Monday, April 30, 2007

For those who don't know

G'day all!

Bendigo woollen mills now has a website! HOO-BLASTED-RAY!

Today I have a few more links. I still have not got photos of the stuff I've been working on - after dragging DH to his chiro appt this mronign, then I had to take him to Jaycar to get electronics bits and bobs, then I went shopping (groceries and fruit and veg, nothing exciting and yarny except for one lonely ball) and then spent most of the afternoon in the garden since DH had friends around to be garden slaves.

At this point, I must say I am STUFFED! Deadus meatus. Even knitting is tuckering me out so much I don't want to knit! I sawed the tops off two agapanthus, mattocked out a couple of stumps (one of this was very much still alive and not wanting to let go of the ground), cut down half a cotoneaster (very weedy here and MUST go), then started doing some ground prep to plant roses tomorrow.

So I will leave you with some links and some thoughts.

There are not too many 107 year old bloggers online. All About Olive (Donni found this one and it is amusing me on occasion)

One way to save Australia's environment - eat more roo/native animal and have fewer hard hoofed animals! (Have I eaten both our national symbols - the roo and emu? Yep! Yum!)

An amazing idea about how to treat malaria.

Some fab scout badges.... How many can you claim?

One of the big things in genetics at the moment is epigenesis. This is the study of how gene activity can be affected, and how the effects can be passed through generations outside of the genetic code. It is totally fascinating. We already know that the environment in the womb can affect how a developing foetus turns out - the baby's health is affected by the mum's nutrition and general health, smoking, etc. eg babies whose mums smoke tend to be smaller and don't do as well, if mum didn't take folic acid before getting pregnant, the baby is more likely to have spina bifida, etc. Now it turns out that your grandmother's health/environment (and grandfather?) can affect your health too. The way this happens is that genes can be turned on and off. This is very very normal - genes are always being turned on and off. However, some genes are not normally turned on (or off) in healthy people. Some gene products are always needed. Some gene products are not at all desirable (eg ones that encourage cell growth in cells that should not be growing). So genes that are needed are turned on and those that are not needed are switched off. Genes can be turned on and off by methylation (amongst other means). Basically if the bit of a gene saying "start reading me here" is methylated then it can't be read and its product is not created. It turns out that the environment and health of an individual's mum (and her mum, and to some extent her grandfather, her partner and his parents) affects the methylation of genes. If your (maternal) grandmother was exposed to a certain environment, certain genes are turned on that should be turned off (and turned off that should be on), and you end up more likely to demonstrate certain things (eg cancer, high blood pressure, etc). Her genes were methylated in a certain way, so are your mum's and so are yours. Also, there is a lot of interesting stuff in the egg (ovum) that can affect gene regulation. The egg brings with it everything but the kitchen sink - it has all the normal stuff a normal cell has. It seems likely that all the stuff in the egg, not just the DNA, can have an impact on how the baby turns out, what diseases it is susceptible to, all sorts of things. Everything in an egg is derived from that woman's parents (hence the generation effect) cos the eggs develop whilst the woman is a foetus and only mature when they are ovulated. All our cells are basically derived from that ovum's contents, with more stuff brought in from outside as needed. Sperm doesn't carry so much baggage - it is mostly just a parcel to carry Dad's DNA (but it does have a little carry on bag of goodies of its own).

(I am sure that someone will come along and correct me - I have not done a whole lot of reading on this yet... I have simplified some bits too - does everyone need to know there is a pre-promotor region which is what the RNA transcriptase comes along and sits on? And that that is the bit that if methylated stops the transcription happening? No? I thought not.)

Ooops, time to cook dinner and watch Mythbusters, not int hat order!


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Grron sale, graon sale

G'day all!

(Any other Melburnians remember "Compradez de Franco Cotzo? In Norda Melabun and Foodiscray.")

Today's post is brought to you by desperate and dollar-less.

Things are rumbling along here today. DH is playing in the bathroom with a friend and managing to get up and down reasonably well. It seems his back is easing up some more now. Being in a good temper helps a LOT too! Interesting how the mind-body connection works). I'm getting over the cold quite nicely now. It has rained some and has gone cooler (annoyingly now that I can wash more fleece but hey we need rain. Even the 10mm we've had so far makes a big difference!). Everything looks lush and damp outside, which means I'll have to cut the nature strip soon (is that what other people call the strip of grass between the footpath and the road outside your house?). I have heaps of plants to plant and stuff to do but for the nonce? Gran' sale time!

I'm putting up some of my handspun on the blog and most on the handspun website (hold your horses, it ain't all done yet!). Hmm, I am having some major problems with the handspun page (ie my editor just ATE THE WHOLE THING! It saved a different document over it! How did it do that????) so to entertain you whilst it appears, have a look at this page - who needs drugs (or in my case gluten) when you can have optical illusions instead?

