Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Will it never end?

G'day all!

A while ago I got the call to participate in SAM5. I was on the waiting list and got called up in March.

Alas I've lost my sock knitting mojo. Last month's socks, the Spring Socks, were hard to get done in time for the deadline (especially since I kept changing the pattern -I was making it up as I went along). This month's socks, well.... They are really pretty socks. I pulled my finger out some last week in between making christmas stocking. I finished the first sock yesterday evening at the SnB gathering in Campbell (at Sonoma Chicken Coop around fiveish if you are in the area). I've knitted the second sock over the last two days - hardly 48 hours from start to almost finished.

Almost finished. Today I've knitted from the heel up. It has been a struggle. I am soooo over these lovely socks. I just want to finish off the Christmas stockings for my friends' kids and knit me a nice new top but I have to finish these socks.

Can you believe I can't get motivated to finish the last 10 yes TEN rows? If I wanted I could knock them off in much less than an hour but y'see they have lots of knit through the back stitches. For some reason I have decided I don't like ktb.

I guess I'll keep plugging away cos if I do, then I will finish them and I'll be able to show pics and you can gush over them and I'll put them away for summer and mebbe find some panda Silk that I know I have someplace, or maybe the silkie STR that I have stashed... But first I will finish the stockings and also my new top-in-progress.

On a slightly different note, when you load this page at Jo-ann, do you get a list of supplies including embroidery scissors, a magnifying light and acrylic paint (that is out of stock)? Weird! I guess their database was told that it needs acrylic so it found acrylic (after all the pattern is made from Homespun, which is not at all homespun but is somewhat acrylicky).


Friday, April 25, 2008

ANZAC Day 2008

G'day all!

Another Anzac Day. April 25. It has already come and gone in the two countries that hold it most dear (that would be Australian and New Zealand - ANZ) but it is still the 25th here.

This is the first Anzac Day I've "celebrated" away from Oz. Goodness, guess who forgot to do her minute's silence at 11am? I probably was quiet then but not in deliberation.

Last year I wrote a very long post with pictures and quotes from postcards sent back by my Pop (maternal grandfather). This year I have not much to add except reading the coverage and the tales in the local newspaper Back 'Ome gave me a few more reflective moments. All those young men and women going off to places far that they had never dreamed of seeing - it would've been like going to the moon!

Anyway it is very odd to be here, where Anzac means nothing. Then again, Americans in Australia would feel the same sort of dislocation when it comes to July 4 and Thanksgiving. Oddly enough Australians celebrate neither of those events (which surprises some Americans as they are so central to US culture).

So, since this is my fibre blog, I shall show something with lots of fibre!

I am making a Christmas stocking for some friends, or more for one of their kids. Here's how it looked a day or two ago.

Intarsia. Hmm. To neaten it up (and on occasion get that extra 10" of yarn rather than having Even More Ends to tie in) I pull the stitches one by one. You can see the result - that green thread looped across the front.

Plus I bought a little crochet cotton, which I intend to hold double to make some sort of string bag. Eventually. But first I have to finish the Christmas stocking (knitting is complete, now for the ends and some embroidery/duplicate stitch) and a pair of socks (first sock is about to start the heel turn) by the end of the month. Fun! (and if anyone knows of a pic of the same design stocking that is finished, let me know - I don't have a pic only the graph.)

Also in the pic is a copy of "Knitting on the Road" by Nancy Bush. Apparently it is now out of print, so I scoured the net for a whole 10 minutes and found a copy for sale at what I considered a reasonable price (about USD18) and snaffled it. Woo hoo!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

How to lose inches instantly!

G'day all!

The other day I grabbed a different tape measure to the one I usually use.

Goodness gracious, I had lost about 3-4cm! (For those imperialists, that's about 1-1.5 inches, oh except I should say 1 - 1 1/2 inches cos it seems Americans prefer fractions. Those of us in the metric age struggle relatively with fractions, especially when dividing them - much easier to divide 1.375 by 2.5 than 1 3/8s by 2 1/2....)

So I thought the new tape measure must be wrong. I lined up the tape measure with a cardboard ruler that cannot possibly stretch and guess what? My old tape measure is wrong!

