Thursday, April 30, 2009

FO - sorta Lenore

G'day all!

In a rush to the wire, I finished my second pair of Lenore yesterday. I am amazed at how quickly I knitted the foot. I turned the heel on the Scary Formula 1 Bus Ride the other day and then zoomed along the foot. Even the grafting of the toe went smoothly - I usually stick the needle in in the wrong direction at least once.

(Doncha love how the foreshortening makes ankles look thick?)

(This one makes my ankles look skinny and my feet quite odd)


Pattern: Lenore
Yarn: umm Hand Artist as I like to call it cos I lost the label and don't know which it is of Fleece Artist or Hand Maiden. The colour is reasonably accurate. I thought the camera would barf out on the red but it didn't.

Of course one of these socks isn't really a Lenore at all but we will forgive it.


In other news, we are about to hit my least favourite time of year. May. I know many people love May (at least in the northern hemisphere) but I don't like it. It is a deathiversary month. Both my parents died in May, one at either end of the month. Plus I seem to have a rampaging case of hormones and am feeling sorry for myself. I really need to find a job or something to fling myself into that takes me out of myself and this place. I am being a complete big girly wuss at present. I spent an hour wrangling with the thing that opens pics into the Gimp automatically this morning, and DH finds the right webpage straight off, then grumps at me strenuously because I made him miss his train (it took him a minute, he had not even eaten breakfast yet and would miss the next train anyway). Even not being able to open a bottle of "nutrient" water so's I have something to drink on my bike ride is resulting in me feeling tearful. (I've sawn the plastic bits apart, I've even drilled into the bottle to release the vacuum and it still won't open! Admittedly I don't have a rubber grippy thing but I should not need to spend 10 minutes trying to open a stupid bottle! I am having to squeeze the drink out of the bottle into a glass, which rather negates the whole portability thing.) I am trying to distract myself with ideas and plans, like ideas for the stuff I scored at the op shop yesterday. Gosh I got some stuff I think is nice! But there is only so far distractions take one when one is doubting one's own worthiness.

This afternoon I am going to take me and the bike up to the rose gardens, mebbe both of them, and also go buy a new monthly ticket for the local PT. I shall take extra batteries for the camera and take many too many pics, then wonder how one earth I shall ever get them all edited so that you can see them too. Plus I need to go to WF and buy a roast for tea. I had best get wriggling!

PS Just got the bottle open but wrenched a finger knuckle in doing so!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hi ho hi ho it's off to school we go

G'day all!

Last Sunday, I took my first ever knitting class.

Yes you heard aright - my first ever knitting class.


Why don't I take classes usually? Well many of them cover things I already know how to do and they cost money too. I am cheap (but not easy!) and have learned to do things by figuring them out from written instructions, pictures or even the odd you tube.

But this class was going to teach me some stuff about sleeves that I could not easily figure out myself.

It was going to show me how to do sleeves from the top down. And I figured that was well worth paying for. I only enrolled on Friday - I figured that since there was one spot left, it was fated that I should do that class.


And I did. And it was good and I learned how to do sleeves from the top down. Lorna Miser has spent a fair whack of time working out how to do the sleeve cap from the top down and should benefit from it, so I am not going to say how we did it!


The weird blue thing shows the sleeve caps and shows one left side that is gappy (above) and the left side that matches its rightside mate (not that I've shown that!) uses a trick to stop it being gappy.


In other news, I took a bus ride today to go get some fixings for some bags I am making or about to make. Sewn bags.

Anyway, I had the same bus driver there and back. Can I just say that I was so scared that I couldn't even squeak a "thank you" when he mercifully opened the back door for me at my stop? I was speechless! He went past every car that he could, he stopped in a hurry, he drove in the left lane not the right one that is close to the side of the road/bus stops, he had to cut cars off to get back to the bus stops (once to go buy the paper from the dispenser on the side of the road). He was going like a steam train. Maybe he thought it was formula 1 not a bus ride. Thankfully the brakes didn't fail. I sat and knitted like a fury and stared at my knitting as much as I could - I just couldn't look (but sometimes I had to). On the way back I chose a seat with a really good handhold in front of it just in case I needed to hang on to something in one of his furious stops.

I wish I had caught the bus that the petite black lady with plaits to her shoulders drives. She was smoo-oo-oooth! No jerks, no braking that practically tipped you into the seat in front or take offs that tried to imitate an F1 Ferrari. I wasn't afraid I was going to die in her bus - I felt more like I was in an oversize limo. But I haven't seen her for ages on the lines I catch.


Has anyone else seen My First Dictionary? It is hilarious and Not Quite Right. I would not recommend it for those who are very serious and liable to get upset by things that are not politically correct or perfectly morally exact.

I want a Yuba Mondo or a Kona Ute, I think. They look like good bikes for doing the shopping - mebbe better than an xtracycle!