All the yarn I spin is soft and should be very pleasant for next to skin wear unless you (like me) are particularly sensitive to wool. Even then it is fine for things like mittens, hats, scarves.... Most of the yarns are woollen or semi-woollen spun (ie soft, fuzzy and lofty). All yarns are handwash in cool water with a mild detergent only (unless you *want* them to felt! They will felt very happily for you).

The yarn is only going to be available through my website or this page until Tuesday 8th May 2007 Australian time (so that is in effect 7 May for Americans). Then it all goes to the guild, where it gets a price hike as they take 25% commission (and it would be 40% except I donate time to the guild).

Here we have nearly 400m of fingering weight finn cross handspun yarn, weight about 100g. Soft and yummy. Purty, eh?

I was going to keep this one for myself but like I have SOOOO much yarn. You are the winner! This lot, due to fineness and cost of tops, AU $18.

There's a sunsetty version of the aqua finn too, again about 100g, same sort of weight, same price. Must find its picture!

Here's 65g of handspun neutral coloured corridale/merino yarn, about 100m, say a 5mm needle, dyed with jewel tones:

AU $7

Overdyed dark brown corriedale - deep burgundy. Very soft and should be a great yarn to knit. 140m, 115g, say a 5mm needle (swatch to test this!):

AU $12
(There should be two skeins of this - if you are interested get me to check!)

OK, gotta go completely redo my handspun page from scratch. Grrr! All I did was open up another page in the editor and it totally overwrote the first page!

Oh, for those who are wondering, no news at present on the move. Just as well cos after this cold I am a week behind where I need to be.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Oxygen returneth

G'day all!

The snot-fest here is quietening down, thank heavens! As I can breathe more easily now, I am finding my ability to think returning, well as much as it ever does. It seems that not only have I been suffering from a cold but also from hayfever caused by back burning in the bush leaving a haze of smoke over the city. Me and smoke don't get along so well y'see.

DH is all over the shop. I hauled him off to my chiro yesterday. She did all sorts of interesting evaluations, then did a range of adjustments (some of which made him squawk - he's been there when I've been back-cracked but for whatever reason he just thought I was being poked at and prodded, not actually having anything done!!!) and sent him on his way for the time being. He has to go back next week. She says he has a damaged disc, not ruptured, just annoyed and a little torn and that he is guarding it by annoying his right SI joint instead. I know about SI joints - I strained one years ago when I fell over my chair at work whilst carrying a particularly large and heavy file. Anyway, he is walking better now - he looked like an old man shuffling along after two back fusions and bad rehab - and is relatively functional, except for when he lies down. Once he is down it hurts a fair bit trying to get back up again.

Have I been knitting? Yes! But the results are totally underwhelming as I had to rip it out thrice because I first didn't like the pattern then managed to join something in the round with a nice little moebius twist in it twice - not helpful when I am trying to knit a dress for my niece's baby. Plus the Wildfoote sock slowly continues - it is the knitting I do whilst waiting in line at the post office or when I need to do brainless knitting (and then stuff it up anyway). I've been doing a bit of dyeing as well - results will go up on the website over the next few days. Expect a couple of lots of sunsetty colours plus lots of cobalty violetty colours and a little pale sea greeny stuff. 8ply/DK, chunky and laceweight! I have sock yarn to post too but I've been avoiding handling yarn that will be for sale whilst I've been snotty. Whilst I like sharing yarny love around, I don't want to share snot! You can quote me on that....

After Trudi's recommendation, I visited a shop called Auroma. I bought some shampoo and some normal soap powder to try on my fleece. The shampoo, which has no sulphates, petrochemicals, preservatives, etc, worked well. It has a pH of about 6-7. The soap also worked well, though its pH appears somewhat higher (ie it is alkaline). I used citric acid in the rinses for the soap washed fleece. The fleece I washed was some of my favourite merino - a lovely silver spotty fleece. It is the only pure merino fleece I have. I figure I can buy a heap of white merino top really cheap so why buy merino fleeces and process them myself? May as well process the unusual fleeces that I cannot buy, whether they be silver spotty merino or finn X corriedale or corrie X merino, etc. Anyway so far so good. The fleece is now dry and seems soft enough but not greasy. Why on earth buy wonderful fleeces and then dry them out to the point of breakage? You wouldn't do that to your hair deliberately so why spend money on fleeces to ruin them?

Tonight I am off to listen to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A friend offered me a ticket since she is going to a wedding. I figure why not? I can catch up with other friends who will be there (and hopefully not hack or snot on them ;-). DH isn't coming along as there is only one ticket. He said I can have the ticket as he isn't sure about sitting for that long. Isn't that nice?


PS if you are the anonymous commenter who said they would like some of my yarn, email me at natiel3 at yahoo dot com and let me know what yarn. I can't reply to anyone who comments anonymously - that is the whole idea of anonymity! Actually I can't reply to comments as blogger doesn't have that capacity. Any recommendations for another commenting system? Maybe when this US stuff comes off I will switch elsewhere....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ANZAC Day 2007

G'day all!

