Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Warning - rampant consumerism ahead

Today was like a second Christmas - a big parcel arrived from Little Knits with Noro Kureyon Yarn and a beautiful big Lantern Moon Diamond Tote Bag. All on sale of course. It would have arrived several weeks ago except for Customs deciding to check out the 'suspicious' yarn contents. I wish they'd repack the stuff as they found it instead of just stuffing it all back in the box. I wondered why the packaging looked so battered. Still, I'm so excited at finally getting it I'll forgive them.

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

A Bush Christmas

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

Barons Passes On

I read today that a Kings Cross institution by the name of Barons is about to close and be redeveloped - probably into Meriton apartments.

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

My Very Local Yarn Shop

This is going to be my Yarn Shop for the next few months. It is very well stocked and very local. I am inspired by Wendy Knits Knit-From-Your-Stash challenge. I do not think I will have the intestinal fortitude to maintain this for 9 months but I will give it a go.

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
10. Review,
11. Reassess,
12. Re-evaluate. Frequently.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fa la la la la

Photo: Midday rainbow, near Gore. St├ęphan Reebs

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

Jane Austen's Darcy - compare and contrast.

It's a cold and misty day here - unlike yesterday when it was hot and muggy. Both types are conducive to staying inside and knitting while watching classic Jane Austen.

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

The Blue Gum Forest

In this morning's SMH is this sad picture showing the present condition of the Blue Gum Forest, one of the most beautiful areas in the Grose Valley and a significant site in the formation of the Blue Mountains National Park.
"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

Cotton on

I've been shopping - it looks like I've got the cotton bug well and truly. The good thing is that Krista is now half finished and I am preparing for the next cotton item(s) to hit the needles.

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

Ruminant quadruped appreciation society.

Somewhere in this picture is a Julie and a Knitatpug - they are singing Handel's marvelous Choral piece "'The Messiah".
(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

Animal Responsibilities

Because of the full moon/weather/ deceased goldfish I have been disinclined to blog. The mood has been one of quiet despondency but that may have been more to do with low iron levels than anything really bad.

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.........