Snidknits went to Greece and saw a whole lotta old stuff (and I am not talking about her husband or kids, though the kids found it all a bit old on occasion it seems). I am jealous!

Some industries need to be more than thoroughly spanked.

Aussies (and Kiwis) wonder no longer from whence your favourite foods arise.

Sir Terry Pratchett is using a light helmet to fight his early onset dementia. Weird!

I am making one of these nifty folding grocery bags. Hence the bus trip of terror to get stuff for it. Big shout out to Mrspao for the linky to u-handbag from ages ago. Next up I'll try making a backpack, only prolly not with waterproof stuff cos nothing will tell me if it is vinyl or polyethylene or what that provides the waterproofing. I won't use vinyl - it makes me feel ill!

I think that is your bloomin' lot for the nonce.


Monday, April 27, 2009

What is it Monday?

G'day all!

I've been wondering what would grease the wheels of social intercourse on this blog. Admittedly being on blogger doesn't help because it doesn't give me your email addy = harder to reply to you cos I have to go find your address (and if you don't have a blog and I don't have your email anyway I'll never reply! And you will be sad, or at least think I am rude).

So, without further ado, I give you

What is it Monday?

(You can click through to Flickr if you want to see a bigger version.)


  1. Each week I am going to take a pic, most likely a macro shot, of something.
  2. Email me at natiel-three-one-one at gmail dot com (replace likely numbers and symbols with their keyboard equivalents) with your guess.
  3. Whoever guesses correctly gets a point.
  4. Note that I don't want you to comment with your guess cos then everyone else knows too! Send me an email instead :-)
  5. At some point in the future, I will offer the person with the most points a prize, likely from my Etsy shop (which I can now update with stuff that had been waiting for my work permit to be renewed and is now waiting for me to get off my slack butt and do something!).
  6. If I am feeling generous, there might be spot prizes for guesses that particularly amuse me or just cos. Spot prizes are likely to be beaded stitchmarkers - small, useful and light to post!

So email me with your guesses.

Yesterday I took a class with Lorna Miser on knitting sleeves from the top down. It was very interesting. Again when I get off my slack butt I shall take pics of the oddity we created during the class.


Saturday, April 25, 2009


embroidered card from WWI

Lest we forget.

(More on ANZAC Day in past bloggings.)

Catching up on everything!

G'day all!

Do you ever wonder if you will ever catch up on all the things that need to be done?

This week's theme at Meet Me at Mike's is catching up.

Catching up means different things to different people. I managed to catch up with some friends on Thursday night. One is having chemo and is getting a bit bored every second week (the week she doesn't have chemo, ie when she has a little energy). It was lovely to sit and chat and do some crafting (even if I can't count and stuffed up a very very simple lace pattern - silly me!).

Could this be the start of a square jumper (sweater)?

Another thing I've caught up on is my charity knitting. Yes, the squares for bushfire victims are finally done and sent off! It feels so good to have them gone :-)

(I love how wonky they look. They were tedious but the effect is great and I am now thinking maybe I'll do smaller squares, some missing their middles, for an afghan or throw or lap blanket.)

For the squares, I cast on 99 stitches (for a 10"25cm mitred square) for each of four colours and then joined them using intarsia-type looping the yarn when I changed colours. In the centre of each colour on the right side, I'd do a double decrease (here I used sl1, k2tog, psso but slip 2 together knitwise, k1, pass both slipped stiches over would look funky). At the end of the row I would wrap and turn. Every now and then I would ignore the colour change and just keep on knitting until I hit the next colour. Then I'd intarsia-style colour change to change colours. I just kept going, changing the colours pretty randomly - you'll see them "walking" around the squares. I ran out of one colour near the centre which means one colour did two squares in some places. Then I ran out of another colour, so I was down to two colours. I admit it isn't much of a pattern but if you can knit garter stitch, decrease and change colours, you can make some wonky squares too! And there were only 8 ends to weave in - one for the start and end of each colour.

The ride to the post office that is open on Saturday mornings had a happy side effect. Last year when I had to get my SSN, I rode off through the back streets of Campbell to the local Social Security office. Along the way, I saw a fantastic rose garden. I love roses. You will get lots of rose pictures over the next while most likely cos it seems that roses are hitting their spring peak at the moment. Anyway, I promised I would go back with the camera and take some pics. It only took a year! And I combined trips because the post office that is open on Saturday mornings is only 5 minutes away from it.

(that one is big and will obscure side bar stuff but the little one shows none of the magnificence. Oh and I like the sentiment on the poster.)




Now I wonder if I will ever catch up on all the other things I need to do and want to do, like clean the flat up, play with fusing fabric to make pretties, get to wholefoods to buy the bangers I want to have in tea (and also get more peppermint tea), work out how to display postcards and photos on doors, create window screening that obscures people looking in but still lets in lots of light, get my baby plants to GROW, GROW!, repot the African Violets, edit the remaining 1800 photos from our trip, edit the rest of the ones from January's trip, finish my Lenore (I only have the leg, heel and foot to go! LOL)... I am sure there is plenty of other stuff that I have forgotten.

