

and discovering that my favourite episodes still tickle my funny bone as much as they ever did (and discovering that I have strong visual memories of them too). Oddly the stuff that was cut on the editing room floor that was reinserted has a timer running on it - sorta off putting. Then again, you really know what was edited out!

My favourite little ho jumping on my lap and turning upside down for a good belly rubbing. When I stop, she rolls over more and one golden green eye opens a slit and eyeballs me - more! C'mon, gimme it! She's behind bars in the photo below.

Finishing the sock that went missing for three days. Hooray! I even *enjoyed* the 2X2 ribbing, even when I stuffed it up cos I kept trying to do 1X1 ribbing. Holy heck, what is wrong with me?

Being able to start a new sock, or maybe knit some more of the jacket I started ages ago, or maybe some more Icarus! or maybe I should find some abandoned projects and finish them or frog em.

Dropping a six pack of DH's beer (stubbies) and not having a single one break! (Unlike in WA - I dropped two and BOOM! All over our host's kitchen, mostly under the fridge.... sigh!)

Unhighlights (other people would call them lowlights):

Re-discovering that I am allergic to alpaca fleece even after I wash it. I have about 2.5 kilos all up of alpaca including some suri. It is going to go visit some nice people who will make it nice for me.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

A matter of perspective

G'day all!

Today's matter of perspective - what the hell is this? It is All Wrong I tell you! Answer tomorrow, if I remember it!

(Pics are mostly from Palm Cove, except for the last three - more on that later!)

Lyn wants knitting, Chris wants more conference stuff.

So I'll tell you about a chap I met in the aboriginal art place. I met *on, who was a cattle station owner (ie a ranch for Americans). He owned at least ten stations at one point, ran all sorts of cattle on them - buffalo, indonesian cattle - bantangs???, brahmins, normal beef cattle, plus llamas and pretty much anything else that gets around on four legs that has commercial value. He's past the stage of owning stations now - from his skin and those weird china blue eyes old people get, he'd have to be pushing 80. Anyway, he waltzes in to this place and greets the bloke in the shop. He's got a fancy cowboy hat on with the curled up edges, one of those leather "ties" on that has the two leather plaited strings on either side that go through the medalliony thing where a real tie would knot, the lairy brown shirt (if there can be such a thing), a heavy gold watch, really shiny teeth (I have no idea what his crowns were made of) and a huge gold ring in the shape of a buffalo head that is absolutely encrusted in diamonds. Plus his jacket was not done up properly. I guess you could call him a cattle baron. Don can't read or write - never needed any of that stuff cos he is a cattle man and he knows cattle. Who needs to read or write? He made plenty of money without two of the three Rs. He is an old fashioned bloke, and someone with ideas outside my experience and sensibilities. He showed off his flashy teeth a lot and did the old smoothy trick with me and kissed me (ick - he'd already had a couple of his favourite drinks) and breezed on out. He was clearly, at least in his opinion, FNQ's answer to God.

I just stood there looking, thinking, "They don't make them like that anymore. Thank heavens!"

You might remember that I had forgotten my speaker's notes. Before I found this shop, I'd called Nathan and asked if he could email them up. So he did, and Carl, the shopkeep, logged on to the net and said there you go, log in and print away! Wasn't that sweet of him? I bought a little "native cinnamon" bark pot from him to put sugar or tea bags in - it really smells of cinnamon, though it is not cinnamon at all.

On to the conference.

Can you guess how I felt when I discovered that my ex-boss was at the conference? Oh gawd. Plus the girl I talked to most, and her best mate at work, was there too. So were two bosses from Claims and some underwriters. The exa people all hung around together. I was forced to meet more people, so I hung out with some ex-exa people and talked to other people in the industry, and even danced with the vice president (worldwide) of RGA and told him I was a fanboy of his (which I am cos he is an excellent speaker with huge amounts of knowledge) and gave him my card, only he had been enjoying our excellent red wines so I doubt he remembers much. LOL.

I talked to a variety of people mainly cos though I am an introvert, I hate not talking to people when everyone else has someone to talk to. I actually found some that I could get along with without worrying about looking like a dork. I had a twinny - one woman had blonde hair and glasses like me, but she was thinner and more delicate (a better twinny for Chris perhaps?). People kept congratulating her on the paper cos she looked like me sorta. She would send the congratulators over to me.

The conference itself was very good as always. Only one poor speaker (a massage therapist who was waaaaaay too New Agey for an audience of insurance professionals). My talk went quite well I think - I asked them questions, they asked me questions, I only got all my slides set up 15 minutes before it started (but I had practised the talk over and over assuming those slides would be there). Noone asked me questions I could not answer, which is always nice :-) I had 5 Japanese people in the talk and only two of them had English skills, and one of those was not so good. I hope they could at least read English if not understand my Aussie voice (people often think I am English, which I find amusing). The food? Well I had to wrangle for it and was never too sure of what I was getting, especially when fetta cheese turned up on my plate one day and the garnish for a dessert was a "sail" of white chocolate.

Did I get a job out of it? No. I had been told it is a place where the Important People wheel and deal but I don't want to go back into Claims. I want to use my strong suit of skills, not rely on ones that I am not so hot on, or ones that form my Achilles heel. (Yes it is good to improve your all round skills, but to be forced to use the weakest ones day in day out is a recipe for disaster/extremely poor self-esteem and high levels of stress in me.) Is there the possbility of getting a job? Well yes but it isn't particuarly likely. The industry is bemoaning how there is not a course that people can do that pops out underwriters and claims assessors at the end, but noone is willing to put the money up to get such a course (or courses) up and running. A consortium of insurers have to get together and bite the bullet. Such training could use my skills - research and writing, and if I believe in the stuff, talking too.

