Thursday, December 31, 2009

Knitting redux 2009

G'day all!

Happy New Year! Happy New decade!

I thought last year was a fairly fertile knitting year but it appears I knitted no more items than the year before, according to Flickr. 39 in 2008, 39 in 2009.

However, there are four or five items for which I have no photos. So that makes 43 or 44 FOs. Admittedly some of those items were, for example, two pairs of fingerless mitts for children but I think a pullover for Nathan well and truly balances that ;-)


I've already started on this year's knitting. I'm knitting a hat in some yarn that is new to me - Sirdar's baby bamboo. I thought this might be a good yarn for chemo hats but it feels vaguely prickly against my wrist and neck. It might settle with a wash. Ah well, I'll find out sooner or later I guess!

The weather has been totally amazing here over the last 24 hours or so. A big change blew through at around 9pm, bringing a fantastic natural light show and a dumping of rain. 25mm (an inch) at our current residence, 40mm at the PiL's. It's been an odd, dull sort of day today finished off with another amazing thunderstorm. I've been trying to get some of the flashes on my camera but no dice, not even with a 10s exposure. (I am so peeved that Canon has taken away the manual exposure controls on pretty much all of its point and shoot digital cameras. When ours breaks properly - the battery door doesn't shut properly now - I won't have another to replace it with.) This evening, there's been lightning forks covering a good eighth of the sky. Totally wow! I reckon there's been lightning every two minutes, sometimes more often and a number of the flashes have triggered a chain reaction across half the sky.

Makes one glad to be alive :-)


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last FOs for 2009

G'day all!

I finished up some projects overnight and today. It's been good knitting weather - stinking hot (close to 100F/38C with a wind from a furnace) and gosh I admit to enjoying the air conditioning at various places. Good knitting weather, as I said. As long as you have air con. Even without air con you need to do something apart from perish.

You need to see pics of DH's new jumper/sweater.


All handspun (by me!), roughly 1500m of it.


The green was all hand carded by me from some corriedale cross fleece I bought at Black Sheep Gathering back in June. I used a substantial amount of the fleece dyed with Kelp from Landscape dyes in this jumper, blended with some moorit Bond Corriedale, some of the CVM Missy's black fleece, some yellow/green dyed fleece and some orange top. The same orange hand-dyed top that made up the contrast came from oh dear, umm, lady in Wyoming, Sheila, of Sheep Shed Studio?


This is a very well travelled jumper already. It went to Europe in September, back to the US, then to Australia in October, then back to the US in November, and back home again in December. It is now shorter than in its first incarnation and I've created a lining for the neckband - it was already showing signs of gaping due to the sheer weight of the yarn.


I (re)created the scrolling vines pattern from some pics of projects I found on Ravelry, then I reversed it for the second band of pattern. There's 14 repeats in the first band and 10 in the second. And if you look at the chart I used, I changed the in between pattern too from a checkerboard to a zigzag.


I am rather pleased with it and so is DH. He was cold on Christmas Day (there was a nice sea breeze blowing at my brother's place) and found the jumper was right on the money for staying warm.

I've also finished this month's socks from my personal sock club and a scarf. And I finally tied in the ends of the hat I was knitting for my second youngest niece for her birthday, nearly two weeks ago. Ahem!

Now I've started on a hat in a 80% bamboo, 20% wool blend, see how that goes. It feels lovely so far. Tomorrow I can start on a new pair of socks. Hmm, that means picking patterns or just knitting plain socks. I have to show off the new lovely sock yarn Dreamcatcher gave me, along with the newest FOs. Plus I should do a show of all the things I've knitted this year. There's heaps!

Wishing you and yours a fantastic New Year.


Funny Christmas photo

G'day all!

I just had to share this most horrid photo of me with you.

(this photo really needs a caption but I've not got much opportunity to run a contest at present - most of my stash is probably still in Oakland and we have to be a little careful with our money at present)

I'm probably spinning a yarn. I hope I am spinning a yarn (telling a story). I may be yelling at my father in law for using the flash on my camera in broad daylight. Just as well the wind didn't change!

