Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fibre page updated - spinners and felters

G'day all!

Had a very pleasant lunchtime - took a friend in to the spinners' guild and looked at fleece which I want but can't have (sob!) and had a good chat. I've applied for a couple more jobs. As a reward for trying to flog my skills like some sort of has been prostitute, I've spent an hour editing pics and getting them onto my fibre page. Now don't go looking for any bran there! I'll be putting up details of the alpaca fleeces I have, and I am liquidating the alpaca blend tops that I have - no point keeping them if I can't spin them! (I seem to be allergic to alpaca, the hypoallergenic fleece. Sigh. So typical of me!) I am sure that someone else will enjoy them a lot more than I will :-)

So spinners and felters, go look. The rest of you might not find it so exciting. I'll be doing the wool page again very shortly now that I have the fleece page almost up to date (minus the hand spun yarn). I have the pictures, I have the technology....

As a reward to anyone for putting up with the recent whingefest, I give you

cherry tomatoes! Oddly enough, neither Nathan nor I will eat raw tomatoes.

Pictures from sunset on Monday - so pretty!


Extra crufty

Not such a g'day all!

You know how I have been totally stressing about money recently?

Well Nathan didn't get paid this fortnight.

This means by the time the visa bill is paid, we will have not much at all left in our bank account for the next fortnight. From this we will need to pay bills, buy food and oh of course the mortgage. Now hopefully google will reimburse us the hotel money for Nathan's accomodation but it will not come through for probably a month. I believe this is the sort of time that one decides to make use of the redraw facility on the home loan....

I am so overwhelmed by my own idiocy that I am almost totally powerless. Why did I keep focussing on two or three months down the track rather than what was about to happen? There are no guarantees that this Colorado job will come through and whilst we may have money in the future, we don't have money now.

I have two online job apps to do, some other possible leads to follow up, and I really need to update the shop. Can I pull myself together long enough to get it all done? Many thanks to those who have bought stuff - it has made a big difference to me.

Hopefully next time I am online I won't have Yet Another Disaster (Dear All - YADDA, yadda) to relate. Cross your fingers for me!


Tuesday, February 27, 2007


G'day all!

I am told that Mercury is in retrograde. For that I can blame everything going backwards here (including our bank account? Or maybe I can blame my lack of income for that...). I am also told that in the year of the pig you should be greedy and take chances, gorge yourself on the punt. I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't take a ticket in the lottery for tomorrow night. It is usually at this stage of my bank account woes that I start dreaming of winning a million dollars and not having to worry about money for a while. A loooooong while. I only want a million out of the jackpot of $33 million. Is that too much to ask?

I am quite fussed at present. Money is a BIG issue for me. I am going to ring up some temping agencies this arvo and see if I can't rustle up some work somehow somewhere. I visited one place this morning and discovered that I need a referral to get work through them. Weird.

I also have about 50 photos of stuff to put online. I am cleaning out some of my stash. Some I will not let go of cos I want it Too Much, but some of it I will not get around to using for ages and ages, years in fact if we do this Colorado thing. I just need to edit the pics. It gets to a point where there are so many pictures that I can't cope with them all. My coping bucket is about this (holds thumb and index finger together) big at present.

Here's the spinning I've done recently. We have some navajo plied mauve/taupe/plum, then the reds through browns and finally some white and cream moorit fuzzy yummy stuff. I think I'll wash some more of the moorit this arvo - I am very much enjoying spinning it. I might well dye some up too and put it online, all spun up and ready to go. That will take a few days though... You don't get to see the mohair/merino mix that I spun - it is a bit scary, especially since the only thing I had to ply it with was some white heavy laceweight and I wanted to make a novelty yarn. It certainly is that!

I've started making squares for a cat blanket. Nutmeg kneaded the yarn that I am making my scarf out of so I went and got a sad and lonely ball of it in red to make squares out of. She has briefly kneaded the first square shown here but gets worried cos it is not for her, or so she thinks. She is very very polite about knitting and spinning and *never* plays with stuff even when it is given to her. Very convenient considering how much fleece and yarn is covering the loungeroom at present... Anyway, I am loving the ombre effect of this yarn.

Here's one bad and blurry shot of the box of yarn that I dyed up over the weekend along with some that has not yet been listed. Lots of brights in there but there are also some dulls - misty mauves and greys. Note that I have done some bright orange! Me! Orange! It is very chirpy...

Okey dokey, time to go get some lunch, edit some pics, get them online and then start ringing temping agencies after 2pm!


Sunday, February 25, 2007


G'day all!

What busy days here at the Modest Manor!

Friday night Nathan had invited a friend around to dinner. This is the chap that will be house sitting for us. I spent all of Friday skeining yarn, and tidying and cleaning the house. I had the public rooms sparkling by the time I was done, and I was dead knackered. We keep having horridly humid weather at the moment. We've had two days off over the weekend and now we will be back into it. We don't do humidity in Melbourne. We do honest dry heat or coolth. None of this humid crap. It is pretty horrid when you work up a sweat skeining yarn on a skein holder - all you need to do is stand up and wiggle one hand whilst holding the yarn in the right place for the skein holder to take it up. Things like scrubbing the shower and doing the dishes had me in a dripping lather!

So we set up the BBQ with our meat on one side and his glutenous muck (vegetarian fake meat is all wheaten - like most of the ingredients are wheat and gluten) on the other, and chat to him and one of his current housemates. This is where a problem arose. He wants to share our place with this housemate. They are not going out together and need separate rooms and also want a room for a study.