Thanks to those who have offered suggestions for the fleece washing. I shall follow them up tomorrow, when the shops are open again.

Anzac Day 2007. I thought this year I would go to the march or the dawn service (though I am not exactly a godly type). After all, it is likely to be my only chance for the next couple of years or more. So I was starting to get a plan together. That is before Nathan got the snots, literally, and the hacking cough and then threw his back out (poor thing can hardly move), and merrily shared his disease with me. At least his cough is dying down now that he is on antibiotics (or it may have anyway) and he didn't keep *me* awake half the night.....

So Anzac Day this year involves many tissues and much grumping at the people who are starting to develop a derelict block across the road. It is a public holiday, it is ANZAC DAY ferchrissakes and they are out with their chainsaws chopping down Even More Trees.

Oh yes, we are very very underimpressed with them chopping down at least two very tall gum trees. They took them out yesterday. We don't mind the cherry plums and weedy trees being taken out but these trees were enormous and lovely. The trees made it look like a park, albeit an overgrown park but a park nonetheless. Then *They* started again with the chainsaw at 8am this morning, despite it being *the* most sacred day on the Australian secular calendar (and it being against council bylaws and all). Even the shops don't open on Anzac Day until noon! Crikey!

Anyway, what tales do I have to tell on this Anzac Day. You've heard earlier tales last year and the year before. Hmmm.... Pictures and quotes today are from cards my Pop send home. They are Sacred War Relics in my family.

I guess that people outside Oz and NZ will not really know what ANZAC stands for. (The) Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who fought in the First World War. My Pop (grandfather) fought at Gallipoli/Anzac Cove (and if you read that link, you will be amazed by the massive loss of life, and the sheer stupidity of landing me on coves that back onto sand dunes and cliffs!). So many men died simply because their chief commander was incompetent. So many men died because Churchill stole the Turkish battleships. Ridiculous.

Pop started off by going to Egypt, which was the staging post for the attack on Turkey (Gallipoli). He wrote two postcards, same picture of the HMA Makarini (Makarini was a great Maori chieftain). The one to his sister effectively says "having a great trip, will send post cards for Christmas." The one to his brother says "this is our troop ship we came in hope I am not on a troop ship again."

Pop then went to the Battle of the Somme. He was a member of the 4th, 2nd and 1st Divisions at various stages I think and greatly enjoyed the machine guns that they used ("funny things like pipes Are Lewis gunns rate of fire 750 A minute Etc. I have jumped them into Action Twice when MG was wiped out. Great gunns to stop a Rush."). The French women were lovely. "Hope you are well has it leaves me. We are having A good time over here with good weather but will soon have winter." I don't think he liked the war itself though. He suffered wounds on more than one occasion and deserted at one point (we suspect he may have met a girl). From what I can make out of his military record, he was Trouble. He got busted a lot. He was declared missing in action after being severely wounded (half your face shot off is severely wounded, wouldn't you say?) and left behind during a retreat. But he survived, in one form or another, unlike many many thousands of his compatriots, and spawned a whacky family ;-)

(Do you like the symbols on the machine gun card? The blue flowers up the top are supposed to be rosemary, for remembrance, and then there is a rose for England, a shamrock for the Irish and a thistle for Scotland. No ANZ references though.)

He spent a lot of time in camps in England, with this notable mention of a camp of Salisbury Plains. "Salisbury Plains, Stonehenge. Centre of the largest two up school ever in the world. Used to gather here every Sunday after church parade.... " (you can read more of it here.) Can you believe that they played two-up in and around Stonehenge?

Gallipoli and the Western Front forged an identity for my country, and for the Kiwis too. Odd how so much death could bring a nation together. One of the greatest heroes of Gallipoli was Simpson (and his donkey). Funnily enough, Simpson was not even an Australian. Sir John Monash forged a career in the military (though I believe he was a talented engineer). Monash Uni was named for him.

(At least one more symbol - the viola, for "I will be true" ie faithful)
After WWI, thousands of maimed men came home to wives and sweethearts and new lives. Ones like my Pop I don't think ever really recovered. Then it all happened again in WWII, only a LOT closer to home. The Japs raided Darwin not just once but scores of times! They were in New Guinea. Two mini-subs entered Sydney Harbour! I wish I had asked my parents more about WWII because they lived through it but I didn't. My father was in a protected industry, teaching women how to weld and build vehicles. He wasn't allowed to go to war. Did he get a white feather? How did the people respond to the threat from the Japs? Lost opportunities and all that. I have to say though, after the treatment handed out to allied troop POWs by the Japanese, it isn't surprising that many of them went to their graves still hating anything Japanese.

Then there was Korea and Vietnam and and and.... At least I can see the point of WWI and II. There was a genuine threat there. But these days? Umm, nope. I just don't get it. As far as I can see, it is a way for Dubya's daddy's cronies to feather their nests. I feel sorry for the troops that are in Iraq (and Afghanistan), for the ones who desert and have to live in Canada,(not that living in Canada is bad but having to leave their country because their beliefs do not allow them to kill non-Enemies), for the poor blasted Iraqis (and Afghans), most of whom just want to rebuild their lives and live in peace....