Note the ginormous hands. I think I got them from Pop. He was done with them and I needed some, etc etc.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Still kicking

G'day all!

I hope you all had lovely Christmases! Even better, all your Christmases came at once!

I had two Christmases - one on Christmas Day at my brother's place, then one on the 27th at the PiLs'. Both were very nice days with lots of food. My brother was having two Christmas dinners on the same day - one with his side of the family, then one in the evening with my sister's in law family. She had the place all cleaned up and ready for the next invasion by 4pm. How organised! So I have eaten well.

I must send a big shout out to my MiL. She has put up with us and fed us every day for the last week or more. I appreciate it and I guess that Nathan does as well.

We've had a few nice sunsets along the way - hope I've not shown the pic before!

I have to show off the Christmas knitting I've done but I have to redo some of it and also the laptop has nowhere to download the pics AGAIN. It needs a bigger hard disk. I only got three items done in time - Nathan's socks, Nathan's jumper/sweater and a scarf for my sister in sin. I have to show off my lovely Chrissy prezzies from Dreamcatcher too :-) But not today. That is them in the shot below, all wrapped up and ready to be discovered.


As for the bad health stuff? Heck, I am enjoying have a body that is still whole. After the surgeons get done with it, it ain't going to be whole any longer. I may indeed be rather lopsided. Plus I won't be able to lift anything with my right arm for MONTHS, hopefully not years, afterwards cos I don't want lymphoedema.

(At least Cheshire seemed pleased)

This whole thing has really been a bit of a shock on top of the move from the US. I miss various things there, not the least of which was a certain degree of carefreeness - I didn't have a nasty diagnosis there! But I am not missing the weather there - it says cold and raining currently. I miss various friends and the regular things we used to do, like going to knit night on Fridays and the Coop on Sunday and the farmers' market. We had ourselves set up so we could walk or bike to everything we needed/wanted to do. The local SnBs here in Melbourne are not very local - I either have to get the train into town or drive the car half an hour. Walking was so much nicer! But here I am amongst family and friends and I know (relatively) how to navigate various government things and deal with bureaucratic stuff and not fear that if I screw it up I'll be chucked out of the country and not allowed to return. Plus my health care here is unlikely to bankrupt us. Plus Nathan can get a job without needing a visa. I won't be getting a job for a while - we'll have to see how I go!

So I am not dead yet, I may be working on it but aren't we all? I know it is going to get worse before it gets better but I am aiming for better, just not for a while. I'll be happy with survivable for the nonce.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tawny frogmouths

G'day all!

Starting to get over the initial shock of my new diagnosis and status. Now I have to wait for the next step in January. Thank you all for the encouraging words. I hope I can, ahem, live up to your expectations :-)

But much more exciting this evening was this:


taken on my PiL's balcony. That is a tawny frogmouth. They are not at all endangered (they seem to have worked out how to live with humans and their cities) but it is still lovely to see them.

We only went looking cos they seemed to be saying 'hip hip HOORAY!' which seemed a little odd quite frankly. MiL thought they would be possums (proper possums not this opossum stuff that is quite frankly a little scary - I rode past a dead, bloated up one once and it was about as big as a medium sized dog!) having an argument. No, instead it was three tawny frogmouths. Two were flying around together and a third was trailing along. They looked like gargoyles on the roof nextdoor. They were all talking to each other, making an odd groaning noise (which sounded like hip hip horray to me 8-). We think mum and dad are throwing junior out of the nest. No more free dinners for you mate! You gotta go find your own!


Horrible shot but see the amber eye?

