Monday, October 27, 2008

Spring is in the air..

Spring is in the air, and Christmas is right around the proverbial corner. While everythings getting beautiful outside, it's getting pretty overwhelming inside.

My spring knitting is going along. I'm well over halfway on my "surpise" project, but needless to say, I can't show the progress or results. That will have to wait until sometime after Christmas. Still, I'm knitting 4 peices of a garment more or less simutaneously so that I know I have enough of each color to make an equal size stripe (relative to the size of the peice) on each peice. It's going well, but slower than I would like.

I finished up the Fetching fingerless mitts. They turned out well, I think, but a bit shorter than I would like for me personally. When I make me a pair, I'll likely add some length to the body. Just a couple or 4 rows should do it, and I might still get away with using only one ball. But my cousin has daintier hands than my chubby ones, so likely they will be perfect on her.

I haven't started on anything else, although I do plan on doing a couple of beanies, time permitting. I may start one up soon, as the jumper is getting a big big to be carrying around with me, even peice by peice.

I haven't had time for much spinning lately. The only spinning at all that I've done was to ply together the two randomly Koolaid dyed rovings I had spun up a few weeks ago. They had sat there on the bobbin for a couple of weeks. I was determined to just do the knitting I needed to do, but finally I gave in to the temptation and plyed them together. Here they are right off the niddy noddy, before the wash:

They were both fairly balanced, certainly more balanced than anything I've done previously. I love the results. They are the best I've done to date. I showed them to Chris and he thought they were store bought (not that he's an expert, mind you) and asked me what it was called. I told him that I had spun it, and that it had no name, but offered to let him name them. He promptly did, dubbing them "Princess Shabooboo". The finished skeins:

The colours are rather feminine I suppose. I'm thinking of making a shirt for Kaitlyn with them.

In the last post, I promised pictures of the garden, and now I will deliver. I have some very pretty blooms going on now, and wish they would last all year.

The rose bed out front has gone a little wild, and is in serious need of a pruning, but that doesn't stop it from being very lovely:

I love this pretty pink bloom:

And a homemade bouquet I made to dress up the table on Chris' birthday:

My "mini roses" given to me by my mother in law, June:

The bottle brush bushes along the driveway:

And of course, the beautiful apple blossoms:

These pretty colors have inspired my next dyeing and spinning project, but more on that later. This post has been far to long in coming.

Friday, October 17, 2008

By the sea, by the sea...

I started a post a few days ago, and typed on it over a three day period, but it got seriously long winded and muddled. I was trying to cover such a long period of time, and as I wrote it in spurts, I was writing much more than any sane person would want to read about my life. So I've erased that epic (believe me, you would thank me if you had seen it), and decided to start fresh, letting my pictures guide me.

Given that this post covers a good two weeks, I won't give as many details as I'm prone to do. I've forgotten half of them anyway.

After my last post, I finished off the second sleeve of the "Peace in the Hood" cardigan, and then sent that project into hibernation until after I finish all my Christmas knitting. Heaven knows, I hardly going to need it for the next few months, as spring is well and truly here.

I also did a bit of dyeing on some light grey locks from the fleece that I had cleaned. They looked ok on the table, still wet from the dye:

but once they had dryed, well, the results weren't that great:

I'm thinking the darker colours did better. I used the cold pour method to dye them, and might try again dip dyeing them. Or I might just go with the greens or blues (or both) and settle for a bit of a steely, mottled effect. I'm still deciding.

I also finished spinning the two bobbins from the corridale roving I had dyed to practice my spinning colorwork with. The bobbin on the right I spun from a thick band of the roving, getting crisper colours with longer colourways. The one on the left I spun from thinner strips of the roving, and got more muted colors and shorter colourways.

They are still sitting on the bobbins next to the spinning wheel as I write this. Due to my Christmas knitting, my spinning has more or less been put on hold for a few weeks so I can "Take care of Business". I miss it already, but I do plan on taking the time to participate in my spinning study group in November, since I do have at least one of the fibres they are studying that month. I'll look forward to that, but until then, I'll be on a dyeing-preparing-spinning diet.