War! What is it good for?

Lest we forget.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh what to do! A whinge follows

G'day all!

DH has kindly passed his cold to me, though I am still fighting it off. No dripping faucet for me quite yet. Still I am not exactly bright and perky.

In the meantime, I need to scour my fleeces. I have about six left to do. Unfortunately the new scour at the guild is extremely alkaline and it tends to burn the tips of the fleece (which are usually damaged anyway). I'm a bit grumpy cos I bought two bottles of it and it is crappy. The old scour was about ph6. It didn't burn the fleeces (or make my hands go all dry and chapped). I need a neutralish detergent that is nice to my hands and therefore nice to my fleeces.

Some people use Amway's LOC but I don't know any Amway distributors and am not exactly willing to get on an Amway distributor's list. I suspect it is not cheap either. I could use shampoo but the old scour was quite concentrated and only cost me $4.60 for a litre. I don't know where I can get a good, plain, unscented shampoo that is anywhere near that cost effective. Most of them reek of perfumes.

I've tried emailing and ringing a couple of chemical companies but they are clueless. All I want is a neutral/slightly acidic detergent that is biodegradable. You would not think it that hard! But it is!

Gosh I am feeling so disgruntled with the whole thing. Surely I can get some blasted decent, not smelly and CHEAP detergent! I can get stuff that costs over $10 a litre but I'll need at least two more litres and you know my financial state at the moment.

I wonder if I can adjust the ph of the new yucky horrid steenky (it smells like rancid lemon, if that is possible) detergent? Or should I give up and go buy some more of the stuff I've been shampooing with, which was $11 a litre and try that? (I've almost run out of it)

Grumble. Whine. Any suggestions (apart from don't whinge)?


Sunday, April 22, 2007

I caved

It is ordered. I shouldn't buy anything at present but hey, it only adds about $30 to our already negative $1500 a month drain on the mortgage...


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Best intentions

G'day all!

My new obsession:

My old obsession is complete, for the moment. I need to spin some more yarn and make it just that little bit bigger. Or lose some weight. Since I am quite happy with my weight, I will blend up some yarn (in absence of the original hand painted stuff, though I do have more of the plying yarn) and knit some more onto the edge.

No pics yet - the weather has been, ahem, interesting since I finished it. Sunny at first yesterday then a nice big fat cloud came in and gave us a bit of rain. Only 8mm (1/3 inch) but beggars can't be choosers and it has made the garden perk up some - we had only had about 5mm for the entire month until yesterday. Now we've had 13mm. Only 45mm to go until we reach the average, or 37mm for the median.

I showed off my obsession at the spinners' guild meeting yesterday on their show and tell table. It got a clap! Applause means it is good. :-)

You need to see a random picture of our eggplants being eaten by slugs. Ooops. I've only ever gotten one eggplant a year off any of the plants I've grown in the last four year and this one? We've had about 4 eaten out by slugs, four got over ripe and another 6 have been edible. Plus it is still bearing more aubergines. Amazing, eh? Plus the hibiscus is still going strong after getting a savage pruning last year:

Now the other day I intended to get a whole lot of handspun up onto my website to sell it. Alas, the best of intentions cruelly undone by:
a) the bathroom
b) cleaning up
c) DH upgrading his computer which meant that mine suddenly didn't work properly any more (apparently all my files are stored on his hard drive)
d) my computer randomly freezing. It is very very hard to crash my computer. It has a very robust operating system - not windoze. In the last three weeks I have crashed it three times, twice doing exactly the same thing (editing yarn labels).

So I am still editing pics and getting them online. I need to do this asap as if the yarn does not sell quickly (say within two weeks) I will need to send it off to the guild.

In the meantime, I really want this book. Want so bad! It will cost me $40 to get it from Amazon (adding in postage and USD to AUD conversion). The cheapest (only price) I've seen here is $70!!! Of course by the time I add a couple of other books, I will be up for $70.

A number of people have been asking me about how I feel about moving to the US or commenting that they could not move halfway round the world. (OK, it isn't quite halfway round the world.)

Well my feelings are a bit mixed, especially after the week you Americans have just had. The number of people who seem to go nuts with guns in the USA is scary.

Now I know that guns don't kill people - it is the nut holding the gun, but guns make it very very easy to kill people at some range. Have you ever heard of someone going nuts with their fists and beating 30 people to death? Or even with a knife? It is so easy to kill people when you just have to pull a trigger. Face to face has to be a lot harder. I'm with most Australians on this matter - guns just make arguments and nutters a helluva lot more dangerous. Yes you can still get guns here but the types you can get are limited and some can't be used outside certain environments (eg rifle ranges, etc).