Umm, we only have three rooms, and they are full of all our stuff. Y'see we want a house sitter, not to lease our house out to someone. There is a, ahem, subtle distinction - a house sitter uses your stuff and looks after the cats whilst you are away, a lease holder expects to move into an empty house. For us to meet our friend's conditions, we'd need to put most of our stuff into storage. We have a lot of stuff. Plus they need us out by the end of next month, and that is when we'll just be getting back from a whirlwind trip to Fort Collins. We won't even know when we'll be going or if we will be going until after the end of next month. It is entirely possible that Nathan will be going without me whilst visa stuff for me is worked out. Yes I/we could stay with his parents mebbe for a while but we don't really want to. (Update - they don't really need the place until May, which is more do-able.)

So I had a hissy fit on Saturday cos the timelines are just too short and I don't wnat ot have to store a whole heap of our stuff outside the house. Nathan had one too - at first he thought I was unreasonable but then realised I wasn't - so we all had one big meltdown.

Things are better now :-)

One of my sisters reminded me she has a nearly 24 year old son who could house sit - he needs a boot up the backside cos he has it so good at home. Nathan's brother could house sit too. Both of them know cats and know how to deal with them.

During all of this I did a bit of yarn dyeing. I figured that I might as well start dyeing up whatever stock I have left to get it online and hopefully sell it to someone. I also worked on some more fleece stuff. You wouldn't think that dyeing up half a box of yarn could take up so much time, but it does. I've just spent two hours getting the yarn ready for its photoshoot, which does not include the pics themselves. Then I'll need to skein it all up, which will take another hour or so. And do labels.

I've done a bit of spinning too. Unfortunately I cannot get accurate colours of the stuff I've spun - one is reds shading through to browns, the other has plums and violets and taupe (!!). They are pretty and I wish I could show you them.

I discovered that one of the lots of fleece I wanted to sell is actually the very type that I want to try making sock yarn from, so it's no longer for least whilst I work out how much I want to keep of it anyway.

There's knitting too - a pair of not-really Fetchings and also a scarf that I've designed all by myself.

You would think I am only 6 years old on occasion but I get unreasonably proud of creating something without using someone else's pattern, especially when I have to modify say a Barbara Walker chart to make a new pattern that works on my design.

I tried experimenting with public transport. I rode my bike to Monash with Nathan, then decided to catch the bus up to some shops that have special Lynne food. They are 10 minutes drive away. I was too stuffed to ride my bike especially since there is a humdinger of a hill on the way.

It took TWO HOURS to get there and back and buy a bag of gf porridge, a bag of gf biscuits and a satchel for posting yarn in. The buses only run every half hour and I missed the first bus up there and I missed the first bus back, mainly cos I had to wait for 15 minutes in the post office. And I had NO KNITTING! All this queueing and waiting and NO KNITTING! I'm surprised I survived. The string grabs on my backpack got a good workout - they were the only yarn like things I had.

All of this because I got distracted and forgot to get my favourite foods on Saturday. Dang! If I was using the train it would be fine - they run every 20 minutes during the day but every 30 minutes is just Too Long between services. It wasn't even as if the bus was empty - there were always people getting on and off and there were only about 4 seats left on a 45 seat bus by the time it got back to uni. Lord knows how people cope with busses that run once an hour!

Now for some link-mania.

Star Wars fans will die - fancy all that work for this outcome!

If there are such things as sad genes are there also happy genes?

Japanese scientists have made an amazing discovery - using airconditioners actually makes things hotter! Whoda thunk that using electrickery, which generates heat, to cool air inside buildings would make the outside air temperatures hotter! Take hot out of a building, add more hot and it gets hotter!

I want one of these parrots. How cool is that bird?

Some info about using greywater

Breeds of sheep in the UK.

Sensational Knitted Socks TWO is on the way! Woo hoo!

jms has put the new B5 logo on his photoblog. Pretty!

Enough ranting and raving - I've been doing this entry for a day now. LOL


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The lone sock

G'day all!

Phew! Hot again today. Actually, it is not that hot just humid. We Melburnians understand dry heat but not humid heat. We live here cos we don't like tropical heat. However for the last two weeks, or more is it now?, we've had 30+ degree days and humidity.

I've been a bit busy recently doing not a great deal. Funny how that happens, isn't it? I finished the lonely sock - it will never have a mate as there is only one skein of this yarn, which was shoved in the pot to sop up excess dye.

Do you like the way the pooling changes up the sock? It started off as a 64 stitch sock, then pooled on the gusset (toe up with gusset), then after the heel went down to either 62 or 60 stitches and then I started a little cable. This sock was intended as a plain sock to check out if the 160m of yarn promised on the ball would knit a sock. Umm, yep, it did and I had about 10g left over after deciding I couldn't stand doing plain any more, how about a little cabling action? I've got a size 9 foot (I think that is both Oz and US - English style it is a 7. I think. Or about a 41 European. I think). Anyway, I reckon that there is enough yarn there to do a lace pattern. Why is this yarn interesting? Cos whilst it is not tightly spun like sock yarn, it is a wool/nylon blend and is machine washable! The local sock yarn is technically not machine washable, though we find it goes in a cold wash quite happily.

I added some more cables at the top "rib."

I think I might try making another similar sock - plain foot but with two cables on the sides running up. Maybe have cables running up either side of the foot... hmmm...