Early last week we took our short holiday to Port Victoria, on the beautiful Yorke Peninsula. I love it there. It's a small village, and very peaceful, even in the caravan park. We stayed in a cabin there that we always request, and have stayed in several times before. It costs more than some, but it sits right on the beach and has a lovely large veranda on the side of the cabin, which is sheltered from the worst of the ocean wind, which tends to blow up from the southwest.

I took a few pictures of the cabin this time, having the laptop and the ability, at least, to download photos if my camera got full.

So here we have the dining room, attached to the living area (a couch and TV are behind me when taking this photo):

A nice big (for a cabin) kitchen:

The master bedroom with a full size bed, linen included:

There's another bedroom with two bunk beds, which we normally use to store our luggage and such. It stayed a mess, so there's no picture of that.

And the best of the best of the cabin is it's big bathroom spa:

(there it is, Mom, the spa I'm always telling you about)

Here's part of the veiw from the living area:

and the veiw in the other direction from the veranda:

I took this picture of all of the cabins from the jetty:

While I was farting around taking photos, Chris walked off and left me:

Now of course, I took some knitting along. After much deliberation, I decided to carry one of my Christmas projects, a pair of socks I had started (on Rav, my "Candy Corn" socks). I had cast them on before we left, as they are toe up socks, and I still like to have references near me when I do the figure 8 cast on. And I'd knitted a couple of rounds on the toes, but nothing more than that. The yarn I used is the Heirloom Easy Care 8 ply that I dyed with Koolaid a while back. Having knit so many fingering weight socks lately, I was really surprised, in a pleased way, but how quickly they knit up.

I also brought along the two skeins of black and white Border Leichester that I had spun up recently, and three skeins of Sirdar Denim Ultra, a super bulky yarn I'd bought out of the bargain bin at the LYS here in town. On the first night we were there, I fiddled around some with the spun wool, hoping for inspiration, but I finally decided to make a shoulder bag from the Sirdar.

So I knit away, sitting on the veranda most of the time, smoking my fags and knitting and looking out over the ocean, and by the second afternoon, they were both coming along nicely.

I did also fool with the computer some while there, mainly trying to get used to Vista, and while I did make some progress, I'm still far from a pro with it. I like some things, like being able to search from within folders, but the general setup altogether is still confusing.

We went for walks, and a very short drive on the second day, but for the most part, we stayed at the cabin and just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. The veiw is so good, even from the inside, that you don't even fell like your wasting your time when you sit and watch TV.

But all good things must come to an end, and on the third day, we headed home. I worked on the bag on the trip home, and pretty much finished the body part of the bag, needing only the flap and the handle. The socks, by this time, were on the leg/calf section, working their way towards the cuff.

I managed, working on it a few minutes here, a few there, after a few days, to finish all of the knitting part of the bag:

And after taking them to work for a few nights, I finished the socks:

Which only goes to prove how badly work cuts into my knitting time. I managed to complete about 80% of BOTH projects in three days, but it took me almost a week and a half to finish the other 20% of them both.

This past Wednesday morning, I stayed in town to do a bit of shopping. I had been searching around on Ravelry, trying to come up with some inspiring Christmas idea when I saw the Fetching pattern. Actually, I didn't have to look too hard, as it was always listed first when I searched the mittens/gloves section. Apparently, it's the most popular pattern on Ravelry.

And, it just so happened, it had a recommended yarn that was available in Australia, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. Now I'm not stickler about using yarns other than the recommended ones, and I substitute all of the time. But this was a yarn I had really wanted to try, and here was a pattern that only took one ball.

So I stayed in town to shop. I went out to Marion Shopping Center first, as it has places to eat open early, and is a good place to pass the time before things open. I had breakfast, then went to the newsagency and bought myself Interweaves Fall 08 magazine. Then I left and went by the Needlenook and bought the yarn and another pair of Addi's to add to the collection.