I have to say that three nights out of four spent yapping and on the dance floor, plus the comparatively early mornings was wiping me out. Getting "home" at midnight and being out the door at 8:15 every morning was difficult. It is a huge social event with much drinking (not me though!) and talking and dancing. The theme night was Rocky Horror, which suited me just fine but other people were almost (ahem) horrified. They had a group doing scenes out of Rocky Horror and I had a blast. I got to do the Time Warp three times (possibly once too many). I got to sing along to Sweet Transvestite. The tables were "cobwebbed" and be-(rubber)insected. I felt quite at home. Other people felt a bit uneasy. LOL

The rest afternoon was excellent, even though I managed to screw it up some. I thought hiring a car was a bit expensive but discovered that the local buses run up to a place called Palm Cove, a few kay north of Cairns. Palm Cove has a loooooong white beach. You can see it in some pics in the link. Palm Cove has a loooong beach lined by palms (surprised?). It is an upmarket sorta place. $10 later for a 24 hour pass and I was there!

Well the brochures never said that the emerald/turquoise water and long white sandy beach would always look so pretty. They certainly didn't for me!

Y'see an easterly wind had blown up and was sending metre high waves onto the beach. The sediments in the water were all stirred up and instead of looking tropical, it looked like my local bay on a bad day. OK, the palm trees were still there and whipping around in the wind so it didn't really look like my bay.

At the north end of the beach is a spot where you can rock hop around to the next small cove if you are feeling brave. I was feeling brave, so I put my sandals back on and started hopping.

The path was not always very obvious, even though I knew there was a way through since people were coming the other way.

So I scrambled over the rocks, with every muscle in my legs starting to complain after two late nights and a lot of dancing. Then whammy! Stubbed toe! Badly stubbed toe! Flaps of flesh hanging off it type stubbed toe!

I sat down and felt a bit queasy for about 2 seconds until I realised I was dripping blood onto my sandal. I quailed and wished the emergency evacuation guys I had been talking to at the conference were there to airlift me out and fix up my toe. LOL. Alas, noone was going to save me bar me. So I got out a tissue and a length of yarn - of course I had some knitting with me! - poked the skin back down and covered the lot with a tissue tied on with yarn. It didn't hurt as much as I remember from childhood. I hobbled onward to the next cove, hoping there would be a way out. There wasn't but I got to wash the toe in sea water and sit on my very own beach and appreciate it for a while.

Then I rock hopped back, occasionally having to stop and tie on a new tissue. I wandered into a gallery in the "town" and asked where a chemist was. The closest one was in the next town down. OK, I guess I'll hop on a bus. Why did I need a chemist? Cos I needed to fix up my toe. You stubbed it? Yep. You could lose that toe, you know?

EEEEK! Whatthehell?

Can you believe I still bought a couple of prints from her?

The lady was exaggerating somewhat. *If* it was the wet season, *if* I insisted on getting the toe dirty, *if* I didn't clean the wound, *if* I was unlucky then there is the possibility that the wound would not heal and it could go gangrenous. But I had cleaned it and covered it, and bought stuff at the chemist to keep it clean and covered, so it was all well. I do admit it was three days before I could examine it closely beyond checking for signs of infection (pic not gross - no blood, pus or anything except for my unpedicured toes). The most annoying part of it all was trying to keep the thing covered - the tips of big toes are not well designed for keeping bandaids on.

My last morning in Cairns was a free morning, so I walked out the 4km to the botanic gardens (the bus runs every hour and I had just missed it). I was a bit disappointed in the gardens cos I really wanted bushland, which I found in the parks on either side of the bot gardens. The bushland was surprising to me for the lack of diversity I saw, mainly cos it was swamp. I didn't have a chance to look at the bushland up the hill out of the swamp cos it was look at that and miss my plane or don't look at it and catch the plane. I am sure you can guess which I did.

Can you believe that it is 5km to the airport (just past the bot gardens) and I had 20 minutes to get there in a taxi and it took *all* of those 20 minutes? Man, it must've been the slowest taxi ride EVER!

I only got to knit one complete sock and got to the ribbing on the second sock before I lost it for three days upon getting home. It is hard to knit in a darkened room whilst trying to take notes, but I did a pretty good job for the first day at least - I got most of the foot done and then ripped back for the shortrow heel. BTW, these socks are a tad too short for me, so some lucky woman with a ladies 8-8.5 size shoe will get them for Christmas or a birthday. Piccies? Ack. Gotta find the camera first!

Would I move to Cairns? Unlike a lot of southerners, I have to say heck no! It didn't really grab me. It was not as idyliic as I expected it would be. No beaches unless you go north. Too many tourists. Too many shops selling rubbish. Few of my favourite foods were there. Even things like fruit and veg put me off - apart from the tropical stuff, it is all trucked in from the south. You know that branching broccoli that is fashionable these days - the stuff that is on long stems? Well it is yellow by the time it gets to Cairns. ICK! If I had to move north to a tropical or subtropical clime, I would prefer northern New South Wales, or the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Next time - the answer to perspective and at last some knitting/spinning/dyeing content! Honest!