I've been getting pics of some of the fleece and tops I want to share with others or will never use and putting them up on my new hand spun website. I bought fleece last year that looked like it would be great for socks and to dye up. It would be but I will not get around to using it at my current rate. Plus it is a bit coarser than I like to spin - I love merino and super soft corriedale (not coarser corrie) and polwarth and finn crosses. THere's some hand-dyed tops there too. So for those of you who spin, hop across. Note that I can't send unprocessed fleece overseas or even to some parts of Australia (Tassie and WA I believe). Tops and processed stuff can go anywhere in the world I believe - I remove all the seeds I find in particular. By the way, the website is by no means finished - that amount on it so far has taken a good 2 hours to get working...

Now as for this possibility of moving to the US. I am not as stressed as I was - arranging to get my passport replaced was helpful. I can see a lot of positives as well as negatives. We would be moving to a place that is 17 hours flying time from home. No rellos, no cats, no friends there (yet). If something goes wrong welll..... Then again, there are lots of people I would love to meet in the US and we would do some travelling around the place cos Nathan has online friends there too. Lots of fibre festivals. Estes Park has a fibre festival in June, and it is about 50 miles away. Woo hoo! (what do you mean I haven't been checking these things out?) Lots of fiber websites that only post within the US. (I can see that my fibre friends here will be asking me to get them various things ;-) Amazing scenery. I'm told that Coloradans are real friendly people (did you know Australians say really friendly not real friendly?). New experiences. Snow! A real autumn. Summers that don't fry your butt off.

Some people have asked why we don't take the cats with us? We could but it would mean subjecting them to a day of being terrified and cooped up on planes in the hold, quarantine where we can't access them, costs that would mount up to being more than our own travel costs and then doing it all over again for the trip home. Australia is pretty strict on quarnatine - we are an island remember and do not have many of the diseases found overseas (we have our own special diseases instead, just like our animals are special). Quarantine here is particularly paranoid about things like rabies, but there are plenty of other zoonoses that we don't want here. There is a five month waiting period for quarantine accomodation for animals being brought back into Australia so you have to know about six months in advance of when you are coming home to a) get the necessary vaccinations and b) book your animals into quarantine. If we did take them, they are not indoors cats and if we live in a condo/apartment they could never go outside. Sigh. Pussy cats stay home. They will get used to having different people around. Also we won't have to worry about who will feed them if we go travelling for a week. If all this does eventuate I will miss them dreadfully but they are better off staying here.

Time to go wash some more fleece and skein up some yarn and dye some yarn up so I can get it online - you guys have nearly cleaned out all the sock yarn! Thanks! I only have about 10 more lots I can dye up to sell now. Won't be getting any more until this money thing stabilises. We got the VISA bill today. Nathan had to use the visa to pay for his hotel accomodation in the US. $700 Australian hurts somewhat. I hoped it would come through on the next visa bill (55 days interest free) but alas it somehow managed to sneak in under the wire. It should be reimbursed but it has hit at exactly the wrong time cos I have to pay $1200 in bills by the end of the month and the visa payment comes due then too. We will manage, somehow. DH has gone up to 0.8 of full time, which will make a BIG difference but will take about a month to come through.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Gibbering nincompoop

G'day all!

How sweet! DH did actually go into a yarn shop in SF but he thought USD15 for 50g of yarn was a bit steep. He must've gone to the classiest (or at least most expensive) one in town! He did buy me a knitting novel/anecdote book from the Stanford bookshop (plus a book of jazz pieces arranged for piano for him) but somehow or another the girl have him the WRONG BAG and instead he came home with two totally different books, one by Ralph Nader and the other an anthology. I think we should write to the bookshop and ask for a refund of the money - after all they did give him the wrong books.... (OK, he didn't check them either but you expect to have been given the right books when someone puts them in the bag and shoves them at you.)

Well it looks like we *both* are going to the US in 2 or 3 weeks. I have to go get my passport replaced today.

We doubt Nathan will go work for the big G. He didn't enjoy the atmosphere and would have to be paid a LOT to work there, both for the atmosphere and for the cost of living in Silly Valley, oh and plus the sort of work they are looking at putting him into is not the sort of work he enjoys doing. If DH is unhappy with the work he is doing, everyone is unhappy. However, another mob want us *both* to come see Fort Collins in Colorado, check the place out, would we like to live there?

EEEEK! Gosh, this is getting serious! They are even trying to find me a job! If I have a job getting the right visa stuff, green card, whatever, is easier. But the whole thing will take at least two months.

To top it off nicely, we have a month's worth of money left in our savings. Plus replacing my passport will cost me over $250 and the car rego/insurance and the house rates are all due along with a water bill. Ack. (PS thanks to those who have bought yarn recently. I must do some more dyeing!)

Stressed? ME??? (You don't wanna know my body's reaction to stress.)

So what does a knitter do when she gets stressed? She knits! She plays with some new yarn and gets about 50 rows into an interesting scarf design before she realises that whilst she wanted asymmetry in it, she didn't want *that* asymmetric... LOL

So she rips it back and starts over, this time hopefully in a way that will allow the pattern to do its thang asymmetrically but within the bounds of the scarf itself....

Mr Sock got a fair whack of work on him over the weekend. He's looking good, unlike the scarf that is on my lap ripped back about 45 rows.

OK, here's a new segment for you. What Cheeses Me Off.

We live on a quiet suburban street. It is dead straight and just so happens to be a "short cut" that means people can avoid a couple of sets of traffic lights. All suburban roads in Victoria are 50kmh (say 30mph) zones unless otherwise marked. The number of cars that seem to interpret this to be 50mph (80kmh) is incredible. It seems to be a bit of a drag strip - how quickly can I get to the end of the road? It is particularly bad around dawn - occasionally I wake up around then and hear cars and motorbikes that must be doing close to 100kmh. That's double the speed limit. If a copper was sitting there or a speed camera, that is automatic loss of licence for hmm 6 months? and one helluva fine. But there isn't. So nobody gets done for speeding. Maybe I should write to the local council and whinge at them.