The mitts will be for a Christmas present for my cousin, who, as a kid at least, loved that purplish pink colour. I've cast it on, and started enough of it that it's transportable, so it's the project that will be following me to work this week.

I'll get going properly on it tonight at work. I'm on the "easy" floor tonight, and working with the best possible person, both things conducive to a good night of knitting.

The only other project I have on the needles is my mystery project, which is coming along nicely. For reasons I can't explain here, this project is not a good traveler, so I will be working on it more or less strictly at home (unless I get into some trouble toward the end regarding time). Meanwhile, I'll be casting on my smaller Christmas projects to take to work or otherwise on the road with me.

Spring is now in full bloom in my backyard. I've gotten inspiration from my apple tree for my next dyeing project.

I'm not sure what the project will be, but I do know the hues.

Most of my plants are at their prettiest right now, but this post has been way too long in coming as it is, so I will save that for another day.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The very old, and the very new

My birthday has now come and gone. I did very very well, I do believe. But let me start where I left off, more or less, and take things in order.

After my last post, I had a couple of nights work, with a couple of days of trying to sort things out with my spinning. I worked on finishing the brown yarn, and have, by now, almost completed it. The more or less leftover slivers I have spun on two bobbins now, and will, likely, get about half a skein out of it, but as I plan on using it all, I figured spinning it all up would be a good idea. But we've seen the brown...on several occasions, so I won't include it here.

Last Friday, I came straight home from work so that I could be home just in case the laptop we had ordered for my birthday present from Chris turned up. Alas, it didn't, which in one respect is a good thing, since he would have had a hard time keeping me away from in. But it made me anxious. There is no Saturday or Sunday mail here in my part of South Australia, so that meant that either it showed up Monday, on my actual birthday, or (heaven forbid) it would be late. That didn't leave much room for error.

On Saturday, we met the inlaws at Dundee's Pub for a nice birthday lunch from their buffet. My mother in law gave me a tray, a boaty tea towel, and a card with $100 in it, which I expected more or less. That was already earmarked to be my "wireless router" money. Normally, they give me a gift certificate for one yarn shop or the other, but this year, Chris told them to just give me cash. It was a lovely lunch, but as I had worked the night before, and was about to work again that night, it was necessarily a short one.

Sunday we went to the Murray Bridge show, which was fun, but had only about half of the things they had there last year. I'm not sure why, but there you go. We did enjoy ourselves though. I bought a bag/purse type thing to replace my old one, which has seen better days, and some fudge, and nachos (a rarity around here) for lunch.

One amazing thing about the Murray Bridge show, from my perspective anyway, is an event that they call "sheaf tossing". It's an old Scottish game, apparently. A pitchfork type instrument is used to toss a "sheaf" over a pole that looks sort of like a goal post at a football game. The sheaf is bag of wheat..although I can't swear wheat is what's in there. I get the impression that it's the weight and balance of the sheaf that matters.

The idea is, you jab your pitchfork into the sheaf and swing it about a couple of times to warm up or get momentum or something:

And then you toss it over the crossbar pole:

Those who make it over the pole in this round, move on to the next round. The pole is raised a bit higher, and they start the process all over again.

It's really taken pretty seriously, and is surprisingly fun to watch. Apparently, there are teams who do this from all over the world. Some fellows from Ireland were at the MB show last year, but this year it appeared to just be the locals. Contestants range in age from their teens to seniors, but the main age range seems to be 30 to 50 somethings.

Whenever I want to think this sport odd, I just remind myself of how others see my Western Action Shooting, and I stop being so judgemental.

Just across the way from the sheaf tossing was the old standby, my favorite in any show, the sheep dog competition. Here's one brave working doggy going thru the paces:

I find these dogs pretty amazing, really, and their trainers as well, since I could never get a dog to do anything it didn't want to really. I admire their patience and skill.

