Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The other pleasant surprise in the post box was Interweave Knits Winter 2006 - only a few months late. As it is already in the local newsagents I had browsed as much of the contents as I could get away with. I like the Nantucket Jacket on the cover and the Refined Raglan. I've kept the mailing label so I know all my subscriber details in case/when the late delivery issue happens again. Why it had to go via an Auckland Post Centre is beyond me.
The other goodies in the picture are the result of receiving Gift Vouchers for a present and waiting for the post Christmas Sales to start. I didn't join the Boxing Day mad throng of "aggressive shoppers" who had to be restrained by Police but went today at a more leisurely pace. Bondi Westfield was the Mall of choice as it is one of the newest in the city. It has designer Lounge Chairs tastefully arranged on lush carpets and wide open walkways. Despite this it also has rude and pushy customers with attitude that no amount of bling or haute couture can improve.
The result of our 'big sale day out' was;
a copy of "The Dangerous Book for Boys", half price at Borders;
a copy of Mary Thomas's Knitting Book, 20% reduced by Borders email voucher;
a Caribee Download Backpack with heaps of pockets and compartments eminently suitable for train knitting, podcast listening and knitting magazine reading, free, courtesy of Gift Vouchers;
and four new Bras! (they're in the tote bag if you're looking) I concur with M-H's remark about the redundancy of the little bows on the front of Bras - are they like the appendix? Once functional but now shrunk and atrophied through disuse?
After all this gross consumerism we retired to Sushi Train for lunch followed by a session of Happy Feet at the stylish and comfortable Cinema at the aforementioned Mall. Liked the movie a lot - the CGI was awesome and it was good to hear all the Australian voices (including Steve Irwin!)
It was a quantum improvement on Barnyard a "hermaphroditic intestinal disorder they call a movie" which has Bulls waltzing around with Udders!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Christmas has been very pleasant so far - cool weather, no bushfires, city dramas or other stress outs. The afternoon was spent at McMahons lookout, walking through bush bursting with green growth after three days of rain. The irony is that the lake in the picture is Warragamba Dam, the main source of water for Sydney. This reservoir for over 3 million people is only 36.7% full and we still use drinking water to flush our toilets!
The bush walk was a lovely way to spend Christmas Day though - after convincing the Young Dragon his new PS2 and Eyetoy would still be there when we came back.
Krista is finished - I panicked a little on the last sleeve and bought two extra balls of Pakucho Cotton when I could have scraped through with the seven I started with if I had unraveled the swatch. I really like this yarn - it has a lovely loft to it and when I've finally blocked the full garment it will look tres chic. Nice pattern and nice yarn - a great combination. I notice that Janette also has good things to say about this cotton - though her stitch definition looks a lot better than mine!
Again, I'm hardly drawing breath before the next project has been started. The Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton couldn't make gauge for Krista so instead I have started 'Midnight Butterfly Garden' from INKnitters Fall 2006. In the magazine the rainbow colours of the recommended Butterfly Cotton obscure the delicate lace and cable pattern but under all the business there is a classic cotton top.
I'm getting a lot of wear from my green Picolvoli as well as some nice comments so I'm itching to get another started . I would love to do it in Debbie Bliss Cathay but since this lovely yarn is discontinued (grrr) I have the Steel Classic Elite Patina standing by.
We're off to Mudgee and Dubbo for birthday celebrations over the next week so I'm hoping to get some intensive knitting in the car done as well. There may be a few distracions in Dubbo as we are staying in the Zoo grounds but I'm sure a few twilight Lion calls or Leopard rumbles won't put me off my stitch.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Many, many, years ago when I was younger and played a bit faster, Baron's was one of the places I and a few other workmates would find our way to after finishing the Opera Change-Over shift.
In the wee small hours of the morning we'd have Irish Coffee in the big armchairs and play backgammon. It was in the heart of a pretty sleazy part of town surrounded by the sex clubs and strip joint of the Cross. In those days I didn't think about the things that would now make me anxious - the Biker groups parked outside the Woolworths store, the 'dirty deals done dirt cheap' in the alleyways, we had the invulnerability and protection of naive youth.
In small crowded clubs like the Manzil Room and the Kardroma we watched and listened to groups like Ed Keuper and the Saints, Nick Cave, and the Divinyls. Most of the places that entertained us during those days of working and playing hard are now gone, transformed to souless apartments.
