Saturday, 29 September 2012


I finally have a finished object.  I spoke to my daughter-in-law about the cowl for my son.  Would he like it?  Would he wear it?  She decided that yes, both questions would be answered in the affirmative.  I've finally finished it.  It's far too big for me, but he's very tall and has a long neck.  Two strands held together of what seems to me to be lightweight fingering.  Swan Island organic merino and baby alpaca mix. It's very soft and feels good next to the skin.

I have made an i-cord edging both top and bottom to stop the edge stretching.  It's firm but not tight and makes a neat edge to the cowl.  It still needs blocking, I've been slack that way lately.

Thank goodness DIL has cut my hair since I took that photo.  The cut was several weeks overdue.  There was a great pile of clippings on the floor when she had finished and the colour was quite different too.

I do wear some pink.  The blouse in the first photo is an Ollie and Max pink stripe.  But I prefer other colours to pink.

I think that's part of the reason I have had so much trouble finishing these socks.   I could not tell you how long they have been on the needles.  I know I bought the wool when I went with Lynne about a year ago when she took me to get dad's tapestries framed.  I started them as  my go-to knit for when I wanted a change or had nothing else to do and my guess is that it could easily be ten months since I started.  Instead of a go-to project, they turned into "avoid these at all costs" lot of knitting.  I was determined to finish them so have been working doggedly at them.  I have only a few centimetres to the toe of the second sock.  They are blindingly pink.  However, not long  now and if I settled to it, I could probably finish the knitting tonight and leave the grafting till tomorrow.

School holidays week 2 up here.  Grandson, I can hardly now call him Master 13, he's so big, and his  mum are catching the plane  tomorrow to Brisbane so he can play soccer in an under 14 State team.  He's been appointed co-captain and is extremely proud and excited.  They are hoping to sell their house soon and are painting.  So I have the two girls from tomorrow.  Son wants a free run tomorrow afternoon and the holiday Monday.  I'm a bit iffy about this.  He's always telling me that they amuse themselves very well, and that's true.  If so, they could still be at home.  I realise I need to have them from Tuesday to Thursday as he will be working and DIL will be away.  I did point this out to him but he overlooked it.  I wouldn't normally mind, but while I am very much better than over the last few weeks, I am not yet right.  I told him to tell them not to expect  outings every day because I just could not cope with it.  My hip is much better, but I'm still not walking quite properly and that has been putting  strain on my back and tiring me.  So they will be here tomorrow morning till Thursday sometime, not sure just when.  Miss 12 and I did lots of things in summer holidays when she was here for a few days.  My grandmother and I did lots of things too.  It's a grandma thing, I think, but these two girls will have to catch up another time.

I think a licence may be needed to work this chair.  There are very many adjustments possible.  The armrests have four possible adjustment.  Just armrests!

My computer chair has had a lot of use.  I've used it for the last almost five years and I  think it was first bought when my son set up his first home office some twelve years before that.  I think it may not be contributing to back and hip problems, but it's not helping.  The hydraulic lift mechanism is on the way out, the seat no longer tilts and the back can't be adjusted.  The padding in the seat is breaking  down and it's very uncomfortable to sit on.  I would fix that if there were no other problems.

I asked son for a recommendation.  He downplayed Officeworks and found one of these on eBay.  I had found another with a tall moulded back but he insists he would have bought one of these if available when he bought his last chair after back operation.  He said these are the Rolls Royce of office chairs and he'll buy it from me if I don't like it.

You can see more about  them here at Steelcase chairs.  There was no way I was paying that sort of  money but he found a grey one on eBay.  Auction finished at 1:00 am last night so I set my top price and won!  He says the model I have won is closer to $1400 and I paid a good deal less than a third of that.  Seller will drop it off here on Monday afternoon, another reason I can't take granddaughters out.  Seat tilts and can be made longer and shorter according to length of thigh, back has lumbar support and tilt adjusts and more.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

snuggly cowl

If at first you don't succeed, try again. I had a post written, pictures posted, published pressed and off into the ether it blew, like leaves in last week's gales.  So I went off and made myself a lovely spring lunch with freshly squeezed orange juice and I'll try again.