Dang. I've been working on a chart for the scarf and just realised 1.5 hours have gone by and I haven't actually gotten ready to go to the passports office yet, and now I won't be there until lunchtime, which is an horrendously busy time. Dang dang dang. Godsakes I annoy myself sometimes! Ah well, I am out of one colour dye so maybe I'll go to the guild first then come back to the passports office.

D'you reckon it was dry up where we were driving after picking Nathan up from the airport?

Nah! There's still the odd green bush and the faintest hint of green on the hills! ;-)


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hey ma, hey ma, my husband's back

G'day all!

Stinking hot here. Dripping sweat. Yuck.

DH is back from Silly Valley. He warmed to the place but not to the job. The big G would have to offer him a fair whack of salary for him to move us there to work for a number of reasons, not just the cost of living there. It seems they want him to be a code monkey but that is not what he is good at - attention to detail drives him insane. However, problem solving is different (even though it takes nitpicking and attention to detail but it is tracking down things and working stuff out, not looking for one mis-typed character in 2000 lines of code) and ideas? You want Ideas? DH is your man!

Funny isn't it - Nathan enjoyed the area, which he was worried about, more than the campus and the people working at it. Anyway, it will take a week to make any formal offers. In the meantime, we are talking to HP as well cos there is a bloke there who would dearly like to employ Nathan at Fort Collins. And now Nathan gets home and finds one of his mates is working for the big G and he wants Nathan to work with him.

Does anyone from Silicon Valley read my blog? Do you use the train or light rail or bus? DH couldn't work out why people were sitting in traffic jams on the "expressway" when the train was rumbling past. Is is "bad" to catch the train? Is it only something that poor people do? Are people afraid of being mugged? It doesn't cost much and has to be cheaper than driving, and it seems to take less time if the train is just going past cars, etc.

We had a lovely drive on the way home from the airport. Locals will know how long this round trip was - Noble Park, airport (other side of town about as far as you can go - via the ring road it was about 70km, via the tollway about 45km), Wallan, Kilmore, Broadford, Seymour (we expected to go to the alternative living and farming fair there but when we found it was $30 entry and I only had $20....), Strath Creek, Kinglake, home. LOL. It was a long way to go to a place only to find we couldn't afford the entry fee!

Hmm, this is technically a knitting blog. Welllll I did get a fair whack of sock done yesterday at the spinning guild meeting - I took some yarn to show along with the hat I knitted out of the yarn I spun at the weekend spinning course. Once you do the show and tell you then have to sit around for the rest of the meeting and being a spinners/weavers' guild they are not at all fussed by people actually crafting whilst the meeting occurs. The good camera is back but I haven't taken photos yet and can't now - the cool change is coming through so it has gone very dull (and we might even get some rain!). I also started tidying the fibre room up - if we are moving to Colorado then I am going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff or at least compact it somewhat. Plus I have a LOT of fleece to wash. Can't leave it greasy.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have new photos for you! Yay!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

holy guacamole!

G'day all!

Stuff has been falling from the sky! We've just had an extra bonus thunderstorm! It's pretty much blown itself out now, but in an hour our water tanks jumped up 25cm (about 10 inches). Woo hoo! They are now only about 10cm off full!

The lightning was flashing madly and the thunder banging and crashing, and here's me out washing my car with the rainwater and a dirty sock. One particularly close strike, less than a kilometre (maybe half a mile?) away made me reconsider my car washing strategy. (We aren't allowed to wash our cars even with a bucket of water under water restrictions, but we can go to a car wash place that recycles their water. I don't like the car washing places.)

Only two hours ago I was lamenting the lack of rain this month as I stood outside watching my plants crisp under the harsh February sun.

Still, they can crisp up tomorrow and Sunday - 38 is forecast for both days (or about 100F).

Here's an interesting tidbit for you - love is literally in the brain and blokes use slightly different bits to women. No surprises there, eh?

If you ever wondered what this "wimple" or smoke ring looks like cos the picture does NOT show any of the detail, Artis-Anne made one. Pretty, eh?

I must be turning into a Queenslander or something - I keep putting eh on the end of sentences and turning them into questions.

I bought a ball of yarn today. Naughty, aren't I? I am trying to avoid purchasing yarn unless for dyeing and even then I am being extremely cautious. Patons is putting out its new yarns for winter. There's only a few and only two are really new yarns, the others are re-releases (though the new Totem is really really soft - it is now top notch merino, not anything up to 25 micron somethign or other). After looking at the pattern book for it, I brought home a ball of shadow tweed in colourway 6911 (of course - it is blues, mauves and pinks - would *I* *ever* choose black and grey and white yarn! Or browns?) It is not pure wool but is very soft Can't wait to knit it up, but first I need to clean up the loungeroom, which strangely enough means cleaning up the fibre room first so that I can put all the fleece and yarn and stuff from the loungeroom in the room where it belongs.

I'd best get cracking. I have a busy day tomorrow and it will be hot, so I won't feel like doing much after going to the guild meeting in the morning/early arvo and them maybe topping it off with the Sustainable Living Fair at Fed Square. Nathan is back on Sunday morning and you know what that mean? It means PICTURES! New pictures! Plus I can update my new spinning site with pcs of stuff for sale - can't do that yet cos there are no pictures!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Feeding the ducks on the Yarra

G'day all!