Hooray! I am smaller than I thought I was, which explains why I fit into a size smaller clothing than I should. Duh!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

partial project

G'day all!

Sarah was interested in what I am making and what I am making it from.

Well, here is the front (incomplete!) of the Drops tshirt I am making.

It is in Classic Elite Premiere yarn, a 50:50 cotton:tencel blend. I am sure it will pill and not look so pretty in all too short a time but we will try it out. it is very soft against my skin. The contrast (which is not part of the pattern) is a slightly heavier weight - 100% pima cotton called T'ika from Mirasol. The colours are not quite right but I have jiggered them to be within some sort of coo-ee of what they really should be. They are a little greyer/less saturated than shown. So far it has been a pretty easy knit, as long as I remember to cross the cables correctly. 8-D

I was knitting it at Nathan's work yesterday and one of his workmates asked me how do I do the cables without a cable needle. This was a guy! I shall have to question him further at some point.

I've had to put down the top for me for the time being as I have to some special knitting to do.

I was going to show the progress on my new socks, but forgot to edit and upload the pic and have to do dinner shortly. The designer of the sock is a local yarn shop owner. It is a shop I have not been to yet (the only day I got there they had just shut) (Purlescence in Sunnyvale). Speaking of local yarn shops, a new yarn shop opened on Saturday and it is only a mile away = I can WALK to it! Green Planet Yarn.

Oh dear, we are in for strife now! Or at least our budget. It has lots of American yarns and a heap of stuff that is great for knitting summer tops out of. I can see I will be investing in some bamboo (even though I am not sure how "green" these yarns are - after all they are extruded like rayon and even acrylic/nylon but at least are based on plant polymers not petroleum, but do come from China...). Cotton is not particularly environmentally sensitive either but I can wear it against my skin, unlike wool (where only the softest wools are tolerated by my hands and feet and not at all by my head or my body/arms/legs).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

G'day all!

Earth Day has rolled around again.

This year for Earth Day, what have I done?

Well, I rode my bike and took public transport. I went shopping (eek!) and looked for stuff that is all reusable or recyclable or will rot. That is my new thang - everything I buy I want to be able to recycle, reuse or compost. Sometimes I can't get away from the Bad Stuff (use once, throw it away, never reuse or recycle it) but a lot of the time there is a work around.

One thing that is fascinating me is how dependent we have become on plastic. Plastic is EVERYWHERE! We line our plastic rubbish bins with plastic liners to throw out our plastic wrappers and baggies and containers. Our food comes wrapped in plastic. We store stuff in plastic. Our furniture is made of plastic or coated/covered in plastic. Light switches, power points, lamps, computers, clothes, fridges, kitchenwares, all sorts of things are made out of plastics, lined with plastic, coated with plastic.... Some plastics are worse than others - PVC is a particularly nasty plastic compared to say polypropylene. Most plastics come from petroleum. There's a problem straight off!

What on earth did we do before we had plastic? I can remember bread used to come in waxed paper wrappers. I can remember when the milkman had a horse and milk came in 600ml (pint) bottles. Here in America the paper bag never seems to have gone away but in Oz paper bags died with the dinosaurs - it would have to be 20 years since the last supermarket stopped using paper bags back 'ome. But all those things like gladwrap (saran wrap), packaging, all sorts of stuff - what on earth did we used to do before them?

So what am I going to keep trying to do for the sake of our Earth - after all we have to look after it cos it's the only Earth we have.

Well I'll try to:

  • not buy stuff simply because I want it - do I need it, is it useful to me?
  • buy needed/useful stuff that is recyclable/reusable or will rot down eventually
  • buy local as much as possible
  • not take plastic bags, and if I do, make sure they can be recycled
  • not get a car and continue to use my bike, feet and PT
  • look for alternatives for non-recyclable stuff and plastics
  • encourage alternative/renewable energy (hard here cos our electricity retailer provides whatever you danged well get)
  • grow some of my own produce
  • eat at least one vegetarian meal a week

If I was at home, we would go further. We have been working on a heating system that uses solar energy. It doesn't need expensive photovoltaics, it just collects the heat of the sun. We would be collecting rainwater and reusing grey water (we were before). Eventually we'd look at PV. We would be trying to tread more lightly on this planet of ours.