I had to go into the city for a hearing  test last Friday.  My hip was incredibly sore and I could hardly stand.  Even though it was almost 9:00 am, the train was absolutely packed.  I had to stand all the way and I could hardly hobble when I left the train.  Fortunately, it has suddenly cleared as mysteriously as it descended three weeks ago.

My hearing was not good, it's been made worse by the congestion in my sinuses, something I've lived with since childhood.  It will improve and I'm hoping the warm weather helps, but the doctor has threatened Prednisone, a steroid.  I hate the stuff, have had it before and would do almost anything to avoid taking it.

After returning to the station from  audiologist, I found a kiosk selling jonquils so in self pity, I bought these.  They were only $5 and lasted quite a while.  I'm experimenting with camera settings here.  Decreasing the light allowed in  causes the depth of field or background to show with greater clarity.  Here I've done the opposite.  I think the aperture setting on a bright morning was f4 and you can see that the glasses and little bird are blurry.  Deliberately so.

More camera experimenting here.  I was  fiddling with iPad and exploring on it and opened Photobooth. There are settings there for special effects.  This one is called mirror image and there are others which take subject in a swirl or with parts of the subject poking out.  Both those looked quite wrong with a portrait but I thought the mirror image was interesting.

I took Lynne's advice about knitting a cowl instead of metre upon metre of scarf.  So I ripped out the scarf I'd been doing for my son and started this cowl.  The organic merino/baby alpaca is still being held double and this is over half the cowl done.  I've done baby booties with a similar stitch but nothing larger.  This is five rows garter stitch alternating with five rows purl.  It pulls the fabric down to have the purl rows standing out.  The yarn is beautifully soft and will be cosy around the neck.  This is not a good photo.  I'm holding the edge down to give more idea of the size and holding the camera in the other hand.

I wondered about the edge and what to do to strengthen it.  I could see  that pulling at it to arrange cowl might cause the edge to stretch.  So I've done an i-cord cast on.  I thought about how to do this and tried something I had thought of.  Then I found that there is nothing new under the sun  and someone else had already written a similar method up. I cast on three stitches (or whatever you want for the i-cord.)

Move those three stitches to left hand needle.  This means yarn will be behind the furthermost stitch for i-cord.  Knit front and back into the first stitch and then knit remaining two stitches.  There should now be four stitches on righthand needle.  Transfer three of these to the lefthand needle and repeat process, knitting front and back into the first stitch, and then knitting rest of stitches.  When you transfer three stitches back to left needle, you will now have two stitches  on right needle.  It's slow if you want a large umber of stitches for garment, but it works as you can see from photo.  It's not a tight edge but it's definitely more substantial and firmer than just a cast on edge.  I've been working out how to do a similar cast off.  I'm sure there's stuff on the net, but the actual cowl knitting is very easy and I'm thinking while I knit.  I'd like  to work it out myself as I did the cast on edge, even if I find it's another reinvent the wheel sort of thing.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

son's scarf

These are the two  skeins of organic merino/alpaca yarn which I bought from Suzyhausfrau in Canberra. Great, quick service once again.  Each skein has 500 yards in it and is described as fingering.  I think my mother would have called it college grey in colour.

I wound one of the skeins to make a long scarf for my eldest son who is very tall, 6'5".  As I started the scarf, I realised that I would not call this yarn fingering.  It's more like sock wool, perhaps Patonyle in thickness, although certainly not in softness.  I was using 4 mm needles and the material was beautifully soft and snuggly but the needles were too big, making the fabric unattractively sloppy.

So I went down in needle size.  As I plugged away at it, the prospect of knitting this amount of yarn on those small needles hit my brain.  It would take forever. So I ripped it out.  I didn't have much to show for the time I'd spent on it, perhaps six or seven centimetres.