Oh and I have my new EAD! This means I can update my Etsy shop with all the stuff I have accumulated, once I find all the photos. And I can do some more dyeing with the yarn I have remaining and if it sells, I can think about buying more to dye! Yay!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The blocks, the blocks!

G'day all!

These blocks are *killing* me! I am knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting - I've been knitting them for nearly 5 hours today, haven't even showered yet and its 1:30! I am making progress on them but oh. my. god. it is slow! Agonisingly slow. Plus somehow I've managed to not to the decreases right and have shifted them in two blocks, and on top of that, the blocks should all have odd numbers of stitches (two don't!) and even further, the number of stitches is different in each and every block! I am nearly out of one colour of yarn but I can deal - I have a totally different colour to introduce when I have to. I might do this totally different colour as a square in the middle of the block, just to do something different.

No pics cos I am lazy and also I have to open the door to get good light and I am still in my jammy-jim-jams. OK so not that many people walk past at this time of the day but it will disturb the juncos that have found the mesh bag of bird seed and are merrily partaking with many chirps and twitterings and shrill noises of annoyance. My food!

I think I will fondle the pretty fibre for a while (it's merino and rabbit fur you dirty minded so and sos!), have some lunch, shower and go out for a while, get cosy with my other Lenore sock on the bus or something. I've got to wash the car too. Thank heavens it is a "normal" temp today - 21C. Verra nice!

Given I am now down to 47, 42, 41 and 44 stitches on the blocks, I think I will finish them by tomorrow, just in time to block them and send them off to Oz. Pics then!

In the mean time, enjoy a pic of the other Californian Poppy.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

G'day all!

I had forgotten all about Earth Day being today. Just as well I've been a good girl today!

I did a load of clothes washing in cold water (as always - clothes don't seem to suffer for being washed in cold water whilst hot or even warm water seems to make them fade quicker and/or bleed). I also ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher and as always had the heated dry turned off.

I did do some shopping - I trundled off on my bike fully intending to take pics of wildflowers (native or no) on the bike path. I didn't take a single pic of wildflowers - I was too busy riding :-)

My aim was the Goodwill on Meridian and Hamilton. It has not been a scene of as many happy finds as Savers but where there is life there is hope and I hadn't been in for a month or so. But today it was truly an op shop - I found


One nylon bag of happiness (and a bargain!)

One wool and three cashmere pullovers/cardies. The rusty wool is for fulling.

And the best thing? Half price off all clothes! They were doing a roaring trade.

Plus the bag is huge and zips up into its own little pouch. It has a pocket behind the pouch and also a zippered pocket inside.

I didn't take a single pic of wildflowers but on my ride to WF from the Goodwill, I was tempted by bearded iris - some magnificent specimens out there but this stopped me in my tracks.





I love roses. I love how willing they are and how tough - it takes a lot to kill a rose (as long as it doesn't freeze too hard). I would've knocked on the person's door but their car had a disabled plate on it and I though it might be hard for them to get to the door. Mebbe I should print a couple of photos and stick a little note with it saying how pretty I thought their yard is (there's roses all over the place but I didn't want to put their house in the shot without permission).

Plus look at this tea tree! (Probably the NZ version of Leptospermum scoparium, might also have miniature leaves.) It has been topiaried into a ball. Look at the flowers on it!

Finally I did some more knitting on the squares I promised ages ago for the bushire victims back 'ome.

You would not think that I am almost halfway done with the knitting when you look at the big hole in the centre, but I made up a spreadsheet to work it out. I have another four bumps to go before I am halfway, stitchwise at least.


The pattern is mitred squares all joined together. It gets a bit tricksy to blend the colours. I should write down what I've been doing. The joins are umm average but no worse than sewing them together. The yarns are some Mission Falls 135 and Patons (Oz) Totem. I'm mixing normally plied yarn with a cable or crepe yarn. I had forgotten how much I like working with Totem. It is SQUOOSHY yet somehow crisp. There's a new Totem out which I have not worked with - it is merino. Dunno what the old one was - presumably Merino X Corriedale or something.

I've started uploading pics from our trip onto my Flickr account. Be warned, there are HEAPS! I won't blog them all on my travel blog cos really there are Too Many. I think I have about 150 from the first 1.5 days already. Ack.

What did you do today?

PS Had four white fillings replaced yesterday at the dentist in one hit! Admittedly two were on the one tooth I believe. After drooling in my LYS for a while (air con!) I came home and crunched on a pack of potato chips and DID NOT drool once! Yay me! And I am very happy not to have Bell's Palsy cos it must suck big bikkies - the anaethetic is annoying enough. (Though it might be hard to suck if you have a non-responsive side of your face.) Anyway I don't have to go back for six months! Even bigger YAY!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The cat that came back

G'day all!

Good news!