Am I going to stop being a consumer? Nope! But I will be a lot more mindful about what I buy and why I am buying it and where I am buying it from and the impacts it is having on the environment.

What are you doing for Earth Day? What about every day?

Here's something I did instead of going to IKEA and buying a Billy bookcase. For whatever reason I adore IKEA but do I need another particle board bookcase covered in some weird foil plasticy stuff? I certainly needed a new bookcase.

We hauled ourselves to Bunnings, oops Home Dee-po, and bought us some pine. Alas it is not FSC or whatever it is pine but it is wood. And it is plantation stuff. Last week I started putting it together with instructions from Nathan.


(OK, it has acrylic cord providing some stability and stopping the books going off the back. My bad!)

Lynne's country craftsman, oops, craftsperson, bookcase. Now any carpenter will kill themselves laughing at it but it does actually hang together - the mortise and tenon joints are quite tight fitting despite how it looks. We will prolly make another bookcase but this time mebbe not from pine. Pine is very soft and we had a lot of problems with tear out (arrowed) - the wood doesn't like sticking to itself and would rather get ripped out by the drill or the chisel. I have to find it some low or no voc stain and finish. Home Dee-po only had stuff that is based on petrol and I am sooooo not good with oil based stuff.

In other news, I've been saving up some links, not at all to do with Earth Day in particular, just things I thought were interesting.

It seems that we have been wondering what's to eat for dinner for a long time - maybe nearly 2 million years!

A piece on one of my favourite tv shows Mythbusters. Not that I have a tv so it is pretty hard to watch the show unless we can rent the DVDs someplace.

Which reminds me - we've just finished watching an Oz kids' tv series that Nathan had fond memories of. Spellbinder. It was pretty good for all that it is a kids' show that was made over 10 years ago (ie clunky cgi). We watched two episodes a night, and some nights we just couldn't wait to see what would happen next. One night Nathan watched the eps by himself and had to rewatch them the next night with me. Another night we were just plain Too Late to watch them and he got reallllly grumpy. LOL

Another link from the ABC Oz science show - some Big Questions.

Finally, some pretty pictures of the place I rode to today.

San Jose has a heritage rose garden in the Guadalupe park. In winter it looked all very sad of course but now?

Va-voom! Gosh I would love to have any of a hundred of those plants, even though the poor beggars were covered in aphids. Far too many aphids to squish between my fingers. I was almost tempted to ride all the way back home (6 or 7 miles) and more to buy a container of ladybirds from the nursery. Still the roses are very very pretty. And I have a LOT more photos where those came from!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Nothing like a new project

G'day all!

Y'know when I read that subject line, I see two ways to interpret it in particular.

a) Nothing is better than a new project


b) What I am up to is actually an old project.

Well I have TWO new projects on the needles! A new pair of socks (but as usual I am doing them toe up so the pattern is upside down) and a summer top for me. I've finished the second secret project, it is blocked, it has been admired, now it needs to be photographed and sent off to its recipient. Hooray for finishing stuff! I am contemplating writing it up and sending it to spin-Knitty.

I have not finished some other bits and bobs - they are on hold pending the outcome of someone else's not very secret project.

Wait a moment - I have to go rummage around for some photies. I've been a Very Dull Blogger recently - no photos! They won't relate to anything much but the blog must be fed photos.

Mmmm, something good for you spinners out there. CVM/rambouillet. Like silver clouds. Yum!

Look at that lock! That is about 4 or 5 inches of fleecy goodness!

What's your favourite fleece?

And for gardeners, here's a shot of our patio from about 10 days ago. The icelandic poppies are just coming into bloom, the plants that I've potted on are starting to take off - things are looking good!

Since then I've potted on a few more plants and split up some seedlings to move them into their own little seedling condos (little yoghurt containers). We are now proud parents of bean, sunflower, xerochrysum, basil, lettuce and rudbeckia seedlings. Plus I found a Monarda at a local nursery so it came home with me along with a punnet of small growing echinaceas. I love the prairie wildflowers that were local to Colorado, and the mountain ones - hope I can find some good stuff here apart from the pretty Californian poppies I see everywhere.