Anyway, having polarised my audience, I now go on to talk about other aspects of moving.

What will I miss most?

It will be out of these

(I love it when Nathan plays the piano but Nutmeg hates it - can you tell?)

or these

Yep. The pudding cats or the Australian environment. I seem to be very attached to gum trees. You wouldn't really know it but after being away from Oz for a month in 99, the first thing I wanted to see what a gum tree - not even a familiar face or my own bed! I know there are plenty in California, so I might just have to visit Ca occasionally and crush a gum leaf in my hands. Colorado does not seem to have the same variety of plants as I am used to.

The cats will be hard to say goodbye to. I think Nutmeg might fret some - she followed us around everywhere for more than a week after we got back. She tends to be a bit dog like that way, but this was even more so than normal.

Then there are friends and family. The good thing about these is email and phone calls. It is not the same as seeing people but it will be a lot easier than it would've been even 20 years ago. Again, hard to say goodbye but the connections can continue a lot more easily than they can for say the cats. Plus we already know we have to have a spare bedroom - we've been told to expect visitors. I already knew we wouldn't have a one bedroom place - we need a place for the computers and we need a place for at least one extra bed for two people. Plus a sofa bed (or whatever others call couches that convert to beds, albeit uncomfortable beds but ok for an overnight or two stay).

The house? Well I haven't lived here long enough to get a real attachment to this place. We have not been here 18 months yet. I like my home well enough, but it is like my car. I took about two years to really bond to my car and now I will be sad to sell him to a friend (but he is going to a friend so I'll hear how he is going). He's been a very good car to me. Never broken down (touch wood), only one battery and two centre tailights, plus a new set of rear brake pads and a windscreen. We zip around places and fly up twisty roads (not literally) and he gets no more than 7L/100km (32mpg) even when I flog him. The best I've had from him is 5L/100km (about 50mpg). I'll miss my baby car.

I'll miss the garden too. When this idea of Nathan working in the US first came up, I expected that we would live in an apartment. Now though I am starting to wonder. I need a garden to potter in. I like to wander around in it, pull out the odd weed, put in the odd plant. The gardens in the apartment blocks are all too perfect and manicured. There doesn't seem to be any place in those areas for a person to get up close and personal with dirt. My whole family gardens. We all have vegie patches and ornamentals and yards that we are interested in (if you saw our yard, you might wonder though). So I am looking at duplexes and older houses in Fort Collins (the internet is a wonderful thing!). If anyone has any suggestions about where to live (the boy will be working on E Harmony Road, almost at the I-25 and I would like to be able to walk/ride to the shops/Vitamin Cottage/Wholefoods in good weather), I'm all ears!

Food. This is one thing that doesn't bother most people but does bother me. Other people on restricted diets will also know how it feels. People who are able to eat anything do not understand how het up people like me (gluten free/dairy free diet) get about food. Just a little won't hurt! Just a little danged well will hurt - I go whacko in the head (my friends who have done various drugs tell me my description of it sounds like a bad trip) along with often severe gastrointestinal problems, with fatigue lasting up to several days afterwards. Food is a very basic requirement for life and being poisoned by something you eat (especially when you've been told it is fine for you to eat) is not pleasant. It is all very Maslow's Hierachy of Needs.

When it all boils down though, I can't wait! I don't want to "abandon" people and pudding cats here but this is a really really good move for Nathan and it could be good for me. There are more opportunities in the US than there are here if nothing else because of population size. OK, there are plenty of whackos there and the religious right has a lot more power there than it does here, same for the gun lobby and other groups that I consider radical. I don't intend to live in the US for ever (US govt will be giving us temporary visas anyway not green cards)- I consider this place to be my home. Maybe that will change, more likely it won't.

There are pluses and minuses but it will be a Most Excellent Adventure!

Happy Earth Day!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My favourite obsession

Come up to the lab and see what's on the slab. I see you shiver with antici...........pation. I've been making a man, with blond hair and a tan...

G'day all!

I give you pictures of my current obsession. Lots of pictures. They are not really of a man with blond hair and a tan (and a little pair of gold shorts - gosh I wish I had the money to be able to pull a comment out of the hat and send a prize to the person who identifies who sia dthe quote and in what). No longer up to date pictures, since these were shot when I had 125g of yarn left and now I have mm, maybe 25g. I still have no idea if it will work or not - the circumference of it is now about 3 metres I'd guess (actually if I remember my algebra, it apparently is about 4.5m around - no wonder each row takes a while now!).

In the mean time I must really update my website with new dyed yarns and also some handspun! Lots of handspun! Here's a little hint of what will be going online hopefully in the next day or two...

Plus there will be ONE lonely skein of merino:tencel sock yarn in mauves/purples/pinks. It looks so purty! You can see a little hint of it in one corner of the box. It is a bit shiny. I dyed it up for me, then I realised that since we will most likely be going to the USA, I can buy more there and dye more up! I know it is as rare as hens' teeth here. I can probably open up a supply line for us poor benighted Australians who do not have these fancy sock yarns (but we do have patonyle and heirloom argyle!).