I think though, what we had the very MOST fun watching was this thing they did this year, and I have no idea what they were calling it, that was sort of like kneeboard skiing on the grass. The teams were made up of four. One had to ride the kneeboard, while the other three pulled the ropes and drug that person on the board across the grass along a course, then turned (and could switch board riders at this point) and drug the rider back to the start.

It was an absolute hoot. I don't know who made this game up, but it was clear everyone participating was amatuers. The cursing, the falling, the was hysterical. It was, in short, the best time I had at the show this year.

After all of this gaity, I wandered into the crafts building. I looked around a bit at all the lovely fleeces (prize winning and otherwise):

I just love to wander amongst the fleeces, and I can't keep my fingers off. I do restrain myself though, because what I'm really tempted to do is roll around in them all.

I then paid a visit to the booth set up by the Murray Bridge Spinners and Weavers Guild.

These ladies proved to have a marvelous sense of humour and no small amount of skill! I was most impressed with one ladies little bear she was making with a hot felting method. A very interesting craft, but as I later told Chris, probably not one I would be any good at. It looked as though you must have some sort of artistic talent to pull it off, as it was essentially a little felt sculpture.

I had a chat with them, told them I was a fairly new spinner, and they invited me around to visit them on Wednesday afternoons when they meet. I could go every other week at least, as that would work well with my work scedule. I can't wait to pay them a visit, but it will probably be after the school holidays now before I will get a chance to. I DO plan to go though. They were so friendly and inviting, how could I NOT want to go.

Which brings me to Monday, my actual birthday. I was off work Sunday night, so I had a good nights sleep and was up bright and early in the morning. Chris was up early too, as he was spending the day preparing for his upcoming boating outing with workmates. We also both had in mind that the delivery truck might come early, as it often does here, and we didn't want to miss it.

I had no idea who "the deliverer" was going to be. AusPost always..ALWAYS...shows up between 8 o'clock and 9:30 in the morning, but when 10 o'clock came and went, I was starting to get a wee bit nervous. I hadn't given up yet though. I pottered around the house as best I could. I got on the computer and checked my mail, and I had a fantastic birthday email from my youngest son, so sweet it almost made me cry.

My mom then got online and caught me on MSN and told me she was about to call. She had sent me a present, and it had arrived about a week before, but I hadn't opened it yet. I opened it while we talked on the phone. Now I had given her some pretty specific ideas of what I wanted, and she didn't fail me in the least. In the package I found a lovely dress for me to wear during the Western Action shoots, something very difficult to find here in Australia:

I was pleased as punch, and as you can see, it fits! Even the length is just right, which is a rarity for me, short as I am.

Later, Chris was in the kitchen, preparing a dinner that he was going to take on the outing with him when the phone rang. Consequently, I answered the phone, something I don't do often if Chris is's always for him. It was the delivery fellow, checking to make sure I was home. He must have heard the delight in my voice, I was over the moon when I told him to come on and hurry.

The laptop arrived and I could barely contain myself. It seems silly almost that I should be so excited over something, and yet I was terribly excited. I wanted to rip into the box, but contained myself and opened it carefully. Inside was my beautiful yellow Dell laptop! I loved it at first site:

I got it out, plugged it in, turned it on, unplugged it and let it run on batteries, and generally poked and prodded it, learning where it's bits were located and generally what I could do with it. It runs Vista, and I've never worked on Vista before, so that's a learning curve I'm still dealing with. I can't tell you if I like it or don't yet. I'm still not used to it though.

I still had yet to get a wireless router. I only got the money Saturday, and Sunday we went to the show, and both were workdays, so I simply hadn't gotten it done. So an hour or two after getting the laptop, I loaded it up gently and took it to town with me. I had originally planned to shop for the router in Mt Barker, particularly at Harvey Normans, but at the last minute I decided to look in Murray Bridge first. I do prefer to shop local, but mainly I just wanted to get it and get my new toy online ASAP.