Time for dinner - going out tonight! A local knitting guild :-) Due to the kindness of once-strangers I am getting out and meeting more knitters, and being introduced to more vices (at least they are sources of vice - yarn shops!).

PS Anyone local like some garlic plants? I've got a few too many (for me that is all of them too many - I am not a big garlic fan!).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Have you ever... ssk vs k2tog

G'day all!

So I am knitting frantically on a Secret Project. I've had it on the go for waaaaaay too long. I want it finished. I've spun up some more yarn and all for it.

Hooray, I said at 9:40 last night - I've finished! All I need to do is graft the two ends together! Yay me!

At 10:40, after ripping some of it back cos I had made a *very* obvious mistake, I finished again!

At 11:30, I finished for the third time! Hooray for me! Yep, the same mistake on the *other* part of the project.

Now when I look at it, I see that on one, along the lines of faggoting/ladders that add interest to otherwise boring stocking stitch, I've used ssk on one side and k2tog on the other of the ladder. So that is ssk. yo, k1, yo, k2tog on one end of the piece and k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk on the other. Alas! *And* I've changed my mind on occasion about which to use. Ah well. It all looks ok until you examine closely, knowing what you are looking for. Yes it would only take another day to fix it up but I want to have the thing finished and I am not sure the recipient will notice. Must say though that the pattern looks better to me when it is ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog. (Writes mental note to self.)

Can you see pics of it? Not yet! Later. Including the differences between the ssk and k2tog order. Haven't got pics yet - I finished the knitting late last night and it is dull here this morning (after days and days and days of sunshine).

In other news, we've done all sorts of things this week. We got our taxes done on Monday, well Nathan got his taxes done - I don't have any income at this stage (though now I can have an income. Whee!) I haven't yet applied for a social security number cos I've been slack. This week I've been feeling crook, crook in the way when I have a reasonable amount of milk. It makes me feel weak and nauseated with heartburn, and even the excitement of palpitations if I do much exercise. I've been working on a set of shelves made out of pine. Gosh pine is horrid to work with - I've been used to hardwoods for any wookworking projects and whilst pine is soft and easy to saw, it also has terrible tear out problems. The good news with the shelves is that they all stick together - my mortise and tenon joints work - the bad news is that they look rustic (ie the mortises are all wonky) and need some more adjustments so that they fit better. They'll always look rustic.

I've been quiet this week cos my desk is being the saw horse outside. It is hard to write much when you have to sit on the floor with your monitor on the tool box to get it high enough so that you don't totally kill your neck/back. The old knees are not so happy about the arrangement either - having to bend lots and lift me up and down. The carpet is pretty horrible too - cheap scratchy nylon. Sitting or lying on it is uncomfortable (hence a layer of fleecy fabric between me and it). I've noticed lots of places have nasty cheap nylon carpet that gets replaced very frequently. Must take an environmental toll.

Enough blathering!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Socks

G'day all!

These were my last FO for March. It is now pretty much the Ides of April and I still haven't blogged them. So without further ado, I give you

Spring Socks! (isn't foreshortening a wonderful thing?)

Do you think I like star toes? These are toe up socks so the swirls are created by increases not decreases.

Yarn - Hipknits, a kind gift from Mrspao for my birthday last year. I think it is a merino/angora/cashmere blend but Hipknits doesn't label their yarns with anything but their URL, which isn't very helpful. I didn't realise how lovely the yarn was until I started knitting with it and sussed that it was the same as Posh Yarn's "Emily" sock yarn. Thanks, mrsp!

The heels are different - I wanted to see how the eye of partridge worked on them.

I was aiming to knit these by Easter but of course Easter was early. However, I figured the pattern (such as it is) was perfect for this time of year. Admittedly it doesn't feel very much like spring here today - it is nearly 30C, or somewhere in the 80s for those of you unmetricated. (What a great word - unmetricated. I don't think it existed until I just typed it.)