Monday, April 16, 2007

Still alive

G'day all!

i am still alive and still kicking. The easter egg on my head has subsided to a very small sore spot now (and I am sure that DH will gleefully tell me my poor noggin is all pretty shades of purple and green - it was just bright angry red). Gosh, imagine I could've been the first person to fracture their skull on a hand-drier. Or maybe not.

Anyway, I have been extremely busy! We are starting to clear out all the stuff we will never use. I should say *I* will never use. I've brought six large boxes of Stuff down to two small and one medioum box. I am taking a whole heap of material and clothes to the op shop today. The material is mostly stuff that I got from a place that did offcuts of sheeting and upholstery fabric. I realised that if I have not made anything with it in the last 8 years, I am unlikely to do anything with it now. The clothes and shoes are not ones I will take with me to the USA so why keep them? For someone who does not like high heels, I had about 15 pairs for work - a right little Imelda Marcos I am! I hate wearing shoes I find uncomfortable (ie heels and narrow toe space) but I love them at the same time. If it has a Louis the whateverth heel, I am so there! (But they are not fashionable at present - that never stopped me before!) If it is girly, I love it. If it is a "Betty Grable" shoe or something like what my mum would've worn in the 40s and 50s, oo la la!

So I have to finish the worst of the clearing out today, in between being TOTALLY obsessed.

Yep, most of my silence is because I am totally obsessed by the pinwheel jacket I am knitting. Since Saturday I have knitted the sleeves after making up the pattern as I went along. I had to knit the sleeves from the cuff up as I didn't know if I would have enough yarn. The answer to that question was no, but when I took the main body off the needles, I realised that it sucked big time, so I ripped it back about umm, more than halfway (EEK!). I had well over 600 stitches on the needles and it was looking too oddly ruffled, but not ruffled in a good way, just in a way that made it look utterly wrong. So I ripped it back a long way and suddenly discovered that I could finish both the sleeves no worries!

Now I have to redo the body. I know what to do and what not to do now. It will take a few more days to get done though, but still a new jacket in less than two weeks is pretty good. Assuming I don't lose enthusiasm....

We almost have walls in the bathroom. I am contemplating buying some flooring paint and just sanding the floor a bit and painting it. Maybe I will regret that in the future but it would be a helluva lot cheaper than buying vinyl - vinyl here is not at all cheap unless you buy the really rancid horrid thin stuff that will last about 10 seconds under our cats galloping up and down the house with claws out.

Another busy day here! Nathan may or may not have to work today - the campus is closed due to a power failure that hurt two men yesterday. Being an IT person, he may be needed if/when they bring the computers back online. Since there is no airconditioning I feel a lot of people will stay away - it will either be freezing (only 14 degrees outside at present, hmm, about umm55-60?) or frying (if you have a large computer and oldstyle CRT monitor) today.

OK, off to do stuff! BTW, the shop is updated a little with some price reductions - I need to clear out more stock cos i have more to put online, including some handspun! I also have some more sock yarn dyed up so check every now and then if you are interested!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brainiac and OMG AKC

G'day all!

So much happening here yet so little. You don't need to know how many more fleeces I've washed since we got back (only three or four). I'm not totally happy with the new wool scour - the guild's supplier of wool scour says they are not making it any more but here use this rancid smelling yellow stuff that is much thinner. I worked out one possible reason why I am not happy with the new scour:

See those spots? Each of those is a pH test. From bottom right we have our normal laundry powder, one brand of wool wash, two spots of the old wool scour, another brand of wool wash and the new wool scour. The old wool scour has spots of bright purple in it (which is contamination from the powder I am fairly certain - I had some on my hands) but is mostly green. The other detergents are a lovely royal purple - about as alkaline as it gets. The green spots mean about pH6.

I suspect the old scour was hair shampoo - it smelt ok and had a certain shampooey-gloopiness to it. The new one is a runny industrial cleaner as far as I can tell.

What am I doing about it? Emailing some companies to see if they can supply something that is like the old scour. I don't like the new scour. The fleeces feel quite dry and the tips are very brittle. I only had that occur with the old scour if I then dyed up washed fleece.

So why am I a brainiac today? Cos I brained myself! I bent over to pick up my dirty clothes in the shower at Monash and forgot about the hand drier right above my head. Ooof! Gosh it hurt some! I didn't see stars - I didn't whack my occipital area, just frontal cortex, nicely in front of the motor cortex of my right side. I rubbed it frantically, hoping no blood would come out. I am not good with blood, my own in particular (though I can do surgery on sheep, go figure!) and if blood had gushed out I probably would've fainted (and cracked my head again). No blood but I have a nice egg on my head. I had to bus and train home cos I couldn't put my helmet on. LOL At least the nice cleaning effects of my first shower in a week were not undone by having to ride.