Vale Barons - I can't say I miss you but Sydney is not better off for your passing.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The basic rule is "We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions..." and it is these exceptions that prove the rule.
"Rule 2.a. Sock yarn does not count" does not apply to me as I am not a Sock Knitter so I have taken the liberty of amending it to;
"Purchases made from Blue Mountain Knitter's Guild Retail Guests are exempt because as the Convener I must do everything to make our Guests welcome."
The Wool Inn, Belisa Cashmere, Virginia Farm and R & E Reynolds are all scheduled to visit us next year so I will try and be hospitable.
Now, if one is going to shop locally it is always nice to be able to see what is on offer so I am also attempting to apply Mehitabel's "12 steps of Yarn Management" (slightly amended);
1. Assess and organise
2. Share The Wealth.
3. Assign. Have the pattern and its source stored together with the yarn.
4. UFO Patrol and WIP roundup. - WIPs get whipped into shape. UFOs get judgment: they are either become FOs or they return to their roots, ie yarn balls
5. Periodic Evaluations. How well is this working??
6. Pattern round up and organisation. All those lovely designs printed off the Internet, put them to work.
7. Books books books. Lots of knitting books, weed out the ones that aren't essential, make working copies of some patterns so they're handy for assigning to yarn.
8. Gift and charity knitting.
9. Knit from stash exclusively
12. Re-evaluate. Frequently.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I wish I could rid myself of this underlying feeling of anxiety and restlessness. Even knitting doesn't calm me down - and that's saying something. It's probably seasonal.
This is a time of year when a lot of social guilts and worries come out of the woodwork. It seemed to start a lot earlier this time - along with the commercial pressures - have you bought your family/friend/in-law/outlaw their presents/cards/ little thoughtful gift yet - there are the community expectations. Have you attended or supported the school carols, end-of year-performance, local "insert name here" charity do?
I'm pretty good at keeping track of all these obligations and actually fulfilling a lot of them. What I am not good at is the social chit-chat and interaction that is expected. I always feel I've missed greeting someone or asking the right question about members of their family or recent events or I've said something inappropriate. I often suffer from the post what-did-I say-last-night without the influence of alcohol.
Names - don't get me started on names. I was pleased to hear that a condition actually exists in which humans do not recognise faces - Prosopagnosia.
I think I have that. Unless an individual has an outstanding or quirky feature about them their name disappears as soon as it is uttered. I am going to admit that I used to get Emma and Lara mixed up because they are both females with dark hair that knit. So this is why I greet people without mentioning names or resort to 'how are you Maaate'. I try not to get into situations where I have to introduce one person to another because I inevitably forget both names - even close relatives.
I am an innate organiser with an inherent anxiety about social interaction. If I was a hermit there would be no problem but I live in a small community and am involved with a number of groups; school, knitting, gardening and otherwise. Is it any wonder that this time of year isn't my favourite?
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The new version Of Pride and Prejudice didn't quite make it for me - a bit too flighty and Byronesque for my liking. I kept wishing that either Eliza would tidy up her hair or stick a bonnet on, as all right and proper young ladies would do in those days. As for Darcy - well, what hasn't been said about Darcy. In this version he was very romantic, almost puppy dog, - walking out of the early morning mist with a orchestral swell of music behind him to sweep the recalcitrant maiden into his arms.
In contrast I love the BBC version of Persuasion - neither of the main actors have Hollywood looks but they have such a strong sense of character that they really do Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot justice. The sense of propriety is so strong it's almost stifling - as it probably was.
I also finally got to see the latest version of Mansfield Park - not my favourite Austen novel I'm afraid. The character of Fanny Price is too annoying - and as for that wuss Edmund Bertram - you'd never see him half naked after a swim in the lake, or walking out of the mist to claim his love.
