Friday, 24 September 2010

so where's it moved to?

I went this morning into the city.  I was planning on looking through Lincraft in their city shop in the lower ground floor level of the Queen Victoria Building.  Nothing.  Just nothing.  The sign outside is now blank. Part of the area which was on the entry level is now Supre which is also upstairs on street level.  The bottom level is empty and dark.  No signs, no nothing.  I was there not so long ago.

Three grandchildren will be here for some hours tomorrow evening and I thought I'd try to find something different for them to do.  I toyed with the idea of catching the nearby bus to Sp*tli*ht at Drummoyne but could not bring myself to do it.  A horrible shop with what have always been rude assistants who know nothing about what they sell.  The Auburn shop is much better and I've always found the assistants to be helpful and pleasant there. Unfortunately it's not very easy to get to without a car.

So I walked back to Town Hall Woolworths to find gluten free snacks for them.  One is coeliac and the others eat gluten free for convenience.  Lots of Macro brand.  Woolworths took over Macro last year.  Macro at Hornsby was a large shop with a good collection of products, lots of flours, organic vegetables, a pleasant little café and more.  Organic meats and chicken too.  After taking over, Woolworths ads announced something like, "Now you can buy Macro products at Woolies."  Yes, indeed, a tiny percentage of what Macro used to sell and the original shop has been closed.  As you can see, I appear to have got out of bed on the wrong side this morning.

Not helped by conveyancing lawyer  (from his solicitors) ringing me to say that when the house is sold, he will be asking for the 10% deposit to be released to him and for my share to come from proceeds after settlement.  What???  He wants to buy somewhere and needs that money then.  Well, I'm looking too.  Only I'm sensible.  I won't be actually deciding on somewhere until I have cash in hand.  I am looking to see what's around and how expensive it is.  I'm looking in several areas, including a couple of towns out of Sydney.  I rang my solicitor who will sort matter out.  I have said he can have 50% only which is all he's entitled to.  I was told he would not be happy with that.  He wants it all then and for me to be kept waiting  Too bad.  He can wait as I will do.  I'm wondering if he's already committed himself to a purchase and is caught up in time constraints.  Too bad again.  The house will go for quite a lot of money, so the 10% deposit is a fairly substantial amount too.

This somewhat shapeless lump of knitting is actually a dark green asymmetrical vest.  It should be on a bigger circular.  I'm happy with the way it's shaping up from my ideas and a few sums, but I'm putting it away till next autumn, I think.  I won't need it before then and my fingers  are made worse by the big needles when the arthritis flares.  The lacy part  is a panel on just the overlapping front.

Some time ago I found MBT shoes.  They are based on making the foot walk as the Masai do on sandy soil in Africa.  Very heavy and way out of my price range.  Then I found that Skechers make a similar shoe called In-Shape. The arthritis has been flaring lately, you can see the swelling on my right foot and ankle.  I need to walk for exercise but I need to be able to walk.  I tried these on, they are available in Williams shoe shops and some of  the shops selling different sports shoes.

They are blissfully padded even more than my years old Rockports which are still quite good.  The funny looking shape of the sole is extremely comfortable to walk on, although when I just stood still after first buying them, I felt off balance.  I wore them for only a short time for the first few days.

They promote a different style of walking.  The heel comes down and the foot rolls over the curve to be pushed off again from the toes.  It's strange at first but soon becomes  automatic.

Leg and thigh muscles are definitely being stretched and exercised and I can feel the muscles moving differently up to my waist.  They were  not cheap, almost $200, but if they keep me moving and exercising, I think it's worth it.  I can't stay home and not move, that would have an ultimately negative effect on me and the arthritis.  I'm also finding that walking is a good stress relief - another reason for walking.

When I brought them home I was watching the DVD which comes with them.  It speaks of walking on sand.  I was reminded that my mother was told to take me to the beach as a toddler to walk on dry sand as it was an extremely good exercise.  I spent several months in hospital just after I turned one and had lost a good deal of muscle tone when I was released.  So perhaps the sand idea really has something in it.

There's no chance of slipping when wearing these shoes.   Just look at the soles, bumps, cleats, sprigs, ridges.  Very definitely not-slip.  There's a lace-up style.  Williams have a cheaper range in brighter colours but the quality did not appeal to me at all.

Monday, 20 September 2010

the good news and the bad

It's been a strange week.  Again, not a lot of knitting this week.  This time I have a reason.  The arthritis in my hands has been bad and my thumb is still quite swollen.  I've done just enough knitting to give the fingers some exercise but have had to stop before the pain was aggravated.  It's also been bad again in my feet and under the instep is quite swollen.