Speaking of showers, do you like our shower as it was a week ago

and our new open plan shower?


So it seems I will be using buckets of water in the bath for some time to come, unless I ride to Monash.

Anyway, I was going to put some AKC up - Actual Knitting Content! Hooray!

Nathan's new sock in burnt sugar wildfoot:

He has to try it on before I can go much further - I hope the foot is the right length.

A hat and scarf completed in Colorado (almost). (excuse the pink concrete - the camera wanted to make the colours very blue and they still are not accurate.) I knitted a lot of the hat on the drive around Estes park and through Boulder. Do you like the gauge on the scarf? That is the gauge you get from my index fingers! Since knitters (and anyone else) on planes coming out of Australia are banned from carrying knitting needles, I used my fingers. People were fascinated. It is all yarn I spun up in a wild frenzy and dyed. It was a surprise to pull it out of my bag once we were off the plane - it is really very very bright but the lighting on the plane is dim and it looked quite subtle.

I would show you the fingerless mitts I finished off (and wore on that last day when it was f-f-f-f-freezing!) but I can't find them. Helpful, not!

The pink bellflower sock continues! It is now two repeats past the heel turn. Plus I find if I ever write up the pattern, it can have a not quite matching hat! (But I'd leave off the ruffles)

Just like the exquisitely slow progress on the bellflower sock, I have little progress to show on the Jitterbug sock. I love the yarn and the idea of what I am trying to do but I had to return the book with the pattern in it to the library and now have to make it up out of my head entirely, not just mostly, and my head hurts! Plus I had to do the heel about three times cos I stuffed the pattern on it up. Argh!

My New Obsession:

A big shapeless Thing. With a big hole in it (there's actually two big holes in it and hundreds of little holes too). In pretty colours. With a socks that rock keyring as a stitch marker.

Ages ago, I fell in love with a subtle colourway called waterlilies in some merino tops dyed by a local fibre artist. This is before I started playing with dyes myself. So I bought a bit and spun it up and plied it with some pale green plain merino. Then I bought some more and some more and plied the last batch with some mauve merino plus purple silk. I ended up with about 800m of yarn that varied between a sportweight/5 ply to almost worsted/aran weight. For ages I thought I would make a shawl with it.

On the weekend, I was looking at the yarn wondering if I should sell it. But then I remembered a pattern that has fascinated me for a while, and another that sparked more interest. So I looked at how the garments were constructed and boldly set out on my own version of things. So far so good, but I have to move the arm holes out some. Plus I have to do a different edging to either of the published patterns cos I want it a bit more ruffled. I am not entirely sure that I will manage to get sleeves out of the yarn I have either. We'll see.

Anyway it is fun pretty much making up the pattern as I go along. You can't see it well yet cos it just looks like a bunched up pile of knitting. There's over 500 stitches on the needles now I think. That is a lot of stitches - more than pretty much anything I've ever made (why no, none of the wraps I have made or have waiting to be completed have had that many stitches). I expect there will be more stitches soon as I plan to increase it some more, and then more again. I also expect that the casting off will be extremely boring, particularly since I may well do it a fancy way, not the quickest way I can. I hope to get it finished by the end of the week whilst my interest levels are high and my poor fingies not scoured of their fingerprints - the yarn is very very soft but after handling it for around four hours a day, my skin is very dry (that may be something to do with washing fleece even though I usually use gloves).

Can you believe that on the day of his interview at HP, my darling husband had to wear a ROPE as a belt? (A rope supplied by his new boss, no less.) He had forgotten his belt you see. We went out and bought him a new belt that evening.

Voila! (Back off girls and boys, he's mine!)


Monday, April 09, 2007

Fort Collins, ter - picture heavy

G'day all!

We are going back into the past - it is after all nearly two weeks since I took the pics I'll show today.

Fort Collins, day three.

Oh dear. This day did not start well. We had gone out for dinner with Nathan's new team the night before. I had a lovely gluten free noodle dish. Something kept me awake until 4am. Argh! I just could not sleep. I had to flush something out of my system (and cistern) literally before I could get to sleep. If I had had anti-histamines with me it would've been easier but I didn't have any.

Over the previous couple of nights Nathan and I had both woken up about 3:30 or so. He did again that night. I never got the chance to wake up then. LOL. At last I fall asleep. Blessed blessed sleep!

6am the clock radio alarm goes off in the next room. Full bore (just like the shower in our room - the water came out so fast even on the softest setting it hurt). It sounded like someone was having a party in our room. So I go bang on the door, after putting a pair of trousers on and grabbing the room card - don't want to be running around half nekkid now *and* get locked out of the room! (But that did happen to a Prime Minister of Australia and also someone I used to work with, only the latter was TOTALLY naked having mistaken the front door for the bathroom ;-)

Bang bang bang on their door. No response. Whimper a bit cos of the unfairness of having the clock radio go off so loud in the NEXT room after only two hours sleep.