(disclaimer - feeding ducks bread is Not Good For Them but gosh it is fun, especially for the kids who had the bread. Plus an apology for having a serious addiction to the landscape mode on the camera ;-)

Hmm, I am not sure if I can squeeze in any fibre content to this post, so if you want to see fibre, look elsewhere!

Last weekend, Nathan and I went up to visit a new friend who is starting up an aquaponics business. (note, if you read the wikipedia article, Nathan does not approve of fully closed-loop systems as toxins can build up in constantly recirculated water.) Aquaponics blends fish farming with hydroponics. The fish provide most of the fertiliser and trace elements for the plants, the plants in turn provide the fish with clean water. The drive was good once we got out of town up beyond Warrandyte. I like getting out of town and into the more rural areas, especially if the driving is challenging.

The roads are twisty and turny,

and it's very hilly in the area, and dead dry:

On the way back, we stopped at the Yarra River (mainly cos when I say I am stopping here, Nathan can't exactly say no since I am the driver). We wandered along the river and I took many photos.

Some people have houses high on the north bank - no flood will reach them!

and a set of quaint stairs run down the steep bank to the river. By the time you've had a swim and climbed all the way back up, you'd need another swim on a hot day!

A popular past time is feeding the (most native) ducks.

The ducks enjoy being fed and are very tame with adults - one wandered right by my feet, like so close it nearly walked over my feet.

In other news, today I had an interview for a job at a local university as an assistant radiation safety officer. It was very odd being interviewed by someone I've known for 22 years, and finding out that she would be my boss and another person I've known since my undergrad years would be my boss boss, and the person who is setting up their database and doing computer stuff is an ex-boyfriend :-) The main interviewer was rather alarmed when I said he was an ex - she thought this meant we would fight, etc, but like 20 years have passed and we never did fight anyway. We all get along quite well, so at least I'd fit into the team. I'll know the outcome next week.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Colour obsession

G'day all!

Here's an interesting one for you.

Colour. Another of my obsessions.

This is what happened when I pot-dyed some red, yellow and blue in one hit.

Dang, the water was a bit too hot so I didn't get good mixing. However, can you see the result is really different to what happens with yellow, cyan and magenta?

DH explains it like this. Red, yellow and blue are pigment dyes. They are pure colours (well I tried to get at close to pure dyes as I can but they are nearly always blends). When you mix them you get mud. See how the blue and red mix to make a dull purple? The yellow and blue mix to make fairly dull greens?

(Hand-dyed, hand-spun, hand-knitted not quite Fetching mitts show the colours off well)

Yellow, cyan and magenta are used in the magazine industry to make coloured pages (along with black, and now they have at least six colours they use, but same diff). Yellow is visible light without blue. Cyan is light without magenta. Magenta is light without yellow. In other words, these colours are blends. When you mix them, you get both them and the colours that are missing until they are mixed. So yellow and magenta make red ( a beautiful pure red too). Cyan and yellow make green. Magenta and cyan make magnificent purples and blues. Different amounts of each of these colours make a whole rainbow of colours - lovely oranges and corals, fascinating greens and turquoises, brilliant mauves and purples and blues. (I'll still need ot use some of the primaries on occaison though, like a true blue is not easy to get.) All mixed together they technically make black but in my experience they just go muddy. You can read more about this on Wikipedia.

So I can see the attraction of using red, yellow and blue but I prefer cyan, magenta and yellow. I can get colours I like more easily. Even if in a test sock used to sop up some excess dye (and test a new yarn for sock making) I have made a multicoloured pooling horror:

:-) (Don't you love the teensy foot in the background? It is mine!)

A cat funny moment. Fireworks for Vietnamese New Year (we have lots of Vietnamese immigrants around here). The cats both ran around the house looking for somewhere to hide. Cheshire ended up choosing under the piano stool (a favoured place to sleep) and half an hour after the fireworks ended, Nutmeg crawled out from under an occasional table in the loungeroom (if it is only occasionally a table, what is it otherwise? ;-). Apparently being near one's humans is the safest place to be!

Another funny cat moment. The cats love chasing moths and flies. We get both here. Often the moth or fly is very small and we get treated to the sight of a cat launching itself a metre into the air over and over or scrabbling along the carpet jumping on something, all to catch an invisible something. It's like those people who wander down the streeet talking loudly to themselves, and then you notice the earbud - they are on the mobile phone.

Finally, we keep water in a container in the bath for the cats since they used to drink from the horrid yucky abominable drain.

Need I say more?


What a difference a call makes

G'day all!

Just got a phone call from DH. Happy happy joy! He is in his hotel (a Hilton hotel, blah) and is jetlagged to all b*ggery. Apparently he didn't sleep much on the plane. His fight from LA to San Jose was cancelled after they had all boarded it - some engineers came along with a roll of duct tape (!!!) and poked and prodded at some stuff then said "Nope, can't fix it. This one is staying here." So it took an extra hour to get on another plane, one that was airworthy. Eek. Then he caught the light rail to Mountain View station, only it was about 5km from where he was meant to be staying and he ended up getting instructions on how to get there from the local Scientology temple.

Apart from the accents and the sheer number of Starbucks everywhere, he almost
feels at home - the street plants are Australian (blue gums, tea-trees and some others). He said there were a lot of car repair places, presumably for all those people who have to drive the 200m from one Starbucks to the next.

