Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Have I accidentally fractalised?

When I first bought E.Roberta I purchased a kilo of tops made up of three colours, white, grey and brown.  Having not done any spinning for about 20 years and having never used an electronic spinner and having never spun tops before I wasn't sure how to go about  spinning them.   Eventually I decided to split the roving into its approximate colour groups.  I broke off about 2 metres at a time and then split them more or less into their separate colours. 

The first 200gms was a disaster but I got better as I went along and eventually produced a reasonable, if rather thick, yarn.  I used this to knit a scarf for myself.  Here it is: (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Notice how, quite unintentionally, the colour progresses from light to dark.  If I had tried to get this effect I doubt if I could have done it so well, if at all, considering that it was randomly spun and plied.  This scarf used the whole skein; there are no joins in it.

Yesterday I de-skeined one of the earlier efforts (so quick and easy with the swift and jumbo winder) and started to knit what will eventually be a beanie and was quite bemused to see this growing before my eyes: (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Once again, there are no joins and I am knitting it just as it was plied.  This time I am getting stripes!

The scarf had opened up the possibility of manipulating colours but that was before I had ever heard of fractal spinning.  I am now anxious to finish spinning the black corriedale tops which, as I am spinning much finer now, is taking ages and I am still only about halfway through my third bobbin.  The bobbins each hold about 100gms so I have a way to go yet.  I have a couple of stashes of hand-painted rovings but suspect that I will never do as well when I actually try for an effect.

Friday, December 6, 2013

An aye for an eye.

Poppy has had a weepy eye for about a week and had been going around with it shut most of the time.   Assuming that she might have something in it I irrigated it with normal saline a couple of times.  This improved it temporarily and then it would start to weep again.  On Wednesday I made an appointment to take her to see Dr Sophie and miraculously the eye cleared up; so I cancelled the appointment. 

On Thursday is was weepy and watery again so I did the irrigation thing again and for a time it looked good.  Then yesterday it all started up again so I made another appointment with the vet and again it miraculously cleared up but I was starting to see a pattern and determined to take her anyway.

She was not happy with Dr Phil and I had to hold her very firmly while he examined her.  He said that the tissue behind the eyelid was very inflamed but there was no damage to the cornea so he has given me some ointment which is part anti-inflammatory and part antibiotic and the change has been remarkable.  The eye is now clear, she was curled up on the bed this morning when I woke up, something she has not done for about a week, and not only is she happier and very bright-eyed again but she allowed me to put the ointment in this morning so twice daily for a week will hopefully not be a struggle.  Hopefully that will be the end of it.

But they are both very anti-vet and both have bitten Dr Sophie.  It is not a problem which I have encountered with any of my other cats although visits to the vet were not enjoyable at least they didn't bite.  I am wondering if all my previous outdoor cats had more experience of different places and were therefore not freaked out by being taken out of their familiar environment.  It is a bit of a worry  ...

Today is D2's birthday.  I tried to phone her but she was not answering on either her mobile or her landline but I will be seeing her tonight anyway.  I have made the requested chocolate mousse and bought some clotted cream which only wife-in-law and I will be able to eat as the rest of the family is milk intolerant and D3 has decided to avoid gluten as well.  Thank goodness for the internet  -  there are recipes!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

This is ridiculous!

It is supposed o be summer here and I have just climbed back into my thermal underwear and turned on the heating in the apartment.  There is a freezing gale-force wind blowing straight in through any window or door I open and we have a cloudless sky.  Go figure!

I have almost finished the vest I am knitting from the 'Storm' spinnings.  I have had to go on to some of the extra fibre I bought and it looks a bit different but with the general roughness of the spinning due to bad blending of the fibre in the first lot I bought, the better blending and therefore better spinning of the last 200 gms isn't really going to show all that much.  Not that it will make a difference as there is nothing I can do about it short of undoing the lot and knitting something else.  That is something I don't intend to do since I am only  about 10cm from the end.

I am already planning my next knitting project and will use some of the yarn from the first efforts on E.Roberta.  I should be able to get on with that as soon as the weather warms up and my fingers thaw out.

Poppy has a mucky eye and we are off to the vet this afternoon.  I irrigated it with normal saline last night and it does look better than it did yesterday but it is still not looking too good  -  although she is opening it normally today.