(Old pic) Apparently Cheshire came home none the worse for wear. Lord knows where she has been or what she's been up to, but it was Easter and maybe she got locked in someplace she wasn't meant to be.

In more good news for those of you more interesting in knitting than rambles, I have finished one Not Lenore sock.

(excuse the hair in the pic - it was the best shot of the sock despite the hair.)

It is Not a Lenore because I knitted it in the wrong direction (toe up). I might knit the next one top down and do the lace pattern properly.

(Ever photographed something thinking it looks fine, only to realise when you are editing pics that there is a lump of really obvious fluff on the item being photographed?)

I had Big Plans today for doing a heap of knitting and sewing, but I just remembered that I have a dental appointment this arvo. That will take a fair chunk out of my day. Of course on the bright side, that means I will be sitting in air conditioned comfort for a while :-) (well apart from someone poking at my teeth.) Yesterday was fairly warm, today is also expected to bring record breaking temps and I will ride my bike to and from the dentist. I'll probably drool all the way home. Mebbe I'll go to the LYS and dribble at them instead - they have air con too. We do have air con here but it isn't very effective. A fan does almost as well with a lot less power usage and we are all about lowering our carbon output here (says she who drove 2100 miles last week in a car that only gets 30mpg).


Monday, April 20, 2009


G'day all!

One of the blogs that I came across after the Black Saturday fires back home is Meet Me at Mike's. Such a creative place! Pip has set up a weekly theme for blog posting and gosh I just have to play along. This week's theme is:


I have pretty much always been a collector. I used to have collections of the tickets from every movie I had ever seen. I took over my brother's stamp collection when he moved out and expanded it four fold (one of my nephews has it now). Books - I love books. Old ID and auto teller cards. Stuff. I've moved on from most of these things now. Mostly.

These days I collect yarn (no kidding!!), fleece (I love trying out new types of fleece!), material.... I have a fair range of seed beads and bits and bobs for making jewellery and stitch markers with. I have my button jar (and I actually used some buttons out of it the other day!!!). I still have my books and (knitting) mags. There's a row of African Violets and other gesneriads sitting by the window along with 9 bottles with leaves and baby plantlets in them. Do 20,000-odd digital pics count as a collection?

My most recent obsession is collecting cashmere pullovers to rip out and repurpose.

If you saw how many postcards I bought whilst we were away, you would wonder if I like collecting them too. Oh and the magnets on the fridge. They are mostly of places we've been. (My favourite magnet, however, is one that shows the old Pope lying in state at his funeral with a whole heap of VIPs standing behind him. Dubya is on the end with a thought bubble, "What happened to Santa?" It's a laugh a minute around here!)

Why is it that you might say that I have a collection of sock yarn (enough for roughly 90 socks) yet I don't have a collection of hand knitted socks even though I have enough socks to wear for about two weeks without washing any? Is it because collections are not things that are used? Do collections have *potential* uses? Or are collections just pretty?

I am a terrible hoarder. I am a magpie too - I love bright shiny things. I used to pick up bits of tat (in the English form - bits of rubbish) and dustables (as my aunt-in-law calls them). It is something I became very aware of after having to move 7 times in the last 3.5 years. I try not to buy useless things unless I really really really want them days or weeks after seeing them for the first time. (Except for postcards and magnets cos I'll not get another chance to buy them and they make up for my pics being crap/weather being bad/etc.)

But I still collect Stuff.

I often wonder why I am such a magpie. My parents were children of the Depression and WWII (dad would've been 91 this year!!). They were muchly into waste not, want not. We were not very rich and we didn't have lots and lots of stuff, but had enough to surprise us kids when we had to clean the house out (the classic example being the biscuit tin with all the receipts from a trip to Sydney in the early 60s). Mum used to give me dolls for my birthday and Christmas - she only had one doll and I had to get all the dolls she misssed out on. I have a fantastic collection of Barbies from the late 70s to 1990 still lurking at home. I don't want them, I just have them. I'd quite happily sell them to a collector of such things.

Part of the reason why I have so much Stuff is I abominate throwing out useful Stuff - I send things to the op shop (thrift store) if it could be useful to others but isn't what I want or need - but things like packaging and whathaveyou that could be reused but is hard to store in a one bedroom apartment, stuff like that I get twitchy about throwing out. It isn't as if I can't buy new Stuff, I just don't want to waste Stuff.

I recently read a book about dealing with Stuff. My greatest problem with my Stuff is that I like it. I like having Lots of Stuff. I'll never be one of those really organised people with all their Stuff neatly put away, out of sight. I accumulate Stuff and I like Stuff. (So does DH, alas.) The book said your Stuff is not a problem unless *you* feel it is a problem. Until someone knocks on the door, I am quite happy with my stuff.

Now I feel like going and playing in one of my collections :-) Anyone got any ideas for how to display postcards? I like to stick them on doors but the paint here is as cheap as cheap can be and I think I'll pull the paint off with the utac/sticky dots. I am thinking of getting some EVA (vinyl substitute, eg shower curtain) and turning it into something that hangs over the door.