While all this Corset and Bonnet drama was going on I was making good progress on Krista. Because the front is such a feature I redid it at least three times to get the spacing of the lace stitches right - I'm still not completely satisfied with it. The cast off doesn't have the same ripple effect that the cast-on hem does but I don't want it so loose that it will flop. I'm onto the sleeves but the front may get ripped again. The Pakucho cotton is holding up despite all the frogging but it does make the stitch definition a little less crisp. The fingers are itching to start another Picovoli with the Classic Elite silk/cotton so maybe I better go look up some more bodice-ripping dramas to finish this off.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"MORE than 70 years ago this forest inspired the birth of the modern Australian conservation movement"
The ecosystem of this whole area is so amazing - its interdependence on the cycle of burning and regrowth and the critical balance of the fire's intensity and frequency.As can be seen by the 'before' shot there isn't much left of the groves of ferns and grasses that make this place so distinctive but it has been burned before and hopefully it will recover.
Hindsight can be scary sometimes - it is a bit worrying to also read:
"Evidence emerged that escaped backburns and spot fires meant the fires linked up and were made more dangerous to property and heritage assets - including the Blue Gum Forest. One manager said the townships of Hazelbrook, Woodford and Linden were a "bee's dick" away from being burnt. Another described it as "our scariest moment".
To those who may be unaware of this term "bee's dick" it means it was very, very, close.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Thanks to a bit of Ring surfing I came across a NZ blog (forgotten the name but thanks for the tip) reference to the Seattle based Little Knits and the sale they were having. Say no more!
This the first batch - 6 balls of Pewter Classic Elite Patina, destined for another Picovoli and 3 skeins of Classic Elite Provence that I hope will be enough for the Zephyr Style - Green Gable pattern I picked up from Purlyarns. (after the sale had finished though - Doh)
As well as both being cotton these patterns are also both knit in the round, from the top down. When you're on a winning technique....
I also have another order with Little Knits but as it's wool I'm not going to talk about it other than to say it has a bit to do with this, and that it includes a very nice Lantern Moon Diamond Tote as my Christmas present.
Friday, December 08, 2006
(hint: in the right of the box just above the double bass)
I'm afraid the only role I had in the performance of this masterpiece was to focus a light on the soloists downstage and then stand by (knitting) in case I was required there or for any of the other 4 theatres that were operating at the same time.
Softly humming "We like Sheep......"
The joy of Duty Shifts.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The Goldfish was a bit upsetting as I had been attempting to bring it back from the brink the minute I saw its little fin droop and the telltale spot of finrot on its tail. Clean, conditioned water in a separate tank with fish medicine; worked one week then sick again the next and down the slippery slope.
I'm not feeling very successful in the animal husbandry line as another animal resident seems to be poorly. Rattus Dooby seems to have developed a tumour. (Rattus Scooby expired after last year's 40 degree heat) Looks like I'll be taking said rat to the vet soon and sadly he might not be coming back. Aged about 3.5 yrs - I wonder if that's a good rat life?
On the upside here is a minor success story for which I have no responsibility - two little silk moths busy doing what boy and girl moths do; making more little silkworms to eat mulberry leaves to make silk cocoons to make more little silk moths.........
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
- mention it on their blog,
- link to his blog,
- then ping Techorati. (Don't know what that means but I'm about to find out).
My usual morning coffee and paper was followed by a visit to the post box where I was pleased to find a parcel from Knittatpug. It contained her homemade soap composed of emu , olive, coconut, grapeseed, and avocado oil.
Available at her Etsy shop it is a lovely, pure soap with a rich lather, no overpowering perfume and a non-greasy texture.
Katie says "It is fine for the most sensitive skins - your face, your hands, your baby. In the eczema epidemic that is raging among children in Sydney, parents say this soap is not only safe, it may be helpful."
She still has several left so pay her shop a visit before I go back and buy some more.
On the knitting front good progress has been made on Krista. This is the result after 2 balls with much tooing and froing as I find missed yarn overs in the faggoting because I've been distracted by Aeon Flux or The Big O.
I'm getting more proficient at dropping back to the extra or omitted YO and fixing it but the Pakucho Cotton is not very forgiving. It showcases all those loose stitches that result from such distractions. I'm hoping it will come out in the wash.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I thought I was just in to prep the bigger-than-Ben-Hur Australian Idol scream feast but got a bit of a shock to find I was operating a full SSO Rachmaninov performance conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy!
Another case of me being on the ball - not. I must say it was a stunning performance even to such a Philistine as myself, the piano concerto was exceptional and the choral piece was awesome. Bigpond supposedly webcast it but I can't get the link to work-I'm not sure if it was just a one-off live stream.