I mucked about with the motif a bit

until I worked out a version that I like. I think the flower looks nicer on a stalk.

I was going to write the pattern up for these but it takes a bit of fussing as the number of motifs and the length of the flower stalk depend on your foot length (and how long you want the cuff). Plus the yarn is not a typical sock weight - it is more like a medium weight Socks That Rock. I'll see if I can't get the motif up so that you can place it on the socks where ever you please. That is if you want to make spring socks too!


Friday, April 11, 2008


G'day all!

In a recent fit of badness, I bought some yarn!

Ooo, I am so naughty! It was yarn for which I have no purpose!

Y'see there was a knit meeting at Knitting Arts in Saratoga. They are clearing out some of their excess yarn. Oh dear.

Here's a bag that is supposed to make a shawl or wrap but I thought it would be good to make something else, not that I know what that something else might be - maybe some of it could become a tank top. Or maybe not. It has lots of noice yarns in it in rather Lynne colourways.

The whole lot cost me $30 (plus tax).

Then there were bags and bags and bags of yummy Koigu KPPM in semi-solids. Oh I lusted! Lust lust lust!

Eventually, a few of us cut a number of deals and I ended up with this:

at a bargain price. Woo hoo! Got me some Koigu - my first ever.

Heh. Would you think I've got an extreme case of the crabs at the moment? Gosh I am snippy. I've written two snippy emails to places today (one to a place that keeps asking me to renew my subscription even though they have not sent me any magazines for months (and yes I have updated the address ages ago), and the other to a mob who are having a native plant sale up in the hills, totally out of PT and bike reach (unless we want to ride three different buses for two hours and then ride our bikes up a narrow and steep road into the hills). Of course if we had a car, it would be different but then again having a car is not exactly upholding the native plant ethos IMO).


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Licensed to earn!

G'day all!

I am still a slacker - still haven't dealt with the huge backlog of pics that I have but I have news!

I am now allowed to go find work! I have a work permit!

Yesterday I got a letter saying that my application had been approved and today? A pretty card with an awful photo of me showed up. Hooray!

I am a little shocked by it all cos the application only went in last month and I expected to wait until June, so now I guess I should be getting my resume up to date (having not worked for hmm, well over a year) and looking for jobs that I would enjoy.

Plus if I want I can start dyeing yarn again, and update the yarnivorous yarns website. Some friends back 'ome have the old yarn and fibre in tubs but I foolishly didn't label the tubs and I don't know who has what yarn and fibre - makes it hard to sell stuff when it isn't easily locatable!

And I can become a Real Person! Until now I've basically only existed in the eyes of homeland security, and I have not been a Real Person. To be a Real Person in the USA, you have to have a social security number. Without an SSN, you are pretty much crippled. You can't have an SSN unless you are eligible to work. SSNs are used for all sorts of purposes not just tax. Like when I have an SSN I can then apply online for various things, I can develop a credit rating (more important than you would think here), all sorts of stuff that I can't think of in all the excitement.

In less exciting news, now that I am over 40, the doctors are less willing to prescribe the Pill, and also want me to do things like mammograms! Holy guacamole, I don't want a mammogram! I am quite obviously not a Lady of a Certain Age and my boobs are not squishable. Anyway, it all makes me wonder if women just plain don't have sex after 40 cos let's face it, condoms are not much fun! (Especially when one is a bit dodgy with latex.)

On that charming note, I bid you


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Magknits goes bye-byes

G'day all!

Hope you weren't making a lot of stuff from Magknits! Kerrie pulled the site down!

Ravellers can be happy as various of the designers will put the designs on Ravelry (search for Magknits and read the threads) and the Island of Misfit Patterns has offered to host patterns there (handy for non-Ravellers). It will take a bit of time though cos various of the designers are going to reformat the patterns into PDFs etc.

In the meantime, you can google for the pattern name and look at the cached version (no pics though cos that links to magknits).

Bizarre eh?


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Skatole - ICK!

G'day all!

Well possibly not *That* good.

I've just discovered the joys of skatole.

Never heard of it?