PS I forgot the plant collection. We *love* plants.
PPS. Just finished a sock. Only one to go for a pair!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The tour of rocks

G'day all!

We are back from our trip and recovering from driving from U-tah! in two days via a rather circuitous route. There are some mountain ranges that I would like to have a few words with.... We drove over 2000 miles in a week. Doesn't sound like much but it sure cut into my knitting time cos I drove. All. The. Way.

So, I got hardly any knitting done - half a sock and the first (ie easy) 25 rows of a top down raglan cardi were my knitting triumphs. I managed to read most of one small book. I read through a book on the southwestern states of the US. We saw gobsmacking scenery. DH and I took over 2500 digipics - that'll take a while to edit out the good ones, which will mostly appear on my travel blog.

Now I am back into shopping at the farmers' market, cooking, cleaning, clearing the car out, doing the clothes washing, all that sort of boring stuff. And dying of heat exhaustion.

We went from this:

(Wednesday, Grand Canyon, embiggen the pics to see more detail and no I have not put a texture on them!)

to this:
Camden at Winchester, Campbell, California (PWS)
Updated: 1 sec ago
Partly Cloudy
90.3 °F
Partly Cloudy
Humidity: 15%

For those of us who have left the imperial age behind, that would be 33. Yep, from 33F to 33C in just a few days. And it is forecast to hit 38 tomorrow! It is only APRIL guys! The record for April in SJ is 90F. Oh dear.... and we just used up roughly 70 US gallons of petrol. Ah well, I'll be back on my bike this week.

I've added a pic from each day to my flickr account and you get to see them right here!

Elephant seals - females and juveniles on the beach, moulting. They moult off their epidermis along with the fur - no wonder they have to do that on land!

The outdoors pool at Hearst Castle. Can you believe that I did not get one good shot of the castle itself? Very difficult lighting - backlighting on it.

Some people love this place but we found Vegas waaaay too much for us!

Occasionally the clouds almost parted and let us see the Grand Canyon. The next day we visited Zion National Park, which we found much more exciting.

We saw a LOT of views like this as we drove. I didn't realise that the parts of Nevada, Arizona and Utah (and a little of California) are all sandstone/limestone/siltstone escarpments, not just deserts. This pic is just inside the Utah border - can you believe that there is a street view on Google maps for this road?

We could well call this a trip of ups and downs - sea level to 8000-odd feet and back again, sometimes on the one day! Death Valley was not as blasted as I expected, but it is spring and it must've gotten a little rain.

June Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada. OMG, how pretty! I loved this area even though it was too early for wildflowers.

And I got back to SJ 15 minutes before Cookie A's booksigning finished. *phew* I was SO over driving by then - we had had a 12 hour day on Friday and 9 hours on Saturday.

Sunday? Collapse time, in between doing necessary stuff.

Well that is your bloomin' lot!

Next time, if you are lucky, I'll put some knitting content and pics up 8-)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

thank heavens for knitted things!

G'day all!

We are still on our holiday. Currently we are in Arizona, almost Utah really. We've seen the Big Sur in daylight, two trains on the Tehachapi Loop, Vegas, Hoover Dam, all sorts of weird and wonderful rock formations.... Today we saw the Grand Canyon, well bits of it, in between snow flurries, showers and outright short-lived blizzards. Fantastic, if a little cold. When we left the Grand Canyon and dropped some elevation, the sky cleared and we had half an hour of sun before it set! Weather here is bizarre.

Tomorrow we look at Lake Powell, mebbe Bryce Canyon, Zion and travel to Cedar City. Thence homewards via Death Valley. I have to be home by Saturday arvo for Cookie A's booklaunch!

Would show off pics but the wireless at our cheap motel is a bit flakey. See you


Saturday, April 11, 2009

FO - red cashmere fingerless mitts

G'day all!

Less grumpy today but no less hungry!

Yesterday I finished off my sister's cashmere mitts and sent them off in the mail. I hope she likes them.


Pattern - my own. After making quite a number of afterthought fingerless mitts three Christmases ago, I worked out how to make mitts that fit better. My body doesn't like tight stuff and groans a lot if squished, so I worked out a thumb gusset that lets my hand move better. This pair have 1X1 rib with cable crosses that are mirrored on the left and right mitts. Which is left and which is right is up to the wearer to decide.

Size - ladies 20cm/8" around the palm, not including thumb. Snug fit.

(There are two of them!)

Yarn - recycled cashmere taken from laceweight jumpers and plied up to be about a DK weight.

Needles - 3.75mm.


I even made tips so that if my sister wants to make them warmer, she can sew the tips on to the back of the mitts and flip them over her finger tips if she wants.


If I had a little more time today I would write up the pattern - I actually wrote it down! A miracle! Oh, except for the tips. Forgot to write down how many stitches. Ooops!