Despite dumping DH at the airport, I had a good day yesterday. Toook maaaany photos on the poor old camera but I can't download them. I drove up to Bendigo and bought stuff at the woollen mills there. My bad. I think I will have to sell some online if I can to help pay for it. I walked around the centre of Bendigo for 1.5 hours taking photos of the many wondrous old buildings there. OK, they are only a hundred to 150 years old, but they are old to us. Marvellous buildings, all elaborate and decorated and gargoyled, fueled by the gold rush two centuries ago. Houses too - I love the houses from 80 to 120 years ago. Our house is so plain and boring, being built post war and all in the austerity period.

Once I left Bendi, I just drove. Ended up going through a little town called Heathcote, then Kilmore (alas Silky Gardens, the rose nursery, was shut reopening next Wednesday. No url yet. Naughty people!), then another little place and onto the Hume Freeway. I hate the Hume. It is dull and boring. If you have cruise control you just point the car up the road and occasionally twitch the steering wheel. I don't have cruise control (nor does my car ;-). With an abrupt turn around, I drove back through to Wallan and took a turn that took me back towards the places I wanted to be (ie the easiest trip home). I drove about 400km all up yesterday. I seem to like driving like that - no particular plan, just looking at stuff stopping here and there to take piccies. I chased some storm clouds and managed to get a little rain on the car but not enough to do more than smudge the dirt around (we aren't allowed to wash cars here with tap water, not even with a bucket).

Then I came home to a pusy cat and spent 15 minutes opening up the stupid wound on the back of her head (looks better today, I may not have to fork out $100 at the vet's after all) and being grossed out by it (usually Nathan's job - both the wound fixing and the grossing). Money is an issue, which accounts for some guilt today. We have to pay out more than a thousand in bills by the end of the month, not including the mortage. I am going to do half on the credit card and half out of the account in hope that by the time the VISA is due, we will have some more dough (ie I have a job or Nathan has a more full time job). And I've just looked online and found that Nathan is now not earning enough to pay the mortgage. Crapitty crap crap crap. I'm feeling pretty flat at present, partly due to worrying about money, partly due to Nathan being away, partly due to uncertainty about our future and partly cos I seem to have a never-ending gut bug (though that could just be stress). The thought of moving overseas both terrifies me and intrigues me. I am very much attached to this land and am rather attached to the cats, even the pusy one. Would I cope with living in a place where they speak funny and get a real winter and drive on the wrong side of the road? Would I have decent social interaction? (there are an active guild and SnB in both likely locations.) Would I miss having a garden ( I love pottering and pulling up the odd weed or 10 and planning what to plant where)? Would I miss this place and the cats and my friends and family so badly it tore me up into little pieces?

Until I try, noone will know. It could be really fun and a growing experience. I'd certainly get a chance to experience all those yummy fleece types and yarns available in the US but not here. We may have about the same land mass but we only have a tickety-boo over 20 million people, which means a much smaller market. (Oddly, not many people want to live in a full on desert with very little water or food. Dunno why...) Anyway it is all moot unless we can get green cards.

Happy Valentine's Day to those who will. I was away for our last anniversary and this time DH is away for Valentine's Day. Sigh. The course of twue wuv never runs smooth....

Next post will be somewhat more colourful and upbeat than this - I have pics that I downloaded from the camera before it left.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

argh! Headless chook time!

G'day all!

We are running around like headless chooks (chickens) here. Nathan is flying out tomorrow to his in-person interview with the Big G. Here's us, trying to reduce our use of the car, and G wants to fly Nathan half way around the globe to have one day in the G-plex. sigh.

Anyway, I am going to go for a drive unless Cheshire's abscesses (yep, plural, on a cat who is not allowed out at night and can only be fighting her unsister...) get pus-ier. Most are looking better after lots of wiping with salty wet tissues and opening up. Annoying animal. I *need* this drive (although I am trying to cut down on use of the car) - the stress of all this job stuff means I have to run away a bit. But if I have to take the cat to the vet, not happy Jan!

I have been knitting. I have been spinning, LOTS. I have been playing with a number of my fleeces. I am very much enjoying the dark brown one. Me, spinning brown! I seem to spin a lot when I am feeling stressed. I don't have pics.

I let DH cut another hole in the wall. It made him happy, especially since it worked ok. He has pics. Apparently I am a very nice wife because I let him cut holes in the walls. His best mates' wives have total and utter hissy fits about that sort of thing. I am less fussed because I figure it usually is for a good reason. However, I will veto some projects (eg using a car radiator to air condition the study) - spousal approval includes the aesthetics of the project.

I am being utterly boring at the moment. I have a job interview on Thursday - hooray! The email telling me about the time (but not yet exact place) came from one of my friends who works in a similar, more senior, role. I have to pack Nathan's bag, or at least fold and roll his clothes up so he can pack it. I am trying to get details of yarn shops in Silicon Valley so he can go there and buy me something for Valentine's Day - he lands on Tuesday, US time (before he takes off from here! Did you Yankees realise you are behind the times? ;-), spends a day with the possible new employer and flies out on Friday evening. He gets home on Sunday morning - he loses a whole day in transit due to the date line. I've also been trying to get details of PT there - he won't be driving a car. We drive on the left side of the road. The US is on the right. You would not believe how hard it is for us to cross the road there, and if any Americans came here, they would find the same - all your reactions are just plain wrong. The places you expect cars to come from are all wrong, possibly fatally so. So PT it is. A bus goes straight past his hotel and links to various train stations so I figure if we point him to a bus then he can get a train and go to SF or whatever.

I'll leave you with some links:

For those who are into nutrition...
(note this was linked from Crazy Aunt Purl's blog but I already had it open after a friend sent it to a list I am on)

Some info about native earwigs (one of my least favourite insects - cockroaches are fine, earwigs are NOT!!!!).

A sideways knitted sock pattern.