I wound the second skein and started again, this time using the two strands together with 4 mm needles again.  Much better indeed.  It's still soft and snuggly, not at all stiff in drape but certainly a good deal quicker to knit.  This picture shows the beginning of the scarf.  I wondered about a pattern.  Son likes things fairly plain, but metre upon metre of garter stitch did not appeal much.  I wouldn't do stocking stitch as it would have needed  a wide border each side to prevent rolling.  I've done the one row rib scarf before, but again did not want to do that again, nor loads of moss stitch.  So I'm alternating an inset of stocking stitch  between the garter  stitch.  It still won't be a quick knit and somewhere down the line I'm sure I'll grumble about the slowness.  It will be lovely to wear. Warm, soft and cosy.

I get annoyed when a good idea or workmanship is spoilt because of something small.  This is my clothes airer which I use both inside and on the balcony.  Or actually, the picture is half the airer.  The other half is full of underwear.  I'm not my mother who hid her undies on the line between rows of other clothes, but I have deliberately omitted them here.

The airer is strong and light.  It is lower than my balcony railings which make it quite legal  for the by-laws here. It's easy to use and folds down to a fairly thin piece which I  store on the balcony behind  my spare outdoor chairs.  It holds a lot.  The chrome is still in good condition, like new.  However, the manufacturers have let themselves down.  The rivets they used to hold pieces together are going rusty.  Very rusty.  Cheap  and nasty materials have spoilt a good concept.  I've seen similar designs but of inferior  quality.  This one was twice their price and I'm disappointed in the manufacture.  Of course, I've long since thrown out the piece of cardboard which was around it with manufacturer's name on it.

Since I hung out this small load the sun has disappeared and it's become very cloudy.  Hope it all dries.  I may have to put it in second bedroom where things dry fairly quickly.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

lavender blue, dilly dilly, lavender green...

Part of the chorus from a song I learnt many years ago when I was a child listening to the ABC children's show on radio.  I've already posted a copy of my Argonauts' members certificate some time ago.

Spring is definitely in the air, despite the snow at Bowral last weekend.  August winds still linger on at times and they have been very strong through the week.  I think half the western plains of NSW have  blown onto Sydney.

However the air feels different, it's spring.  Blossom can be smelt and the wattle is blooming deep gold.

I was in Colesworths yesterday.  They had pots of daisies, lavender, small tomatoes etc and shoppers were clustering around them like bees to the honey pot.  I bought a lavender to go with the rosemary which I bought a few weeks ago.  However, they had no larger pots.  I'll have to walk down to the hardware shop for something to transfer this to.  Actually, they  had no pots at all.  That particular shop is a bit of a dead loss.  The same shop in another suburb is about the same size but better laid out and with a much bigger range of goods.

The small bowls are part of a belated birthday present.  I had a voucher given me as a birthday present for Howards Storage.  I like a lot of what they have but it's a bit like walking into a good stationery shop, a trap for the unwary.  However, the voucher had only another couple of weeks to it, so I went in.

I found these bowls which are actually measuring cups.  The largest is 250 ml, one cup.  My measuring glass is getting well past its prime.  It's tin, not glass and the painted numbers are almost illegible as it's quite old.  So I bought these.  The cup can go on top dishwasher shelf but not in the microwave.

The design is rather neat.  The outside white is a firm material, plastic of some kind.  The inner red is a soft material and with the break in the plastic, the cup  can be gently squeezed to make a pouring lip.  This photo's a bit blurry.  It was hard to hold heavy camera steady with one hand.

I still haven't blocked my baby alpaca shawl with yarn from Suzyhausfrau in  Canberra.  In fact I haven't done much actual knitting at all this week, although I've thought about what I would do next.

On Tuesday, Grandma Flea came to see me and I gave her some yarn for the Epping Library Knitters.  I had a big striped bag of mostly wool, although there was some acrylic, not much.  Acrylic burns my fingers so I rarely buy it.  When I said I had the wool to donate to making squares for rugs and other small projects  to give away, I was given a box of needles, lots of wool, some of it small balls  and some larger amounts as well as some knitting and craft books.  So Grandma Flea braved the streets around here and we sat and talked for quite a while.  It feels good to have passed yarn onto people which will use it.  Apparently their supplies were a bit low, so they've had a boost.

