Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Botanists Way

"The Botanists Way is part of the larger Grand Circular Tourist Drive through the Hawkesbury, Lithgow, Oberon and Blue Mountains areas."

This is the introduction to a lovely website which harks back to the time of doing 'the Grand Tour". When traveling to the heights of the Blue Mountains was something that took several days and people had mansions and estates that they escaped to, away from the heat and smell of Sydney in the middle of Summer.

I've just finished reading Delia Falconer's book "The Service of Clouds" which is in the time of 'taking the mountain air' and going to Medlow Bath for the waters. While I'm not overly enamoured of her thesaurus style of writing, which one critic called "exuberant meditation", I did manage to get into the story of life in Katoomba at the turn of the 20th century. It took a lot longer to travel the Grand Circular Tourist Drive then and the traveler probably saw and experienced much more than today's day-tripper tourists in their air-conditioned deluxe coach.
The webpage suggests that "The 90 km drive along The Botanists Way between the Hawkesbury and Lithgow takes less than an hour and a half, but a whole day or even several days can be spent exploring all the sights and experiences along the way."

Much of that journey is along the wonderfully named Bell's Line of Road and it includes the Botanic Gardens at Mt Tomah, the elegant garden estates of Mt Wilson, and a myriad of cafes, orchards and small produce stalls. The last time we visited this area we bought honey at the farm gate and picked apples, walnuts and chestnuts straight from the trees. A novel but exciting experience for the young Dragon.

Until I read this website I was unaware of the wealth of other, non-commercial attractions along this route. I didn't know about the Waratah Native Garden or the lake on a mountain top at Mountain Lagoon near Sam's Way.

I think its time to start the Slow Travel movement to complement the one for Slow Food.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sea Silkiness

It was dire - because of work and sickness I went a whole two months without going to a Knitting Group (I don't count the Guild meetings because I'm the convener and there's not much time for idle knitterly chatter.) Finally, I managed to maneuver work, domestic and other commitments around so that I could attend Rubi & Lanas last weekend. It was a full house - Lara finally made it as did Pamela and Celia and Sally and first timer, Simone. Taryn brought along a skein of beautiful Blue Sea Silk yarn from Hand Maiden - I've been wanting to check it out ever since I heard about its apparent therapeutic properties - and it has a slight salty smell too it - just like they said. Apparently it takes time to fill all the orders (especially as it seems to be the yarn of blogging choice lately) so I've put in a request for one skein for whenever it arrives. I don't mind waiting because I've got so many projects on the go. Truth in sidebar progress bars? I don't think so.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rag Mag Hag

I've just discovered a wonderful online magazine, Spins & Needles. It is published from the "haven for spinners, knitters and felters" That Spinning Place which is based in Riverstone, NSW, and from my first look it certainly gives some commercial Australian Yarn magazines a run for their money!
I mean who can resist a pattern for knitted boots (that look a lot like Uggies). The Fern shawl pattern is probably nothing new to any owner of a decent set of Barbara Walker but it looks so pretty. I have a recently aquired skein of laceweight Cashmere that may have found a reason for being.

Some of the articles I found interesting -
Knitted then felted slipper boots; Knit a romantic Fern Shawl; Beaded stitch markers - How to make your own; and Fibre Focus: English Leicester Sheep Breed.
The next issue is due out this month so more fodder for this Mag Hag.

Super Troupers

At 73 I hope to have half of the energy of this woman. Chita Revera is an amazing trouper in the true sense of the word. Her short season in the Studio has just finished and I was one of a number of totally impressed punters who were entertained by her stamina and charisma. She was the original feisty Anita of West Side Story and she's still got it (as well as the best legs on any person her age or younger!)

In the Concert Hall another doyen from the same era was performing a more sedate set. Debbie Reynolds may not have thrown herself around the stage with the same energy as Chita but her audience was still as adoring. She kept them enthralled with snippets of songs, anecdotes and film clippings. She managed to make a 2000 plus hall seem as intimate as the Studio and ya gotta respect that.

More power to these divas, may they all go out dancing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Serendipiditous shopping

We were looking for the Kings Cross Library on a Sunday afternoon and I ended up with 10 Balls of Rowan Magpie Tweed instead.
The building where the library used to be was next to the El Alamein fountain and in the large square surrounding it there happened to be a market. Neither the Young Dragon nor I can resist such a thing so we went shopping. He came away with 7 collectors teaspoons, a bag of Columbian Organic Sugar (no, that is not a euphemism) a Mexican hot chocolate and 'The Magic Schoolbus' book; I gained this lovely yarn.

It's in the freezer at present going through quarantine but it seems to be in good condition with no visible damage or moth signs. The remainder of the yarn on the stall was all single balls of bright acrylic, so it was no wonder this caught my eye - even with its understated, handwritten 'English Wool' label.

At $50 I think it was a bargain - but of course the issue now is what shall I knit with it? I have seen it recommended for 'Rogue' and as there are several people that have already finished this, in my neck of the woods, it is up for consideration. I may also look for a simple basic Aran pattern for a 9yr old as the colour is so suitable (it matches his eyes).