After this pleasant bit of entertainment - with knitting of course - I then had a few hours of Idol frenzy as the rigging crew swarmed over the stage with road cases full of chain motors, hardware and lengths of truss. Even though I was pushing a few 'meat racks' full of Par Cans myself and carrying bits of rigging equipment for the one Audience Bar the SOH crew was responsible for (don't know why the strange demarcation) I felt such a girly wuss around the serious faced roadies with attitude - and that's just the women. I suppose you've got to walk the walk and have a bit of 'tude to make it in the Crewing industry.
The images show the SOH forecourt at 1230 am - before the screaming fans descended to see their Idol wannabe win or lose. It was a very peaceful sight (and site) with lots of interesting shadows and colours and a nice cool breeze off the harbour.
I think I'm a bit like Sir Humphrey from Yes Minister who liked his hospitals without patients - I like my Theatres without punters.
Friday, November 24, 2006
The Grose Valley is still steadily burning and next week the forecast is for more hot nor'westerlies but today it's wet and I'm happy.
Back to our usual programme - I am impatiently awaiting the arrival in the mail of my 2 knitting magazines, IK and Vogue Knitting. The annoyance is caused by seeing Vogue magazine at the last Guild meeting where the owner said she had bought it from her local Newsagency. I subscribe to these magazines so I expect to get them before they turn up in the shop. I get small comfort by the fact that I'm not the only person watching the mailbox but I don't think I'll be replying to Vogue's entreaties to resubscribe.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
This is a 'spot' fire 5km north of the town.
There is another one like it further east but thankfully they seem to be both under control thanks to the 'firies' - the hard working volunteers of the Rural Fire Service, and the many water helicopters that are buzzing overhead with their buckets.
They fill up from Woodford Lake then strategically dump their load on the fire front.
They are only looking to contain the path of the blaze away from populated areas because the main fire front is too difficult to get to .
The heat and the smoke all adds to the tension that's everywhere but so far (cross fingers) no lives or property have been lost.
The damage done to the beautiful Grose Valley is another thing. I know that bushfires are a feature of the Australian bush and that some plant species rely on fires to propagate but there must be a lot of plants and animals that don't survive a firestorm like this.
Tonight the southerly has kicked in sending all the smoke away from the house. Unfortunately this also means that the main fire is heading North East to Tomah and the Bells Line of Road.
A big thank you to all those men and women who are out there in this stinking heat doing the right thing - next time you have a cake stall or a doorknock collection to raise funds for a new truck or fire pump I'll be putting a lot more in.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
We are not in an especially vulnerable position as our house is not on a ridge or at the end of a long ribbon of road as many properties in the Mountains are, but we're still cleaning out the gutters, clearing away any garden refuse and checking the rainwater tank. (Must get a pump for it.)
Depending on which way the wind is blowing the smoke creates an eerie orange light that even the residents of the inner west and coastal suburbs of Sydney are all too familiar with. The smell of smoke and stinging eyes are a constant presence as are the water bomb helicopters flying overhead and the Rural Fire trucks racing up and down the highway.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Thank you to Julie, the lovely Knit Picks enabler. It is amazing the lengths that us poor knitters downunder have to go to access the consumer goods that are taken for granted in the American continent. The kit is not as fully provisioned as Pamela's but she will probably use it a lot more than I will. (Check out her beautiful Sea Silk Swallowtail Shawl here ).
The green tangle beside the kit is a skein of Banana Silk I picked up from eBay just because. It a very uneven spin full of knots and slubs but it will make a nice novelty scarf in the true sense of the word. Plus it's the only Banana product we've had in this house for nearly a year - at about the same price for a kilo of the edible product!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The crack of thunder was one of the loudest things I have ever heard and it scared the bejeesuz out of me.
I was standing in the kitchen at the time and after rushing through rooms to ensure that computers and studio equipment were unplugged I collapsed into a chair because I was shaking so much. I am normally not an easily panicked person, in fact I love thunderstorms and watching lightning flashes but this was way, way too close for comfort.
The outcome of this strike is one fried telephone line (the ADSL still works though!), one fried printer and a huge mobile phone bill as I try and get on to Optus to report it.
In the old days of Telecom I would ring up faults, report the problem and hopefully it would be repaired within the week.