I bought myself a teddy bear today - I decided I needed a Special Friend with soft fluffy fur to help me through the bad patches. I used to have MyLion but I think he had an accident when he was in the garage with the other soft toys and the rats moved in.... MyLion had the best tail evah! It was perfect for rubbing up and down in your hand. Suggestive as well! This morning I had to hang onto my travel pillow and interesting as it is to feel (lycra one side, short plush fur on the other side and teensy polystyrene beads on the inside), it just doesn't cut it for friendliness. (Maybe I should put eyes and a face on it?) So a teddy bear it is. And he only cost $3 from the Reject Shop! (I would've accepted a whole range of critters but none of them spoke to me until I saw this bear.)


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The good and the bad

G'day all1

I shall start with the good.

I scored some Sundara sock yarn before I left the US. It came home with me on the plane.

sundara_dark sundara_mint

(I can't remember their names but the dark one is almost colour-correct and the light one is wrong but I can't be bothered wrangling the colour correction stuff any longer.)


Plus I got a lovely parcel from Dreamcatcher but that is for Christmas. So exciting! And nearly all the parcels I sent myself from the USA have arrived.

Plus I worked out a nice pattern for the yoke of Nathan's pullover and it is coming up pretty well. I have hopes that I will have the thing finished for Christmas.

The bad news? The tests came back positive. Unpleasantly positive. If anyone wants to know what a mammogram and biopsy are like, let me know and I'll get back to you - my online presence is flakey still (rather like me at the moment!). I will face a long and hard road over the next few months. Surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, in some order or another. I feel a little bitter. Welcome back home, Merry Christmas and here's a dose of a dread disease for you and yours to cope with! (I hate that I know enough about breast cancer to be scared witless. I told the doctor I'll be lucky to get to the appointment with the specialist given I'm likely to have a heart attack before I get there.) Given my private health cover is pretty low level, I'll be finding out how good the public health system really is! So far I'm $120 out of pocket for 3 dr's visits, the scans and the biopsies, and the bill for the histology hasn't arrived. Or we will be paying a bit for private health care. When we have no real income apart from Nathan's payout. Crappers! I think I should write up those patterns I've been sitting on (if I can find the notes now that we have moved) and get someone(s) to test knit them.

Back to knitting Nathan's jumper frantically. I should take some pics of it. Heaven knows we have plenty of sunlight here at the moment (though not right now - the sun set 40 mintues ago).


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Still flakey

G'day all!

We are still on pretty flakey ground with the DSL (though we are told that it will be fixed by close of business tomorrow). I've got a heap of pics to upload but our link keeps dying and sometimes revives again by itself but mostly we have to perform artificial resuscitation on the router... Also I am not sure that we have a big dataplan - I might have to hie me around to the PiLs and upload stuff from there (they definitely have a big limit cos hello, BiL plays online games...). Hey, speaking of BiL, did I mention that I am going to have a new SiL? BiL proposed to his girl a few weeks ago. No longer will I have a SiS (sister in sin), nope she will be a SiL!

Not much is happening here. Yesterday was deucedly hot - 100F on the old scale, today it is 11C at the moment after a cold change and lots of rain blew through. Ah Melbourne, how I love your weather.


Tomorrow I have to go have some medical tests. I am hoping that it isn't bad news but well I gotta do the tests first. If it is? Well Merry Christmas to you too and we'll deal with it as it comes (along with a lot of running around in circles and panicking). And I am on antibiotics for the cough I have - the doc said I needed them to clear the infection that is stopping me from breathing easily. (Getting puffed just walking quickly up a ramp at the railway station? Like really!) I am already breathing more easily and also my sinuses are clearing. Hooray!

I've been knitting frantically on Nathan's pullover. I promised him one for Christmas last year but couldn't find the dyes for the yarn I bought. This year I've dyed and spun some yarn for it - yep, a whole large man-size pullover. Alas I keep stuffing up the sleeves and not increasing often enough. I am vaguely following a pattern and it is quite clear that I am vaguely, not precisely, following it. Otherwise I would have finished both the sleeves rather than ripping them back (three times). Fourth time's a charm? At least I've finished the body. It awaits its arms and the yoke. I only have a week to finish it. If I had not kept stuffing up the sleeves I would be well onto the fair isle part by now.