It is D2's birthday on Saturday and we are having dinner at her place but she doesn't want to cook so I have volunteered to do the dessert.  D3 has decided to go both dairy and gluten free so she is not easy to cater for but D2 has requested chocolate mousse which fits the criteria ; I will be the only one who gets to eat cream with it since all my kids and grandbabies are lactose intolerant  -  thanks to their father who is lactose intolerant  -  something he only found out a few years ago.

Luckily there seems to be a whole industry devoted to food intolerances and I have been able to source enough ingredients to organise Christmas food  -  although I will not be actually doing Christmas dinner this year.  We will probably have a barbecue on boxing day but D3 won't be able to eat the sausages  -  they contain bread.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Swiftly flows the done.

I must say that using a swift and ball winder beats the old method of putting the heavy on one's kids to hold the skein of wool while you wind the yarn into a ball.

Even though I was missing a couple of parts from my new swift (they turned up when I stopped searching for them) I was able to wind a jumbo ball in about two minutes; it is certainly an improvement on hanging the skein of yarn around the backs of a couple of chairs and trying to keep everything from descending into a tangle.

Yesterday the window cleaners turned up to clean the bits which I am not expected to be able to reach.  They have to abseil down from the roof and almost finished before double disaster struck.  Firstly it started to rain and then a swarm of bees descended.  I found a couple of dozen clinging to the anti-cat mesh and shouted a warning just before I heard a voice from the roof announcing that there were bees everywhere up there. 

The guys came inside and sat in the passage waiting for all the dangers to pass but the rain didn't stop for a couple of hours by which time they had given up and gone.  So my bedroom window is not squeaky clean and I don't think that Apartment 611 has been finished either.  Since the rain keeps the windows on this side of the building relatively clean anyway I am not particularly fussed.  They will be back again in about six months and can finish off then.

Parsifal, who has been jumping onto the top of his igloo so that he can sleep in the resulting hollow, but expected me to puff it up again for him, has discovered how to restore it to its igloo condition without any help from me.  He is really a very clever cat except when it comes to his diet.  I am collecting the catgora but I missed the heavy moulting season and will probably not have enough for anything meaningful until at least next year.  It looks grey even though both cats are black but perhaps when it is washed it will revert to black and I can blend it with dark grey.  Maybe a scarf? 

In the mean time I have plenty to be going on with.  The 'Storm' vest is almost finished and I still have 800gms of the black corriedale to spin as well as four braids of "Jewel" and I am waiting for another nine braids of "Rosewood" from Carolyn Greenwood to add to the five I already have.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Well ... Yeah!

My cats are registered!!  It was third time lucky but they are now registered as life-time members of the feline race.  To be truthful, I am not sure whose lifetime they are registered for; that has never been made clear but it saves me having to tackle the Claremont Council annually, and as a senior citizen it was very cheap because I qualified for a 50% discount.

I did another speed spin yesterday and almost filled a second bobbin with that 'Storm' blend so I will have enough to finish my vest and some left over to play around with.  Maybe I will get to blend it better on my blending board than the Kiwis managed.  I must say, though, that the two hundred grams extra which I bought was better blended than the first half kilo.

My swift has arrived so now I can wind my skeins without having to resort to chair backs or unwilling family members to keep the yarn from tangling as I wind; and my four braids of 'Jewel' from Kathy's Fibres in Hahndorf, South Australia, arrived yesterday.  That is destined to become a pull-through scarf but I need to finish spinning the black corriedale first.

My  doctor has asked me to record my blood pressure in the mornings and evenings and it is much lower than it was last time I recorded it.  In fact, it is so low in the mornings that I have taken to selecting the second to lowest rather than the lowest of three; and in the evenings it is way lower by about 40 mm.  The only thing I can think of is that the yoga has somehow regulated it because I am not meditating at the moment.  I must get back to it  -  I read this morning that meditation delays dementia.

This is a braid of the 'Jewel' roving.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grrrrrrr! Mk2.

Having realised that I will not have quit enough of the yarn I spun from the 'Storm' silk/merino blend I bought another 200 gms which I have just started spinning; and now I have another grizzle.  The original 500gms was very badly blended and the silk came in lumps which were impossible to draw so I ended up with a very uneven yarn.  Surprisingly, with the pattern I chose to knit, the roughness actually enhances the vest and I am very happy with the results.