Back into our room. No button on the phone reaches reception. Stumble off down the hall, down the stairs, round the corner to reception. Whimper at the desk attendant. He goes to turn the power off.

Stumble back to room just as the radio goes off. Blessed blessed sleep!

8am. Our clock radio goes off. Dang!

Turn clock radio off.

10:08 am. Fly out of bed as if stung. Gotta be out of the room in less than an hour. Eeek!

Waking up so late blew our chances of meeting up with one of Nathan's new workmates that morning. Instead I only just had enough time to shower, pack, repack, go to hand in the room cards, realise we had left stuff in the wardrobe.... get stuff, repack and hurry off to do some shopping. Got me some new shoes and casual pants and a tshirt. Runners (trainers) in the US are ridiculously cheap compared to here and my old pair had just worn a hole in the left shoe upper. Perfect timing!

Then S picked us up for a drive. We had to be in Denver by 7pm, so we took the long route.

Did I mention that it snowed overnight? Well it did! Nathan and I were like a couple of kids running around. Snow! Terribly exciting to us. I am sure that in a year's time, assuming this all comes off, that we will cry at the sight of more snow - we will be sick of it, but currently it is New and Exciting.

So here's a few shots of the drive from Fort Collins to somewhere else, then up into the Rockies to Estes Park. We admit to a bit of lightheadedness on this trip - we are flat lowlanders here. Fort Collins is almost a mile high. Our highest mountain in mainland Australia, which I walked to once (it can't be described as climbed as it is basically the highest point in a low ridge that sticks out of a plateau), is only 2,228m (7,310'). Estes Park is at 2,293m (7,522') and is located in a bowl so you have to climb through passes to reach and leave it. It is the highest I have ever been.

We stopped at the Stanley Hotel (home of the Shining by Stephen King) for morning tea. It is a very interesting building and reminded me of the Chalet up on Mt Buffalo (one of our favourite places to go!).

We had some obligatory happy snaps of the pair of us! Hooray! Normally they are only of Nathan since I wield the camera, but S took some shots of us freezing to death.

See that grin on my face? That is a rictus, a frozen rictus. The wind was so cold that my teeth were hurting like I'd bitten into an icecream. Thank heavens that I had finished the fingerless mitts - I needed full fingered ones but fingerless ones were helped. Pity I couldn't wear them on my mouth....

We checked out the town and admired quaint houses and quainter elk feeding near the creek

and YMCA area up there. Lots of mission brown huts and cabins with all sorts of activity buildings. Great views:

and snow fell on us! So Exciting!

Do you like this pond? In winter it is used for ice skating. Not now though.

I particularly liked the dorsal fin of a very orange shark lurking in the pond... very Jaws!

After Estes Park, we drove to Boulder. Boulder had some lovely old houses in the Californian bungalow tradition, and some English style places. Plus it had Red Rocks reserve:

I think you can tell that I was muchly taken with the combination of red rocks, blue/green pines and dusting of snow.

And the Flatirons, which are a great rock climbing place (though I reckon it might've been a bit cold and slippery on this particular day).

It really started to snow more at this point - you can see the clouds setting in. It was so dim I couldn't get a good shot of snowflakes on Nathan but this bad one will do - we were delighted to see that they really are six pointed. I have only ever experienced snow in a full on blizzard, where pellets of snow hit hard and hurt.

It was a fabulous trip and we are hungry to see more! I love mountains. They and the sea are my favourite places to be. Just as well we'll have mountains then cos the sea will be a LOOOONG drive away.

S dropped us off (thanks for a great time!) and skedaddled back to his family - the snow seemed to be setting in and being out on the road is not the place to be. The flight out of Denver was exciting. It was dark and the plane had to be de-iced as slush was falling out of the sky. They had to de-ice the turbines first so that we could taxi then we sat in the queue for real de-icing (this is all fascinating to us at this stage), then we white knuckled down the runway and off up through the snowstorm. We saw Las Vegas this time - it has some really obvious flashing lights and bright colours. I waved (again) to Sknitty and Crazy Aunt Purl as we came into LA. Customs was no drama but sitting waiting for the plane.... argh, waiting waiting waiting, knowing that these seats were the most comfortable we'd have for the next 14.5 hours.

Can I just say that flying with a man who is 195cm/100kg+ (6'5" and over 220lb), and sitting next to a man who is only six foot tall but built broad is NOT fun? I had to go to my chiro cos I was a pretzel! Plus for whatever reason the flight back seems longer than the one there cos the plane is dark and even when you do manage to nap, you only manage it for an hour at a time. But at last

Blessed sunrise! Ah, sunrise on the plane. You can even see what airline we flew if you look at the big pic. Not that we chose an airline that Australians get all patriotic about, it was just the only one of two with seats available. Anyway, sunrise took forever or so it felt, since the sun was chasing us.

Oh, Lexie, who emailed me - your email address is bouncing so I can't reply. I'm not intentionally being rude.

Next time there might even be knitting content!