An email through the week brought news from Canberra of this yummy looking  organic merino and alpaca mix.  Just look at the beautiful colours.  The service is very good so I bought two skeins.  My son will probably be in Europe for a while in their next winter so I thought I'd do a scarf for him.  He's 6'5" so there is quite a lot of knitting in a decent size scarf for him.  I loved the raspberry colour and the one called thyme but can't quite see him in either!  He likes his charcoal alpaca hat I made a few years ago.

The wool may seem expensive but it's fingering and has over 500 yards in the skein, so about the usual.
The service is super quick, so I'm anticipating its soon arrival.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Are those snow clouds, mum?

We used to spend the winter holidays in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.  Those holidays were then in the last week of August and the first week of September.  In other words, now.

We stayed at Lawson in a tiny house which Mum and Dad later bought as a home while they built next door.  Lawson is usually too low to get much snow, although I was there some years ago when everything was covered reasonably heavily.

Our question was always hopefully asked of Mum when we travelled higher up was, "Mum, are those snow clouds?"  Mum and Dad both grew up in Lithgow where my grandmother lit the fire in March and kept it going till November.  Lithgow is in a funnel shaped valley which runs north/south and can be bitterly cold, with snow and icy winds from the south.  Why we never asked Dad, I don't know.

I was reminded of this last  Friday.  My friend and I went to the Southern Highlands for our annual weekend away with other  friends.  We went driving on Friday afternoon in the cold.  we were really just sight seeing, not going anywhere in particular.

Late in the afternoon we turned down the road to Wombeyan caves.  We passed vineyards and studs, all with beautiful houses and well fenced paddocks.  I  haven't been down that way for possibly thirty years or more.  We'd heard the road deteriorated rapidly once houses had been left behind.  Overhead were dark purple clouds and rain started which turned  to snow.  Light admittedly, but snow.  We reached  the turnoff to Joadja, the old ghost town once a thriving shale mining community and decided we would be stupid to continue.  So we turned around.

It was freezing with a strong cold wind so we headed back to the motel. Other people also reported snow on the Saturday morning and today's Herald mentions Bowral as one of several places where it snowed over weekend.

Saturday was very cold.  The temperature about 8:00 am was -4 indexed  down in accounting for wind to -7.  It didn't get much warmer for some hours.

Sunday was warmer but I was tired.  My hip was sore and I had tossed and turned.  Then at 1:30 am, I was woken by a bright light and a loud noise.  My TV in my room had come on and was playing something about the start of the Beatles.  I flew out of bed, if it was loud to me without hearing aids in, then it was very loud indeed.  I finally had it turned off but didn't get a great deal more sleep that night.  At first I thought that some really "clever" person must have  turned the timer on.  However, I hadn't used the TV at all and it hadn't come on on Friday night.  One of life's little mysteries.  When we handed keys in we reported it and I saw the manager coming down to investigate as we drove out.  My friend is going overseas tomorrow so we mad a fairly early arrival home as he had odds and ends to sort.

I sat on the lounge till I smelt smoke and got up to investigate.  The unit on floor down and one across from my place had smoke coming out of it.  In no time flat, there were three fire engines from three different brigades there, along with an ambulance and paramedics and about a dozen police.  I know nothing of the cause or the extent of the damage.  I would go on balcony and take a photo and then come back for a breather.  It took quite a while for it to be extinguished and firemen worked  from the front balcony, about four metres from mine but lower and when I went out my door, there were more firemen inside using one of the buildings many fire hoses as well.

They had breathing apparatus on.This morning they had a normal household hose over the balcony syphoning water down into the garden.  Possibly this was cleaning up. I think it would be hard many hours later to be able to syphon off enough to have the hose really running.  Top picture shows smoke when fire was almost out.

Picture on right is of the last fire engine coming up from the underpass at the end of our building.  That was blocked by two appliances.