Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Purely in the name of science

As M-H has suggested I'm replying to a meme here purely in the name of science and to raise the knitter blog presence. It's a study in "contra blog-triumphal models of memetic bootstrapping". To help this poor desperate, on-the-bones-of-his-whatever research student he needs people to;
  • 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).

A Morning's Business

The day started by watching the birds on the Melalueca outside the Kitchen window have their breakfast. First a young Wattle bird then a Honeyeater. The plant is scrappy and ravaged and was nearly burnt down last year by your's truly but it still flowers profusely and it still attracts lots of native birds.

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

Quiet Before the Idol Storm

It's been an eclectic weekend with lots of nice things happening. I made it to SSK on Saturday where I caught up with Peter, down from Armidale, and Lara and Emily and the usual SSK suspects. I then went on to work slightly late because I misread the roster but I think that was subconsciously intentional.

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

Kitchen window

This is the morning view I love to see from my Kitchen window. A haze of mist - not brown smoke but cool, enveloping, cloudy, moisture. This doesn't mean of course that all the flames have died down or that the firies are happy. The rain hinders the backburning operations that were to take place overnight.

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

Too close for comfort.

I don't want to harp on about the same old thing but this is what is taking up most of my attention for the moment.

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

'Tis the season.

For the past week I have been woken at 5:30 every morning by the eye-stinging, acrid smell of smoke. When I get up to check the house I don't see early morning mist but the haze of smoke from this. It's coming up to Christmas so it's Bushfire season. The same storm that zapped the phone lines last Monday initiated this blaze. The fire is a large one to the north west of us; it is not under control and there is a strong, hot nor'westerly wind due this afternoon.

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

Mail Goodies

My phone line is still fried, my printer is catatonic (I think the transformer was blown up) my lovely pink, alpaca, ISE scarf has disappeared down a black-hole of indifference but look what I got in the mail today.

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


Yesterday, around 11am the house was struck by lightning.
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

Picovoli meets Krista

I've finished the beautiful Picovoli and, without stopping to catch my breath, am on to the next pattern.

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! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My Singers

Here is a sample of my Singer Sewing Machine collection- they were once on show but due to space limitations have now been packed away in their cases. I've acquired most of them from op shops because, like orphan kittens, they appeal to me to take them home.

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. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Knitting Chair

My favourite Knitting Chair.

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. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Knitting is the Grandmother of Invention

Here we have those prolific and generally useless McCorporation Happy Toys being put to a much better use.

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.