Well here is what wikipedia has to say about it:

Skatole or 3-methylindole is a mildly toxic white crystalline organic compound with chemical formula C9H9N and CAS number 83-34-1. The compound belongs to the indole family and has a methyl substituent in position 3 of the indole ring. It occurs naturally in feces (it is produced from tryptophan in the mammalian digestive tract), beets, and coal tar, and has a strong fecal odor. In low concentrations it has a flowery smell and is found in several flowers and essential oils, including those of orange blossoms, jasmine, and Ziziphus mauritiana. It is used as a fragrance and fixative in many perfumes and as an aroma compound. Its name is derived from the Greek root skato- meaning "dung". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skatole last accessed 8 April 2008)

This page has some more relevant (to my situation) stuff to say about it. Scroll to near the bottom, after the civet cats. I'll wait.

Too-too-too, too-to-to-to-to-to-too....

My lovely fat pork loin chops that I sliced up and started stir frying are from a BOAR! Oh what a terrible crushing boar! OMG, I was hovering over the wok and felt like throwing up! Me! I get a little nauseated on very rare occasions but this was foul! It was worse, far worse, than the milk that should've been thrown out a week before.

I was STIR FRYING POO! Or so it smelt. Argh.

One day I will post pictures of the pretty socks I knitted with the yarn a friend sent me. One day... and pics of the baby stuff I've been knitting for someone else. Not me!



Monday, April 07, 2008

Blessed hummer!

G'day all!

oh boy oh boy! A hummer has discovered the feeder I put up last week!

So excited!

And no it isn't one of the monstrous vehicle type hummers - wouldn't want one of those hanging around my back patio (or the front one, or anywhere near me actually). I've been eyeballing the local hummingbirds and wondering if one will come visit if I entice it, and it is and it has - the amount of sugar water in the feeder has gone down over the last day (since I re"filled" it, actually). It had a last sip after sunset last night and before when I was weeding the "garden" it hovered around the feeder and checked me out.

I took a while to decide to feed the beasties - I don't think it is right to feed wild things in general but we don't have hummers at home and this is the only way I'll get to see one relatively close up. I'm told only one will come to the feeder cos the type we have here are territorial. We'll see. I've also got some native seedlings growing, some of which are good for hummer feeding, but they are taking their own sweet time (ie they are only four leave seedlings yet - GROW you little mongrels!)

I have much to show and tell when I finally get pics of it, or edit pics. I've been knitting and crocheting like a mad ting and ripping it out again and starting again. Blah. We hired a car and went for a couple of drives on the weekend - very pretty! The wildflowers around here are going nuts :-)


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's?

G'day all!

Recently I said I have a new obsession. The obsession has died down a little bit now that I have finished the second item (the first one is awaiting more "yarn").

So what is the obsession? Is this an April Fool's joke or the real deal?


What's the big deal about crochet? I am left handed. I knit right handed. I can't crochet right handed though and my left handed crochet did not work cos I wrapped the stitch the wrong way so it would never catch on the hook. Not long ago I grokked that I was doing it wrong and voila!

Thank heavens it is not scrapbooking. I really don't need even more hobby stuff in this place.

My new little bag is from the Happy Hooker, the SNB crochet book. It is made with Caron Simply Soft. I had to buy a whole huge skein of yucky acrylic to finish my Cash Iroha top (cos Noro does like to make singles yarns and they do not hold up well in the seaming process). I used about 5m of acrylic from a 280m skein to finish a top made with wool and silk. Hmmm.... So I had this big ball of stuff and decided to make a bag from it.

(not clickable - no big pic)

I would've finished the bag in two days *if* I had known how to crochet *and* followed the pattern. You may have noticed I am not good at following patterns. Even when I tried desperately to follow the pattern I still ended up with wonky bits but hey it looks a lot better than my first knitting way back in the mists of time. The tension is whacky, something weird happened halfway down the bag, etc, but I am not fussed. It is a BAG. it is going to look wonky when stuff gets put in it. The same stuff will promptly attempt to escape out the holes around the shells, so I will have to line it. That is when things will get really interesting, though a lovely lady in our SnB group is doing a talk on lining bags in a little while so maybe I can learn a thing or two then :-)