Just over a week to Christmas! How on earth did that happen? I am sorry that I have not had the opportunity to send cards and presents to various of you out there. I hope that you forgive me! And I've missed a couple of birthdays too.

And it is almost a week since we left the US. I miss some parts of it, I certainly miss having my own space though it is nice hanging with M. It is good to be home, minus certain stressors. Christmas with family, seeing friends (sooner or later I'll catch up with more of them). We are planning what we want to do with our house - I might even start blogging on my house blog since I may well have things to talk about on it. The Modest Manor will rise again!

Pics are from Lake June (and surrounds) in the Sierra Nevada near Mammoth Lake and Mono Lake. I wish I had seen this place in midsummer! It was gorgeous in early spring.


Monday, December 14, 2009


G'day all!

Sorry for the radio silence but our net connection is a bit flakey (hardly worked at all for the first couple of days, now is working and I'm taking advantage of it!).

We are Home! Hooray for Home! We are staying with a friend who lives 5 minutes' walk away from our place, which of course is still occupied by our house sitters.

This trip's handy hint for travellers is: make sure you have enough time to make the transfer between planes, especially when transferring between an internal/domestic flight to an international flight on a different airline. We didn't book our tickets - they were booked for us and we had a scant two hours layover at LAX. That is not enough time to transfer between terminals and get into the international flight. We have brickbats and kudos for Southwest - brickbats for their excess luggage charges ($50 per overweight bag, $50 per bike, $200 charge all up, yikes!) and kudos for them getting us on an earlier flight which meant we did not miss our Qantas flight back home. If we had taken the original flight, which was running 45 minutes late due to bad weather, we would have arrived an hour before our plane was due to take off. But Southwest pushed us onto a plane that was a full two hours earlier and we had plenty of time.

No pics today, not that I don't have any to share but this laptop now has two people jockeying for turns on it, when the net works, and I've not had a chance to edit or upload any. So later!


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

She gone!

G'day all!

Our stuff has gone! Now we just have the detritus of a life lurking around us. It is quite quite amazing how much Stuff we packed into a 750sq ft flat. I am rather good at spatial stuff, if I do say so myself. When it comes to packing a car boot (trunk) I can get a lot more stuff in than Nathan can.

I didn't have a good night's sleep. We were up until after one am last night and I worried worried worried that we had Too Much Stuff (I forgot to take a pic of the mound of boxes...) until nearly 4am. Then I woke up at 7:30 (am!) and the removalists rang at 7:40... I don't think I'll be much good today!

It is sorta sad looking around at all our stuff or what remains of it, the sad bits, the big bits, the stuff that we just plain can't take with us.


Thank you to all those who have helped us dispose of stuff. I hope it brings you joy, happiness and/or peace. Or at least is useful.

So in two days, I have to have the place emptied out. It has to be clean. Tomorrow is The Big Day, where I box up the remaining food (that I can't eat cold or uncooked) and either take it to the food bins at the supermarkets or freecycle it or give it to friends. I have to dispose of the crockery and the mixing bowls and and and... Bathroom stuff must disappear. At least there is only one computer now so DH will not be distracted all the time (that will be my job!).

I would like to get another pair of runners before we leave and Nathan needs new shoes too. I shall take him to one of the el cheapo outlet type shops nearby and see if anything is suitable. I am not sure where they will fit in our luggage, mind you! It is quite difficult trying to get the remains of our lives into two suitcases. I'll be airmailing some stuff back I know. Or we can get another bag and pay $150 for excess luggage. We've already got two bikes to ship back with us (I hope they fit into the boxes!).


So enough blathering. I've decreased the amount of fleece by a lot and only have stuff to flick out and send to myself now. We've still got a hmm-hmm load of stuff to freecycle or get rid of (some promised, but not much!). That is what the recycle dumpster is for - you put stuff by it and people come and take it!