I used a tubular edge that was quite nifty. Most tubular edges use waste yarn but this one uses the same yarn as the main body yarn. (This still means you end up with some unwanted yarn.)

Here's the edge before the waste yarn is picked out. See how it seems to have a straight line?

And after - now the edge is rounded.
(hmm, not sure how I got the black frame on that one - usually I have to ask but this time I just reversed the foreground and background to get white drawn lines... interesting!)

This pic I hope shows the different between the edges - the left is not yet unpicked and the right is unpicked.

Heh. Just saw the video on this site. Would you help a little lost robot find its way to the opposite corner of a park?

DH and I are going away for a few days with a workmate. We are going for a drive inland, after going down the coast road a ways. We hope that Hearst Castle is open this time cos we will go there too. We expect to be back by Saturday - I want to go to Cookie A's book launch at Bobbin's Nest. If you are very unlucky I might be able to blog on the road! (The laptop's wireless card is cantankerous and doesn't like some wireless setups.)


Friday, April 10, 2009

OT - Hey Wholefoods! Trader Joe's too!

Hey Wholefoods! Yes you! I am talking to you.

Over the last most of two years that we have been in the USA, you have provided the mainstay of my gluten-free, dairy-free existence.

But recently you have REALLY dropped the ball. For example, your brand of organic, gluten free chips have been repackaged and are no longer gluten free. Your brands of various things used to state what allergens were packaged in the same factories. You no longer supply that information. You don't even say what allergens are in various of the things. You've stopped carrying a number of GF/DF munchy bars but you are carrying even more things like Odwalla bars, which are not gluten free and can be bought pretty much anywhere. I just want a nut-based bar with no fruit and I cannot buy them any longer.

I am getting mighty peeved!

Unfortunately, the gluten-free world here in the USA is crap. Certainly where I live in San Jose. As far as I can tell, there is not even a chapter of the Coeliac (celiac) society here. Yes I could go to Trader Joe's but Trader Joe's? You are crap too! You say "no gluten ingredients" which is a WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT to gluten free! Cross contaminants are not ingredients and cross contaminants can make me sick!

So I am generally peeved with everything foodwise. I am being forced into eating only healthy stuff and how am I supposed to do that when I am on the road and cannot cook meals? I can't just pop into a bakery and buy something. Here, have the green salad, we'll pick the croutons and grated cheese out for you!

Yes I can buy stuff online but you know how much it costs to ship it? Holy cow! I bought $8 of breakfast cereal online and it cost $11 to ship it! I dunno about you but I can't afford to pay four times what someone eating wheat can afford to pay for breakfast. Having a GF/DF diet is not cheap in the first place and when you have to pay for shipping on top of that....

Whilst I am on the rant, I am also very disappointed at the number of places that put "yeast extract" into their "MSG-free" food. Yeast extract and hydrolyzed (x) protein contain containfree glutamic acid.

*rant over* (I think)

Thursday, April 09, 2009


G'day all!

I had quite a pleasant day today, making stuff, finishing a couple of things (no pics cos it has been miserable and drizzly today, just after I had decided we would have no more rain this season), writing the patterns down before I forget them, going out to take Nathan a white shirt as he is singing with the church choir now (I got home so late that to get there I'd have to not cook dinner and also drive to the church), dropping into a LYS (well not *very* local but busable), waiting for THIRTY-FIVE minutes for a bus when they run every 15 minutes (I rang the transit agency and they said there isn't a problem which is nice but what happened to the bus that didn't run???) - if I had known that it would be that long between buses, I would've gone into the sewing machine shop to see if they have a darning foot suitable for my machine. I also would've walked the mile and a bit to Savers to do a bit of op shopping.

Anyway, I finally got home and checked my email.

One of our cats, Cheshire, is missing. She didn't come home for dinner last night and hasn't been seen today. I do hope our house-sitters find her safe and well, or at least find her in whatever condition. Her unsister, Nutmeg, is missing her - they've been together for four years now (!!!) and though they, like real sisters, don't always get on, they are often seen snuggling up together. They are allowed out during the day and kept in at night. When we first got them, Cheshire was a real escape artist - they were supposed to stay in for two weeks to learn about our place and three days of captivity had Cheshire busting a gut to get outside. So we let them out. Our street is fairly quiet (though being 500m long and straight and wide, tends to attract racers particularly at night).

Well it has rather put my day into a spin! Panic! But no point panicking cos all I can do is wait for an email or a call. I called home and talked to P and said if she hasn't shown up tomorrow, call the pound. The vets and pound are not open today cos it is Good Friday there and that is observed as a holiday in Australia (unlike the USA which has substantial Christian lobby groups, even though it technically is a secular place). So like Mrspao, whose Perdita is missing, I wait and hope Nathan's cat comes home.