We've had another break in here, but this one has been very peculiar.  This townhouse is the seventh in a group of nine.  It has three floors above ground and a very large garage underneath which has internal access from  the house, down nearly twenty steps.  Like the townhouses, the garages are in a row, well underground, accessible only from the house or through a main heavy security door which is operated only by a remote control.  That door has not been tampered with in any way at all.  The dogs next door which sleep in their garage did not bark as they were still outside on that night.  They bark at any disturbance.

However, last Wednesday, the temporary boarder here came up saying the garage had been entered.  The walls of each garage are concrete block but the door is perforated and can be seen through with a bit of peering.  Ours is used as storage. A lot of my stuff is there in boxes.  DIL has craft stuff and said boarder has a small area where he watches TV on a fairly new, enormous flat screen TV which can't be seen from the doorway.

We went down to find the perforated metal had been cut with a knife or tinsnips around the handle and on each side where it was bolted.  Stuff was on the floor but very little had been taken.  There was opportunity to take tools, electrical goods, the TV etc.  All that seems to have gone was food!  There are two small fridges down there, one belonging to the boarder.  It had bread in the freezer, and three plastic packs of frozen wontons which he makes into soup for himself with powdered stock.  Not my sort of stuff at all. The bread has gone, the wontons are gone and apparently a couple of bottles of wine. Nothng else.  Very, very odd.

DIL and I have a theory but son tells us not to speculate.  Last Monday evening was wet here.  The young guys house sharing the place next door wanted to BBQ.  So they took the BBQ to the garage and totally filled our place with smoke.  Boarder and I were the only people at home and he told them BBQs were for backyards.  I'm quite sure he used much stronger words than that.  He has an abrasive personality and I hope he moves out soon.  Son's doing him a favour till he gets a settled job.  Our guess is that the guys were probably fairly well primed with alcohol and didn't take kindly to Andrew's suggestion.  We think it was a form of retaliation.  Nothing else has been touched, nor any other garage in the main area.  Very, very odd.  If someone was desperate for food they would have taken things they could have pawned  for money to buy food.  Loads of local pawn shops here.  We've had to repair door and beef up the locks.

The good news?  Spring definitely is here now and today is beautiful.

More good news?  I attended a lovely wedding on Saturday of two young people who've both had a bit of a rough time in life. It was a beautiful wedding in a beautiful church.  I cried.  My friend gave the address.  He's a chaplain for St John ambulance and the bride and groom met in a St John Division.  He had been in Vanuatu on business for a week and we had a great time catching up, being very happy to see each other again.

And more good news... My phone is a Nokia.  I've always had them before and been satisfied.  This one has not been as good, more difficult to use etc. It's also falling apart even though I treat it gently.  It needs an elastic band around it to keep it together, despite repairs.I have six weeks left on contract and have been looking around for a replacement.

Son wangled himself a new Apple iPhone 4.  His wife and I don't know what strings he pulled or favours he called in.  They are as scarce as hen's teeth in Sydney with every shop having a very long waiting list, and supply being very short.  His cost him nothing as  a VIP with current carrier who gave him an incentive to continue with them.  He gave me his old phone, iPhone 3G.  I don't really need all its features, I have always chosen a fairly basic phone in the past, but who looks a gift horse in the mouth?  So I've spent most of the last day just exploring the possibilities of the phone.  When my contract ends I'll hook up with an even better deal than the one I have now and still pay the same as I do now, which is quite reasonable.  The photo was taken with the phone as an experiment.  Certainly downloading photos to the computer is very easy and the fact that they are both Apple products is useful in compatibility too.

So both good and bad.  Puzzling too.

Monday, 13 September 2010

spring is here...

...the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies iz.

I've seen several versions of this rhyme lately because indeed, spring is riz.  We don't have here the wild freesias on the footpath verge as we had in Killara, but there's wattle, grevilleas, jasmine and other flower scents wafting around in the breeze.

I walked up to King Street by a different route the other day and came on a community garden.  There's quite a few of these in the area which is fairly eco conscious.  This garden was  different.  Part of the footpath in front of four terrace houses had had a straw and hay garden laid on  it.  Plants were very healthy and a URL painted on a sign gave further details of coming plantings.  I wondered if the plants were safe but it  did not look plundered.

It's warm here too today and the weather has been beautiful.  Brilliantly sunny with a clear blue sky.

So if the grass has riz, where is my knitting spring feeling too? Definitely not riz.  I'm knitting, some every day.  I am just not very enthused about it at the moment.  I'll have a couple of hours tomorrow in the train as I go to and from the Central Coast.  I plan on sock knitting and hope to have one pair finished this week.