On a ps. note while I was searching for inspiration for Magpie I came across several posts on Something from Nothing's Blog detailing the troubles she was having with the different gauges and textures of Jo Sharp Aran Tweed. Not to harp on about the poor old Rib Wrap but I may have got off lightly with only one wonky ball - so I will count my blessings and appreciate its warmth.

pps. We finally found the Library in the old Woolworths building in the heart of the nightclub and sex shops strip. Must be fun to work there.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Switchboard Operator

Even though I think memes are a little like the chain mail I used to receive when I was at school - I never replied to them then and I'm not indulging now - a recent question I received did inspire me to revisit my first real job, (not counting the paper run I had delivering the Mataura Ensign).

In between leaving secondary school and going to Otago Uni I trained and worked as a Telephone Switchboard Operator. Just like these ladies I sat in front of a bank of 'plugs', 'jacks' and 'ports' and switched people's toll calls, answered emergency 111 calls and tapped out Party Line codes.

This was in the Gore Post Office, a large concrete bunker of a building in which my Aunt Valerie and Uncle Fred worked for most of their lives. About 20 women sat in this room (no men of course - this was womens' work) with the Supervisors sitting at a desk behind listening in to ensure we used the correct phrasing, "Tolls Here" "Whom do you wish to call?" and that we didn't 'monitor' the conversations for too long.

It was shift work, and because I had no family commitments I was often rostered on all the unsocial evenings shifts and Christmas Day. The skills I learnt then served me well into my present occupation. Really, nothing has changed - I still work unsocial hours and I'm still a 'switchboard' operator (lighting).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A slight distraction

This is what happens when my brain is fugged out by the flu. I start rummaging through the stash tidying up, moving things from one bag to another and a match is made.
One St. Vinnies, 20c, pattern with one bag of cheap, eBay, unknown yarn (maybe Totem 8ply variegated). This is a little swatch of the interesting herringbone pattern made with my lovely Colonial rosewood circs.

This brief flirtation is not a serious commitment though - the yarn and pattern will take now their place in the queue, satisfied that at least they have been matched. Clapotis2 is almost at the finishing post, the Studio Mohair Rib Cardigan is at Sleeve stretch and the sideways garter stitch jumper is following closely in the rear.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A cup of tea, a clapotis and a good read.

When the winter Flu has taken hold and every breath is painful - don't fight it! Retire to the Couch with this remedy and maybe last night's episode of Bleak House if the brain can't cope with the strain of reading.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Elizabeth 1 and clarification

I have recently joined a KAL called the Tudor Roses Knitalong based, of course, on the Tudor Roses Collection by Alice Starmore. I had already made an attempt at this pattern last year after being inspired by all the beautiful works in AS books. I was lucky enough to have access to them through the Guild Library and seeing the scary prices most of AS works fetch on eBay all I can say is 'thank god for libraries'.

Elizabeth 1 is one of the 'less complex' (I won't say simpler) patterns. It has bell sleeves, a graceful neckline and a shaped waist. I bought some Superfine Supersoft 5ply and swatched up a few samples to find the right needles. Unfortunately the ball I chose either had moth damage (scary) or was a bad run because the yarn kept breaking every few feet. That was enough to put me off and place poor old Liz into the Project pile where she waited patiently until I found the KAL.
I'm going to follow the example of another blogger and start the sleeves first. That way I can practice the darts and shaping even though I hate doing sleeves - my addled brain loses track of the increases and I have to resort to safety pins as markers. My wip look like punk rockers.

On another note I just want to clarify my previous ranting about the ill-fated Jo Sharp rib-wrap. I concur the photo didn't quite reveal the "huge, glaring, obvious, colour difference" the same way my subjective view did but it is obviously there - with a rougher texture as well. The good news is that I am wearing it anyway. It is very warm and comfortable so I can forgive its idiosyncrasies , especially after watching the DVD of "Cider House Rules" last night and seeing all the poor orphans rejected for all sorts of strange reasons such as "being too quiet".

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Still not happy Jo!

I should be happy - I've finished an item! It's the Jo Sharp Wrap rib and other than a bit of blocking and a few ends to tidy it is complete. The annoying, sad, irritating, peeving part of this lovely completed project is the huge, glaring, obvious, colour difference between the left and right front. When I bought this yarn from another LYS 4 years ago I bought it as a packet of 10 and 1 single. I presumed it was all the same dye lot because that's how it was sold to me. It was also the first wool I had bought for 5 years as I was coming out of a knitting 'sabbatical'. I didn't notice this huge, glaring, obvious, colour difference while I was constructing the garment as the front is a narrow strip of rib which is then attached to the collar. I'm not going to frog it as I have too many objects in the frog and pre-frog state and I wanted to bask in the glow of having a completed garment. So, I will leave it but it will forever be 'tainted'. I still haven't achieved happy knitter nirvana yet but I will persevere.