Today I spent 15 frustrating minutes talking (swearing) at the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) robot which finally puts me through to a call centre operator in Kazakhstan who listens to my problem then says "I will connect you to faults" and sends me to the number I dialed in the first place!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
This is Krista by White Lies Design.
It is the second Joan McGowan-Michael item I have knitted and I will probably be knitting more in the future. I really like her lacy, stylish designs and the fact that she has such an extensive range of sizes.
The pattern also comes in a kit at quite a reasonable price but with the helpful advice of the Wool Inn I've opted for Sirdar's "Luxury Soft Cotton" in Sage. It's an 8ply yarn that is a bit lighter then the Jo Sharp cotton and it has a lovely range of not quite pastel colours. It was a toss up between the Indigo and this smokey green.
The pattern's tension is 16st on 4.5mm and I'm at a bit of a loss how to calculate this across lace faggoting. Are the holes one stitch or two? By the look of it I'll have to go up to 5mm or go to a 10ply which I don't want to do because it will increase the weight.
Despite the fact that the Luxury Cotton is very soft and light I was rather spoilt after knitting Picovoli in that lovely Debbie Bliss Cathay... "a beautiful cotton/silk/viscose mix, a double knitting yarn with a subtle sheen and fantastic drape that is a pure pleasure to knit with and wear."
For once the marketeers weren't exaggerating and I am very happy with the finished product.
The pattern is a very easy knit and I had a lot of fun with the Picot edging and the waist darts. The pattern called for a M1 on either side of the increase dart by picking up the bar between stitches an knitting into the back or the front depending on the side. No matter how I tried I could not do the front M1 without making a hole so I ended up doing it all in the same knit through the back loop increase. The 6 balls of yarn I bought specifically for this pattern ran out as I was sewing up the hem so the Sirdar luxury cotton finished the job and made a nice segue to the next project - which is where we came in!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Most of them are in working order and most are motor driven. Somewhere I have all their serial numbers written down and from that I know their place of origin and year of constucion. None are earlier than 1918 and the youngest is circa 1952. Their shiny, black, cast iron construction and industrial levers and cogs is reminiscent of one of my other fascinations (obsessions?); steam locomotives.
One day I'll unpack them all, give them a polish and put them back out on display where their mechanical beauty can be appreciated.
Monday, November 06, 2006
It is air-conditioned in Summer and heated in Winter, the view is ever changing and at times quite spectacular; sometimes it gets a bit crowded but it at least offers two hours of uninterrupted, focused knitting time (unless I have a wee nap).
This is the 5.24pm ‘Fish’ service from Central to Lithgow and we've just passed Blaxland. There is a mist settling on the hills and I know the higher I go the cooler it will get. My stop is 660 metres above sea level and that's enough to make a substantial temperature difference between work and home.
As can be seen I've made good progress on Picovoli, finished off all the decreases and increases and am now heading into the last stretch - the Picot hem. I'm on the last ball so this is a good thing. The Picot bind off for the sleeves is yet to be finished so I may do that first.
This is the joy of knitting from the top down - you just keep going until the yarn runs out.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I discovered that my waist decreases for Picovoli were not even - obviously I was distracted at some period (Who Moi?) and did the SSK before the marker and not after - as clearly stated in the instructions.
Instead of a nice even line of left slanting stitches I had the Zig Zag line. I would have ripped it out in the past but I'm starting to get a bit braver with the 'drop down and pick up' technique.
At first I had crochet hooks and cable needles slipping and sliding as I juggled all the stitches - trying not to make it worse and failing miserably. I tried using my heirloom Sock Darning Pear but it was also too slippery and too small. Then the McToy caught my eye. Perfect size, able to have pins stuck in it, nice and light, it did the job beautifully! A bit of stretching and blocking and you wouldn't notice the repair (much). This now useful tool will be added to the knitting accessories basket.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
It opens the wrong way, has no protection from the weather or the hot afternoon sun.
What is does have going for it is a wonderful aspect over our back yard and beyond.
It gets some nice visitors of the human and bird variety and is a lovely place to sit with a cup of tea and admire the view.
This curious Australian King-Parrot was looking for a feed but the cupboard was bare. Until we can get a cat-proof feeder no bird food is going out .