Monday, December 07, 2009

Getting there

G'day all!

Things are coming together!

Tomorrow our cargo leaves.


We have sorted out the money problem.

We have decreased the amount of Stuff in our place but OMG I have a LOT of Stuff to get rid of yet, and clean up before we have to pack the rest of our cargo. I hope I have not packed too much - I don't think so at this stage.


I may have packed too little, just looking around the place! Nathan has to get off his butt and pack his stuff but that means losing his computer. We know how much he wants to pack that away!

Oh dear. It is 20 past one in the morning and we think we have only one box to pack, the box of randomness that takes the last lot of anything that we realise OH CRAP! Forgot that! Forgot to pack that! Oh my, the fridge magnets!

Crap. have to sacrifice my bright rainbow umbrella. Ah well. I can get another one back home...


Friday, December 04, 2009

Certainty at last

G'day all!

Well we have tickets back to Oz. Dangit, if we had chosen the 9th, we'd be on another A380. Yes, they are better than jumbos. More space, less noise, higher cabin pressure. That adds up to less jetlag. But we are still leaving on a jet plane (don't know when we'll be back again).

The cargo is booked in to be taken away on the 8th, I hope. I sent the form and the credit card off yesterday. I've just sent off an email to make sure it was received - I hate not getting any form of acknowledgement on these sorts of things. OK, it's acknowledged.

I have soooo many things to fix up.

And today I am going for a drive before I sell the car tomorrow. I need to get out of the house before the last round of packing frenzy hits and the freecyclers start coming through the revolving door. I need to go say goodbye to some places, have one last drive on that crazy end of Skyline Boulevard, the little narrow windy unsealed bit that clings to the side of the hill.

We've also run out of money. Everyone wants us to pay them before we leave. The $4000 to break the lease is the real killer but $1900 to move our crap home, paid up front, is also hurting. Especially since Nathan's old work owes us over a thousand for various things we paid for on that work trip back in September and also visa stuff.

A lot of little things are killers at present. Even things like stuff I've ordered online has only just shipped yesterday or today, even though I ordered them over a week ago. Except the Knitpicks, which arrived three days after I placed my order. The MOO cards were due to be shipped on Monday and only shipped today. I ordered them so I could give them to friends here before we left. Now they will hardly arrive before we leave.

Whilst I think of it, does anyone want a copy of CEY's "Make it Modern" for $10 or a copy of "Knitting in the Sun" for $15? Cos someone known as me managed to buy TWO of each of them. And I can't return them cos I bought them from local LYSs which have a non-return on books policy.

Did I ever show you guys my current quilt top? I am only a month or two behind everyone else in the quiltalong (travel and moving will do that to a person).


This one is going straight to the pool room! I am trying to figure out whether to mail it back or take it home in the luggage. I am just a bit worried about how much luggage I will end up with. We have to take the bikes home on the plane too. That will cost us a bit but better than not having transport for weeks...

Time to quit fussing and go for a drive.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Flying out the door

G'day all!

My heart is a little heavy this morning. Our stuff is flying out the door. I'm freecycling stuff. So far this week, I've given away about $300 of stuff. I hate giving away good stuff but I hate throwing it out more.

I have no idea why I am attached to my stuff.

Some of it, actually pretty much all of the stuff that has gone so far, came home either on the back of my bike or in the bike trailer. Maybe that is why I am attached to it.

The cherry red round Black and Decker electric kettle was very popular. Lots of people wanted it even though one of the windows leaks sometimes and not others. I'm pretty sure I bought that kettle in Target up in the "market" area of San Jose (it isn't a market any longer). It came home on the bike - the box just fits in a shopping pannier.

(Grand Teton NP)

The silicone gloves - no attachment to them! I hooked them out of the dumpster, along with a plastic fishtank set. Both of those were extremely popular.