13 unsolved scientific mysteries.

Two different versions of a story about "prehistoric lovers."

A facetious article on how to mark (grade) exams/essays/assignments.

A subject close to the heart of many of us. Chocolate, the blog.

Finally, I am unlikely to have new pics for the rest of the week as Nathan will take the Good Camera. This means I am stuck with the one with the fuzzy lens or the ancient one that I can't download pics from (though it still takes a good photo) - I have to wait until Nathan comes home to download it onto his laptop.


Friday, February 09, 2007


G'day all!

I am now on the new Blogger. Ooo, err!

I've updated my shop and added some discounts.

I have stuff to talk about but no time - it just took me half an hour to get googlemail to accept me and we are expected for dinner in 20 minuts and the place is 20 minutes away.

To keep you occupied if you can't find better elsewhere, you can look at my trips page :-)

Back with a real post soon!


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

One sock bad

G'day all!

One sock bad, four socks good!

Those socks are now 99.9% finished. Only the ends have to be snipped. I finished both of them yesterday. Hooray for me! I only have what 18 lonely socks now? (If I can count I think I started off with 20 lonely socks not the 18 I thought I had in that post!) So that is a pair of Socks that Rock 2006 Sock Club "Marble Arches" and one pair of husbandly socks in Trekking in a pattern nominally known as Thuja from Knitty. As always, I changed both patterns. The STR pattern was done toe up and I played with the order of the mock cable pattern so the socks don't actually match. The Thuja pattern has extra ribbing and stuff, and I should go see if it was a toe up or a top down - I like toe up when I have no idea if I'll finish the socks with the yarn available....

I did a different cast off on the STR socks. Normally I do the knit one, knit one, pass the first stitch over the second, etc - a really really common cast off. This time I did a sewn cast off. It literally took hours (about 140 stitches at the top of those socks) but the results look better than my normal cast off. I got the idea out of Montse Stanley's "Knitter's Handbook." I can't find an equivalent online source at present.

Here's the cast off.

Grab a darning/wool needle (it would be easier if you didn't have a needle as big as your knitting needles and don't even think about using a bodkin with that big lump at the end). You'll need about 4 times as much yarn as your knitting is wide.

Step 1:

Push the needle through the second stitch from front to back ("knitwise"):

Step 2:

Pull the yarn through. Then push the needle back through the first stitch from back to front ("purlwise") and under the loop of yarn laying at the front of the cast off.

Step 3:

Pull the yarn through and snug it. Drop the first stitch off the knitting needle. Repeat until you reach the last stitch. It isn't really a stretchy cast off, but if you want to do it at the top of a stretchy item leave the stitches a little looser. (I guess that goes for almost any bindoff - a little looser means more ease.) I got away with this cast off cos these Marble Arch socks have a ruffle at the top. Also for circular items, make sure you do step one for the stitch that was the first one to be dropped off the knitting needle - the stitch that you started the cast off on is less obvious that way.

Hope this makes sense. I think the resulting edge looks nicer than the normal cast off, which sorta rolled and looked icky on the sock.

Sherri asked about how I made the bullions on my lurid green, purple and pink yarn. I'll do a little tute on that - not that I am an expert by any means - and show you chaps when I get some colourful stuff on the bobbins. At present I'm spinning some grey fleece with the intent of overdyeing the resulting yarn. It is lovely fleece but I think if I am doing weird plying tricks it is easier to show how it is done with two different colours.

I also have many pics to update my shop with. More sock yarn will be online soon! I've been so flat chat recently looking for jobs, helping DH with thesis (don't ask about the thesis - it is horrid and his supervisor is being a complete PITA), calming DH down about the upcoming trip to the US, flogging myself in the gym (ok, once only but after a hard bike ride it really knackered me), dyeing stuff, spinning stuff, visiting the spinners' guild and chatting, visiting a friend's place on the night of their house auction (twilight auction, house passed in) and catching up with their whole family, meeting one friend's new squeeze, even getting a little singalong round the piano!

Oh, for those who would like to knit a chemo cap or two in memory of Marta, headhuggers has some good patterns. I am told that woollen caps are not good for chemo-sensitized scalps - apparently the really soft synthetics and things like the Yarn of Satan (we call it Feathers here - the tape like yarn with the fringe of polyester sticking out one side) are good. If you happen to have any silly fun fur type yarn hanging around, you could try the no hair day cap - apparently popular with kids and outgoing types.

If instead of knitting/sewing/crocheting a cap, you would just like to leave a comment about your memories of Marta and her shop, the impressions you first received when going there, etc, I will collate the comments and bind them up into a book for her family.

Now for something nice to finish off with.

Cheshire "We are not amused"

Or maybe we are...


Saturday, February 03, 2007

All over the shop

G'day all!

Do other peoples out there, outside Oz, use all over the shop to mean that they are discombobulated, they are totally unfocused or incapable of doing meaningful stuff?

Well that is how my weekend has been.