So I went down to Bridge Computers and found just what I needed for only $75 dollars. Now I knew they had one on sale in Mt Barker for around $60, but once you factored in fuel costs to get there and back, I would have only broken even and wasted time. So I bought this Netgear Wireless Router G :

and brought it home.

When I got home, Chris was on the desktop computer, which I needed, of course, to hook up the router. I pretended to be patient, and indeed, I did have other things that needed attention, but I was less than patient in my heart. I'm glad now, though, that I was, because Chris gave me a shout soon and said that Justin, my oldest son, was online and looking for me. So I talked to Justin through Chris' MSN and he wished me a happy birthday! I was so happy to hear from him!

I told him about the computer and the router and what I had to do and how badly I wished he was here to do it for me. He's so good at things like that, and always used to program my TV's and VCR's and hook all the cable thingies. I miss him dreadfully all the time, but particularly at times like these.

He assured me that it would be easy as eating cake, and after we finished our conversation, I found out that he was absolutely right. I had these awful images of ISP numbers and having to delve into those remote areas of the computer that I hate to deal with, but in the end, all I had to do was run a disk and bingo bango, I was online and wireless! I was stoked.

So, of course, the very next thing I did was take my new laptop outside, and make sure the range made it to the veranda, where I am banished to smoke my nasty fags when Chris is home. It worked! I was sitting in the beautiful South Australian sunshine typing away in Ravelry! WHAT A GAS! I trotted around the rest of the house then, testing it in every room. I don't think I put the computer down for the rest of the evening. I took it outside every cigarette. I set it up on my table while I sat on the couch watching TV with Chris. I even sat right there and checked the TV guide online for him, because the TV book that he had had "TBA" written under one timeslot. So cool!

Monday night, I even took it to work. Work that night, however, was an absolute mess, the details of which I'd rather not relive, so I didn't even get it out of the bag, much less get to know it better. But still, like a security blanket, it was there.

The next couple of days were more work and very little play, but today, finally, I have time off and can enjoy it to my satisfaction. I went this morning, and bought a cordless mouse for it:

which hasn't exactly improved the computers performance, but more my performance on it. I've never like the little "fingerpad" navigation on a laptop, and with this mouse, all I have to do is plug a little gadget into the USB port and wahhhlahhh, the mouse does the rest. Much, much better!

Over my day off, I've picked up the spinning again, and finally moved on from the ever lasting brown. I took out the roving I had dyed with koolaid recently, and began to spin it, keeping the colors in sections:

I've managed to get almost a bobbin full so far, and I like the way it looks. I might do the second bobbin with the colors reversed, starting on the other end of the roving, and then see how that plies together. Or maybe finally do that Navaho plying. I haven't made up my mind yet.

I took the picture at the very top of this post to show how my little section of the living rooms looks right at this minute. On reflection, what an interesting picture. The very old craft of spinning blended, right in my living room, with the present day advanced technology. It rather boggles the mind when I think of it.

I've done a bit of knitting, and almost finished off the sleeve to the CPH. I only like about an inch of knitting in pattern and then the shoulder shaping. I'm going to try and finish that off tonight, and also do the maths for an upcoming project that will remain nameless, that I will start on in the next couple of days. I've also started another Christmas project, but in the name of surprises, I will not post about it here. I will, however, have them up on Ravelry soon.

I have to work all weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and then I'm off for 3 days. We are leaving out Tuesday morning for a short 2 day trip to Port Victoria, which is my favorite place on earth. We have rented a seaside cabin there, and I plan to knit by the sea, and perhaps even take my spindle and a bit of fibre to try and hone my spindle skills (which are sorely lacking).

My laptop will be taking it's maiden holiday trip, but I'm fairly certian the cabins we are staying in don't have internet access. But I'll make do. I've downloaded my Scrabble game and some card games, an audio book and my Canon camera's download program, so I will have bits to do on it. I've also thought I might write my blog on there, each day as things happen, and then transfer the data to here when I get back and get online. Ah, the possibilities!