I would like to show you pics of the stuff I've been making but really this weather is abominable! It isn't as if we have had a decent bit of rain either, it's just been gray and nasty. I've been making stuff for a friend who is having chemo. I made a cute cap over the last few days though I think it might not be her colours (but if it isn't, someone else will like it and I now know how to make another). I've also made her a couple of lightweight shopping bags that I think are pretty funky indeed! And the handwarmers are done but I want pics of them before sending them off. Next I have to make a baggie for an upcoming birthday and finish the easter sock I've been working on (I managed to get half the leg done on the buses and waiting for buses this afternoon and y'know what? I was not following the pattern properly - some of the lace is worked on every round and I was doing it every two rounds. Gosh it looked wrong - cos it was! So I ripped it back 18 rounds. Oops! Again no pic cos I was on the bus plus it was spitting every time I got off the bus).


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Almost a meme but not quite

G'day all!

I've been doing a lot of ravelling recently. Probably too much. Anyway, in the Yarnthropology group we were asked:
Tell us your story of how you learned to knit/crochet/spin?
Was it part of your culture/history?
How will you pass along your knowledge?
Why do you do what you do?
What would you like to see as the future of your craft?

Given it is an older topic and possibly of interest to my readers, all half dozen of you ;-), I thought I would write up a reply here rather than on Ravelry.

Tell us your story of how you learned to knit/crochet/spin?

I learned to knit when I was mebbe 10. I'm not too sure when, but I know I had knitted myself a jumper (sweater) by the time I was 11 or so. Mum taught me, Western style. I learned how to do that slow way - stick the needle into the stitch, wrap the yarn by taking your hand off the needle, pull the new stitch through. I think Mum was surprised by me being able to pick it up at all - I was a very unco child and lefthanded to boot. My first jumper was in Cleckheaton Country, then a thick and thin 12 ply (chunky) yarn, in white and blue. All wool I believe. Mum chose the yarn cos it would hide the wonky tension. It had cables. Nothing like starting with something easy! I wore it so much that the elbows wore out and then I grew too big for it. I presume it went to the big rubbish bin in the sky.

I later taught myself the "lever" technique, copying Mum's way of knitting. It was MUCH faster and my tension was better after I worked out the best way for me to tension yarn (wrapped around my right pinky finger). I think I just copycatted what Mum did. I'll have to look and see how my sisters knit cos both of them can. By the time I was in my late teens, I was experimenting with knitting backwards, knitting one row right handed and one left handed (no purling, not that purling was an issue to me anyway) but came back to doing things "normally." I then knitted some pretty amazing 80s knits and one early 90s one, if I say so myself.

Crocheting never caught on with me. Mum could only show me how to do it right handed and I just did not grok it. Anyway, my next up sister was the crocheter. It was only last year that I worked out why I couldn't figure out how to crochet. I was wrapping the yarn around the hook in the wrong direction for a leftie. So now I can crochet, and I basically taught myself out of the Happy Hooker.

Spinning was something I picked up nearly 5 (!!) years ago. I bought a spindle to ply up some machine knitting yarn I had bought. Then I tried a little spinning of top by copying pics of stuff online and in books. Oh dear! Another obsession was born. Thanks to Catherine, you know who you are, for showing me how I could draft finer yarn. I will not say I am the best spinner out there by any means but what I spin is certainly usable and that is what really counts in my book.

Was it part of your culture/history?

Mum always was crafty - she knitted, sewed, embroidered, crocheted, made heaps of stuff for the school fete, made costumes for me (and my sisters).... I wish I had the pic of me in my variegated purple Villawool handknitted by Mum jumper and purple cords standing in the middle of the wisteria (I can still remember insisting on putting those clothes on and having a photo taken cos the wisteria was so pretty!). Mum got the craft gene off her Aunty May (or should it be Mae?). Granma had no craft gene at all it seems. Mum made a lot of her stuff and nearly all her dresses were handmade. Only when my brother and sisters got married did she get a new dress. She hadn't bought dresses for herself in years. For years after she died, I'd see material and think Mum would've liked that, oh dang, no point buying it for her. The Old Man was also crafty - he was a panel beater, a craftsman, and also liked woodworking. I have no idea what his parents were like - they died before he met Mum. I also don't know if his brothers and sisters were crafty cos most of them pegged it before I noticed. One of my sisters reports that one of my aunts used to knit but Mum had to help her a lot. One family of cousins are crafty. What it boils down to is in my family at least, it was considered normal to be making stuff and to watch the telly and knit or sew at the same time.

How will you pass along your knowledge?
Oh gosh, I can only guess through this blog. I help people out at the LYS but I am an abominable teacher. I think I am starting with the basics but apparently I just confuse people. Pity cos I like passing along stuff that I know. Knowledge is power and I am happy to share what I know even if it is to my detriment.