DH was talking to a friend who normally resides in Silicon Valley. He is setting up a new operation in Fort Collins in Colorado and is angling to get Nathan to work for him there. So Nathan's put in an app for a job there. The other interview is still on and may be extended somehow to get him out to Colorado. For any people from Colorado, it seems to me that it is not quite as fruit loopy a place as Silicon Valley.... Can you confirm this? I've already looked up to see if it has any yarn shops, which it does along with a possible place for spinning stuff :-)

I found out yesterday that my very favouritest shop (ok, maybe apart from Marta's) has been sold to a big big business, which is why it has not been open since before Christmas. I am very disappointed cos this place was totally gluten-free bakery and made really really REALLY nice food. The company that has taken them over is known for the mediocrity of its produce. They have already started trialling the plain pies and party pies and plain bread and grain bread as frozen stuff in a local supermarket, but it really isn't the same. We used to get a huge variety of stuff - 10 different sorts of pies, all sorts of cakes, breads, etc. To be suddenly back to their least interesting and flavoursome pie is like walking into a pub and being told the only beer they have is VB whereas last week they stocked all sorts of interesting gourmet beers. (Why am I using a beer analogy when I can't drink it (OK, there is a GF beer available) and don't like it? Cos many people do like beer.) The bakery didn't bother telling anyone before Christmas either - perhaps the idea was they continue trading cos they said they would open three weeks after Christmas....

So I've been spewin' buckets as we say here (ie I am not very happy at all - two of the best places in Melbourne gone!). Yes I can still go to Sillyaks, but they are a good 45 minute drive away (or 1.5 hours on the train and shank's pony) and are even more expensive the Uncle Rick's, if that is at all possible. However, Sillyaks is near the spinners' guild.... 8-)

How about some pretty?

Skeins drying against a blue blue sky. We've had two nice warmish days in a row. Tomorrow should be a stinker - 38 or 100F with a change coming through then a week of fine, dry weather again. I am contemplating going for a drive to the beach tomorrow. I like driving in hot weather. Even though I only have a little bubby car, he has air-conditioning. No car I ever own in Australia will be without proper air-con again. My first car had what we call four by 60 air-con - open the windows and drive at the speedlimit ;-)

Anyway, those skeins will be for sale. I need cash. Hateses that but Nathan has not finished his PhD yet so his post doc doesn't start yet.... and despite my increasing efforts I have no job. One rainbow skein isn't for sale - it is a new yarn that is shorter than the old skeins and technically not sock yarn, but it is machine washable. I am going to knit up a sock in it and test it out. There's also a skein of brown handspun that I decided to dye up, see how it came out.

Here's some that went on Wednesday night - thanks SnBers! It helped me a lot :-)

(the sea greens again do not show up well on the camera or screen. V.annoying)
If anyone likes the look of those yarns, I can do another batch for you.

I've been doing a bit of spinning - I had some leftover bits and bobs so I spun them up and plied them together with bullions and nubbly bits. I like it - green with purple and hot pink :-) I think it looks like a very enthusiastic garden and am planning to make it into a hat or a scarf.

Some finn tops spun up - I love the colour of this lot cos it makes me think of a misty sunrise.

I've got some blue I just finished spinning this afternoon. So pretty!

Our first sunflower opened yesterday.

This bloke is supposed to be a giant Russian but he only comes up to my chest. I guess I need to fix up the soil in that spot. Funnily enough, the buds follow the sun but the open flower doesn't. I love sunflowers. I'll get a better shot tomorrow I hope that will show the multiple little flowers in the centre of the big bract.

Finally, a pussy picture. Nutmeg was not very pleased with me for standing up and waking her from her nap, where her head was on her front paws.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Back to the grindstone

G'day all!

Long time no blog - the last few days have been a bit insane. Having spent most of the yesterday with DH in a computer science building, you would think I would have access to a computer. HA!

Anyway, looks like I'll be applying for various jobs here - I have two that I have to get in today. DH is bucking up against the idea of flying to the USA for an interview mainly cos the company is not answering any of his questions about the process, they don't bother answering emails for days on end, they appear to want him to do a job that he isn't interested in (no interest = no performance), they have scheduled the interview without booking the flights and want him to pay for the car hire, drive to their offices in an unfamiliar country on the wrong side of the road, pay for hotel stay (and they will reimburse him) plus there is the greenhouse gas issue - that return flight will put more carbon out than driving my car lots for a year. I can drive a long way in a year. The time for the interview is two hours earlier than any flight will touch down in SF. You might say well that gives Nathan a day to recover, but I usually find jet lag is worse on the second day than on the day you flew. I do not think they understand that Nathan will have been in transit for nearly 24 hours and will not be in any state to drive when he gets there. I feel the HR people have done very little flying, let alone have flown to Australia. They are really not impressing us at this point. We are getting the impression that it is such an honour being interviewed by them that we should bow and scrape and grovel to be allowed to work there.

So I had best get on with trying to find a job here. No grand adventure for us unless they will answer Nathan's queries. I am a bit sad about it all - it was exciting, now it is all gone bung. I thought I might finally be able to meet up with some bloggers and go to some big fibre events but instead I will remain in this little pond and continue to struggle. There are compensations though - the cats, the garden, friends, family, familiarity.

Now I have some pretties to show you. I did lots of dyeing earlier in the week. I took some of the yarn along to the SnB meeting on Wednesday evening to show people and came home with only half of what I took....

Without further ado, I give you

Tiger (orange black and white, will form a weird striping pattern)

Leopard (won't quite spot but has yellowy-orange spots)

Marta-black (rainbow colours on the same pre-dyed blank as tiger and leopard)

and then there is this one:

how pretty! Sorta jewel like colours.

Only when I split it into the two skeins:

oh dear... either ball of yarn is nice but they are not a matching pair, just a toning pair.

I have to update the shop yet. This has been a really busy week. I am not sure why but I haven't been home much so I've not had much computer time. If you like any of the yarn, leave a comment or email me (look at the top right hand corner of my blog for my addy). Tiger, Leopard and Marta-black are all $8 a ball. The jewel tones are $6 each and would be great for small projects - 190m skeins will make a lot but not a pair of socks for adult feet.

I should show off the other things I've been doing but no pics and no time!