The box fan that came home I think in the bike trainer. Maybe on the back of Nathan's bike. The little fan that I brought home. VOOM! Gone!

Someone even came and took away all the African Violets and other gesneriads yesterday. The house seems so bare without my poor neglected babies. (We were away two weeks longer than the water supply so they looked pretty ratty but all bar two perked up very well.) (The house isn't really empty at all - really not empty at all just piles of stuff everywhere.)

Anyway, all the disruption means it is real, that we are going.

I think I will have to teach Nathan how to flick fleece. He is bored, has nothing to do. I am running around like a hairy goat working out which parts of fleeces I can keep, which ones have to go. At least the yarn is sorted now.

Oh and after TWO and a half YEARS in the US, I think I finally scored myself some Sundara yarn last night. Amazing, eh?

(Happier times in the Grand Teton NP)

It isn't that I am not happy with going Home, I just don't like leaving places. Especially when I have to do a hmm-hmm load of work to get us out the door. I'm settled here, now I have to unsettle myself and move back Home. Home is lovely. There's much to commend it. Here has been lovely too - right now fall colours all around, brilliantly clear days (except last Friday which was a fantastic Spring day in Melbourne - driving rain one minute, sun shining the next, rinse, repeat), crisp temps (only fridge temp outside currently)....

Ah well. What is done is done. And we are almost all done here. Only the last packing and de-stuffing and goodbyes to go. And running around screaming getting stuff onto a boat.



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Worst FO shots evah!

G'day all!

You know what I said about those socks? That I couldn't finish them?


Ta-dum! That's a shot taken in front of the laptop last night. It is one of the worst FO shots ever. But I don't care! Those pics will do, might have to do forever until I have time to get better ones. Currently I don't have time.

By the time I got the camera to cooperate (ie I remembered to change the colour settings and managed to get the reflections of the lamp out of the clock corner of the screen), it was 23:58PST. But I finished them at 11:56PM, even wove in the ends! Honest!


Yarn: old Vesper self striping, "Fire in the Sky"
Pattern: my own, a chevron pattern, ever popular for self striping yarns, over 78 stitches ont he foot and some ungodly number like 86 on top. Though I didn't count.

These socks kicked my butt last week. Man. They really had me stymied. Last night, having done one of them, the second one? One round I counted out where everything had to go (k4, yo, k4, k2tog,k2, ssk, k4... etc, oh crap I need to knit five between the increases and decreases. OK!) and the next round just worked out fine! I had tried charting it, counting it, everything! But this time around It Just Worked.

Now I have no active knitting projects. I do have a scarfy thing to finish off (not happy with it but that is ok cos it is a gift and will probably be appreciated by the receiver) and Nathan's pullover but that is awaiting me to make more yarn (even though I have enough for the sleeve that is not yet knitted. No I don't know why I'm not knitting it either). I do have a sock project for this month, if I can find it in the mess.

Thanks to those who have been commenting along the way, sorry if I am not greatly responsive (unless you want fleece! Then I *love* you! LOL I need to find homes for my babies). I am stressing out of my nut, though last night's pressure knitting was great - something to get excited about that had a definite end time to it.

Hmm, you know two or three months ago I was wondering if I would miss this place when I went back home. I think I am going to. I have developed a nice little lifestyle here. We have social things we go and do on certain days, a nice routine, downtown is walking distance away and it is a nice downtown (we have two "downtowns" within walking distance at Home but they are not really very nice). I can ride off to various places to do the shopping or get Stuff, or hop on the bus. My fave shopping places at home are more than a bike ride away, though two of the local supermarkets have had significant upgrades and now may be suitable (they were crappy dumpy little holes without much gluten free stuff before - like where other places carried three varieties of a certain brand, they wouldn't carry any!). But they won't carry much organic stuff cos Oz has not hopped on that bandwagon, not like California anyway.

On the other hand, I'll have a garden and cats at home, and old friends and my family. There is an upside to everything!

It will be interesting, integrating back into life at Home.