I'm about 1/3 of the way down the body of the top down asymmetrical vest.  It's slow going, I really don't like knitting with large needles and there are a lot of stitches each row.  I've also done a  sixteen stitch pattern down the edge of the wrapover part of the vest.  It has two bobbles in twelve rows and a bit of a lacy twig pattern.  It's not difficult but for the life of me the pattern won't stick in my mind at the moment, there's lots of other stuff swirling around in there.  I need to keep the pattern book open so I can follow it.

Part of the stuff swirling around is thoughts of the future.  My old home will be photographed this week and advertising starts next week with an auction towards the end of October.  I find it very unsettling.  I know what the agent has said it should go  for but as my son said, it's only worth what people will pay on the day.  I'd really like a house, rather than a unit and have been spending a lot of time on both the major  real estate sale sites, so I hope it's worth a lot on the day.  I'm the cautious type so would not be buying till my place is definitely sold.  Still, it gives me an idea of what's around and of prices.

I'm astounded at some of the pictures of places for sale.  I wonder if some of those are rental places.  I'm surprised at the utter mess of some places.  I suppose the occupant has no real interest in the sale, but some have had dirty washing up all over the kitchen, tables uncleared, boxes stacked on boxes and some are obviously quite filthy.

Then again, there are some where there are holes in walls, blinds not only down but broken and sagging. We were fortunate that although the place here had been only ever rented, the tenants were as fussy as if they were owners.  Everything was spotless anytime DIL looked at the place.  She looked at some places where she had to pick her way in bedrooms over piles of dirty underwear on the floor.  I don't like housework but  could not possibly live like that.

So enjoy the pictures.  The grevilleas are in our place, the wattle is two doors up and the jasmine two doors down the other way.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

ancient history

I have plenty of clothes hanging space in my room, but not much at all in the way of drawers. My socks, almost all handknitted, and the off season tops and shirts live in a wicker box with lid which doubles as a bedside table with small things on the lid. Today I just lifted the lid slightly, reached in and grabbed these socks. I was surprised to get these. I'm not sure how they were on the top. I think they are the very first pair I knitted apart from a pair of handspun Border Leicester socks for one of my sons when he was probably at pre-school. Let me say that was a looooong time ago.  He has a significant birthday tomorrow and I'm not sure where all those years have gone.  I think we're having a celebration of both his and my birthday with  dinner out.  He had heaps going on at work when it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I cooked my own birthday dinner.  In addition, DIL was overseas at the time, so we'll combine the two occasions.

I had a look but my blog started after these were done.  My second pair, done in Opal from the old Champion Textiles shop, (cough, splutter, sneeze at the dust), are shown here.  I hate knitting with Opal, it's stringy to my fingers, but it certainly wears well.  That pair is still going strong and gets regular use.

The striped pair was made I think with some Cleckheaton 5 ply on sale at the time from the then Tapestry Craft, now Morris and Sons.  Coincidentally, by the way, the new Granny Square in the old Champion Textiles shop is an offshoot of Morris and Sons.  Why I tried stripes is beyond me.  I have no idea.  I can see I carried the wool up the inside from stripe to stripe.  However, I distinctly remember having  trouble with the pattern.  It was nothing fancy and I'm sure was a normal pattern but I could not get the hang of rejoining after the heel to do the gusset.  My wool was on the wrong side of the needles and I remember my frustrations.  I looked inside and can see ends, not woven in properly where I cut the wool and re-joined it on the other side.

It's strange to see  the progress now.  Lot of progress and lots of socks, literally many, many dozens of pairs of all sizes and patterns, usually mine now.

I now have one fewer UFOs than last week. I was doing the large size Aestlight in some sock wool from the Granny Square.  The wool is lovely, I like it and the colour but it wasn't doing anything for me as the garter triangle became bigger.  So, goodbye Aestlight for the time being.  I'll do it again in the future in something else.

I'm off to post the first Brangian shawl I made to a friend in Christchurch, NZ.  She had minor damage to her house in the earthquake, with a chimney falling down.  However, she, like almost everyone else has been spooked and terrified by the sheer number and severity of the aftershocks.  A couple have been almost the same severity as the original quake and they are getting around a dozen to twenty aftershocks every day where she lives.  They've been told they may have this for another three to four weeks.

My first Brangian is in the colours she likes, so I thought she might like the comfort around her neck and shoulders.  I really love this shawl myself, but want to send something now, not a few weeks  down the track.

Monday, 6 September 2010

wild weekend

What a weekend!  It was wild and wet, not as wet as in Victoria or South Australia, but very wet all the same.  It was windy, blowing a gale.  It was freezing.  We missed out on the earthquake New Zealand had, but our weather was  wild as well.