Why do you do what you do?
Another interesting question. I tend to fidget a lot if I don't have something crafty to do. I was not allowed to knit or doodle or whatever in meetings and whathaveyou (I usually volunteered to take minutes as a result) so if I was not writing notes I'd be playing with my security pass, twirling round and round and round the leather string I had put it on (the metal one annoyed me with its noise). Idle hands and all that. Knitting keeps the fidget at bay. It also seems to help me be more social (or sociable). I'm actually pretty shy and a natural introvert, so knitting is a good way to ease my way into something. (People at my LYS would laugh at this but I'm ok with the group at the table so I can be noisy and outgoing, but dump me in a group of strangers and I'll be hiding in the corner.)

Playing with fibre, whether knitting, spinning, dyeing or felting, satisfies some need in me to make stuff. I love colour and playing with colour. I love watching colours change in yarn, whether it be whilst I am spinning, dyeing it or knitting it. It is very tactile, touching stuff, making things of beauty or at the very least usefulness. Then there is the "peer pressure" side of it too, such as when everyone is making a Feb Lady Sweater (which is on my queue and which I anticipate making out of my own handdyed handspun yarn, so I had better get a wriggle on with that!). I like to pretend that I don't want compliments or attention for what I've knitted but really, I love it when people say that looks pretty or great on you, etc etc.

I think it comes down to being happiest/calmest/most content when I am making/creating. Some people need to organise, some people need to be boss, some people need to be followers, I need to make. Making and being out in nature are probably my two greatest joys.

What would you like to see as the future of your craft?

Argh, stop asking me tough questions! I would like to think that the arts of knitting and spinning (and crocheting) won't die like it nearly did in the 90s. I think there is enough info out there on the web and in books, now, that it would be hard for it to become irrelevant and unnoticed. There are so many people with so much knowledge that they are sharing - the way knitting has changed in the last 10 years is amazing. This is not your nanna's knitting at all! Where will it go? Well people are pushing the boundaries every day. Ravelry is a tremendous resource. The various crafting mags have online presences that help disseminate info and love of craft. It would be great if more blokes got into it but it has to be attractive to them. How it can become so I don't know but cultural stuff may play a role - it's not "masculine" to like "women's work" such as knitting and needlework but blokes can be just as good as women can.

In other news, my sister's fingerless mitts are nearly done. I have one thumb and the ends to do. Unlike in this pic.

Because I am juvenile

And I bought a very amusingly shaped butternut pumpkin (squash to Americans). Which I promptly stuck a fingerless mitt onto. Not often you get to see an amusingly shaped pumpkin wearing cashmere!


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April progress

G'day all!

Last night near sunset I had a sudden madness - I must take pics of my WIPs!

Only I forgot one.

Anyway, here are some not so good (slightly blurry and wonky colour due to low light) pics of my current WIPs (except for one that fell down the side of the chair - out of sight, out of mind!).


The second fingerless mitt almost looks like this first one now. I had forgotten how quick these are to knit up. I just need to do the thumb on the first one and weave in the ends and then do most of the second one. A quick block and then they go off to my sister. I used this cast on (fiddly at first but then QUICK!) and some recycled cashmere I plied up. The colour is a bit wonky even after playing with it. The pattern is one I made up after having made a few Dashings and mucked around with fingerless mitts. It even has a gusset!

I had this vision of making a sock with a leaf pattern and a flower at the top. The leaf and flower are on the foot, then a leaf pattern will wrap around the leg. The yarn is the Lisa Souza in Spumoni, or as I prefer to call it Tutti Frutti or even multicoloured Fruit Tingle. Getting the colour right on it is amazingly hard - it is light yarn with lots of pastel tints.


It has a short row heel. Some people get fussed by the little holes in short row heels but not me! The pics show each side - they look different but that also doesn't fuss me cos not too many people crawl to me and want to see my socks up close, especially if I am wearing them! I might do the other sock with a heel flap. We'll see.



My toe up Lenores, well the toe of one. I am starting the increases for the gusset. My plan is to make the sock look as much as possible as a top down one. I have one to compare it with. Oh except I changed the double decrease to be a slip two together knitwise, k1, lift both slipped stitches over. I like the look of it better - it seems neater. Ah well, can't have everything. It won't look exactly the same.

I also saw this weird cloud yesterday. We get lots of contrails here but this one reminded me of a vengeful angel. What do you see?

Recently we've watched a few more brainless fluff vids - excellent knitting and spinning fodder. They helped me spin up a bobbin of singles that are destined to be two plied into laceweight. Superman Returns (holy dooly, Brandon Routh is a bit of alright! He's more metrosexual than Christopher Reeve was but I wouldn't say no! Nathan is now jealous and thinking he should go to the gym ;-) and the second Fantastic Four movie. I have no idea what the old Superman writers would think of Superman having a child out of wedlock - shocking! We've also been watching an old favourite, "Greatest American Hero." I loved it when I was 14 or so and it is hokey now but still amusing and not as cringeworthy as another favourite from then - Star Trek. Though I still adore Spock and am contemplating tracking down a con that he, oops Leonard Nimoy, is appearing at.