It was a good weekend, nevertheless, but required some adapting of plans.  No picnics, no leisurely strolls around Southern Highland villages, no sitting in the sun outside at small cafés.  But there was conversation, food, fires, friends.  The friend who I always go with and I sat in my motel room at night drinking hot chocolate made from chocolate on a stick from Adora chocolates which is near both our places.  The chocolate had a goodly slosh of butterscotch schnapps lacing it and was just right for the time and the weather.  The drink was accompanied by pieces of good dark chocolate covered dates, or ginger or pieces flavoured with wattle seed or caramel.  We had both bought a selection from Adora, unknown to the other.  The whole weekend was freezing and the hot drink was very suitable.

The weather became wetter the further we drove from Sydney on the Friday.  Saturday was bitingly cold, so foggy we could not see over the road all day and  the fog was accompanied by torrential rain.  Sunday was just as cold but fine and sunny.  It felt even colder because the wind blew over 100 kmh most of the day.  A real gale which brought down trees and caused blackouts.

I took a sock to knit and did do some occasionally.  The first sock, my wool and the second on dpns all fitted well in the small bag I won from Missy Fee.  It sat on my wrist and so the yarn was contained.  The bag was a great idea and I thank Fee again for it.

When we arrived here on Sunday afternoon it felt like the sub-tropics.  It was very much warmer than further south.  My daughter-in-law had not long arrived  from a month in Sri Lanka.  A small gift, easily accessible  from her carry on luggage was handed over.  These buttons which came from  what we would consider an antique shop were first.  They are not quite as bronze as the photo shows, more a silvery bronze.  I intend putting them on my Rustic asymmetrical vest when it's finally finished.  I think they'll be just right on the chunky, dark green wool.  They are metal and almost two centimetres across, with a shank at the  back.

I think they will probably need a backing of another small button on the wrong side, but I'll consider that some more when I get tot sewing them on.

Now I just have to get the knitting done and blocked.  No seams, I'm working on it top down and making notes as I  go of what I have done.

With the buttons  was this small tin.  I immediately knew what was in it.  She didn't but had thought it looked interesting and that I would like it. DIL thought the word "needles" meant sewing needles. I showed my friend the tin and as I had guessed, he also knew what would be inside.  She was surprised at our reaction as she had no idea herself and hadn't opened the tin.

As a child, I used to listen to very old recordings from my Grandmother.  Marches, comedy, single pressings from Nellie Melba, operas and operettas.

They were all played on an  upright windup gramophone similar in design to the one in the link.  If you click on picture in link it will enlarge and running mouse over picture will show details.  Grandma's gramophone was beautiful polished rosewood about forty years older than the one in the link and it now stands in my brother's large hallway.

The tin contained gramophone needles for  such an instrument.  Some were marked "extra loud."  Perhaps they gouged more of a track in the old 78 records than those producing softer sounds, made many years  before vinyl records appeared .  Something out of the ark to young people now.  I have three or four wooden butter boxes full of these old 78s.  I think that when I finally move to my own place I will donate them to the National Library  Sound and Film archive in Canberra.  I have friend working there who is interested in them and I can have them put on CDs.

I like links to the past like these, just as I like the sense of history which comes from  continuing and activity of knitting which is hundreds of years old.  Knitting patterns like the old Shetland patterns is another link which I enjoy.

So a good weekend.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

plod, plod, plod

Plodding along seems all that's happening at the moment.

I've been quite busy and have also had a full weekend every weekend of August.  Tomorrow I'm going for the weekend to the Southern Highlands.  A group of us meets each month on a Saturday and in September we stay in motels etc. and have a weekend together.  I'm leaving mid-morning, tomorrow, Friday.

I started making an asymmetrical vest with an extended sleeve line especially for this weekend.  So?  I've just reached the bottom of the yoke, knitting top down.  I won't have it to wear and I won't have it with me as I haven't yet worked out armhole placement.  Bendigo Rustic in a forest green colour.  Plod. Plod.

When it was obvious the vest would not be ready, I cast on for a third Aestlight shawl, the large size this time.  The last took me not long at all.  I still have forty rows of the garter stitch triangle to do, before picking up the YO edge for the birdsnest stitch.  Another plodder.

I haven't touched the lacy white socks for at least three weeks.  More plodding.

The sock below now has some of its mate.  I watched  my eldest grandson play his grandfinal soccer game last Saturday.  Then I watched his father play a similar game.  I managed to cast second sock on, do ribbing and then about five centimetres of the leg.  I'll take this away at the weekend.  The sock, needles, yarn and the first sock all fit into the little bag I won from Missy Fee.  I can carry it on my arm through the longer handle and still knit. It's mindless knitting, just stocking stitch, so hopefully I'll come back with that sock almost finished.