BUT ... the new lot is properly blended and no longer do I have lumps of silk mixed with the wool.  The silk is well blended and integrates well with the wool.  So  -  the last few centimetres is going to look different  -  which I am not very happy about.  To add insult to injury, the roving looks as though it has been randomly put together with strips falling off the sides and one chunk which was not attached in any way but looks as though it was put into the package to bring the weight up to the correct amount.  So I have stripped it down to its component loosely attached pieces.  This will not matter, of course but I am not sure what the New Zealand supplier thinks it is doing.  I have started buying my rovings from USA and South Australia.

However, I have not yet tried spinning any of that bit of my stash  so I might find that it is just as difficult to handle as the New Zealand lot.  Actually the black corriedale from NZ is fine and I am very happy with my first skein.  But I need to get the Storm out of the way before I get back to it or my knitting schedule will be disrupted.

I asked the Ds to give me some time with them instead of presents for birthdays and Christmases and D3 treated me to a matinee of South Pacific yesterday.  The story was changed around a bit to bring it up to modern thinking, it was rather raunchy and most of the cast were dancers so it was fairly spectacular but definitely not a kids' show.  The star, as always with that production, was Bloody Mary who was brilliant.

D3 has also, for an early Christmas present, given me a subscription to PLY magazine.  Any spinners out there who haven't come across it yet ... you need to check it out; it is full of useful stuff and a great read.  D3 and I did spinning classes together when she was still at school and not supposed to gatecrash adult education and we have both taken it up again just recently  -  she because she stopped mourning the broken and unreplaceable flyer on her Camelot wheel and me because I bought E.Roberta.  

However, as with her fabric collection, she seems to be buying more yarn than she has time to knit  -  but what the heck; she is happy.  :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

... and the bad news is ..

I am going to have to spin the last of the 'Storm' blend fibre in order to finish the vest I am knitting.  I pushed forward to the end of the penultimate ball to work out how many inches the last one would knit up to and found that I will be about three inches short.  This is, of course, assuming that there will be the same length of yarn in the last ball as in the one I have just finished knitting but it is pretty clear in my mind that I need to bite the bullet and get spinning again.

Speaking of biting the bullet, I have been experiencing pain in one tooth when I chew on it (and only when I chew on it) so yesterday I took myself off to the dentist.  He X-Rayed the teeth in the vicinity and there is no crack, no decay and no abscess but he was horrified at what my previous dentist (who thankfully resigned) had done to my occlusion with his idea that fillings did not have to be shaped to fit their opposite number with the result that only four teeth come anywhere near their partners and that is only because I insisted on a bit of remedial work when only one cusp actually touched its opposite number.

So my new dentist is talking of sending me off to a dental trouble-shooter.  I am seeing him again at the end of next week and we will decide then what should be done.  short of refilling all the teeth I can't see what can be done but Dentist Dr C. thinks that would be a major and hopefully avoidable way to solve the problem.  Luckily I have dental cover with HBF.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Coles Supermarket's logic is illogical

After two years of shopping at Coles I still haven't worked out their system for placement of items and spend hours sometimes wandering the shelves looking for things before I eventually ask for help.

1.  The filters for my water jug are, together with the cous cous, in the foreign foodstuffs  aisle  4.

2.  The toothpicks are not in the dental section but in the party goods aisle

3.  The drinking straws are not in the party section but in the glad wrap section  -  aisle 12

And I don't know why, considering that Coles is just downstairs, I ever go there on weekends when the place is packed and the trolley jams remind me of the traffic in Tehran.  And never shop on Mondays  -  the shelf packers don't work on weekends when everyone shops; wait until Tuesday when there is something on the shelves again.

I have got into the habit of writing the aisle number of 'found' items so that I can find them next time I need to buy them.  No doubt, after the way supermarkets try to lure us to buy more, everything will be in different aisles and different sections by the time I go looking again.

For a moment there ...

... I thought that I was going to have enough yarn to finish the vest I am knitting from the 'Storm' tops which I sweated blood over when I was spinning , but alas, I am going to be a bit short.  Luckily I anticipated this and bought an extra 200 gms which is enough to fill my jumbo bobbin and will give me plenty to finish knitting.

I am actually rather pleased with the vest so far; it is very soft and drapey and, except for getting the stitches in the wrong order a few days ago, a very easy knit as it is basically just a rectangle with a couple of slits for armholes.  I eventually decided that it would be quicker to undo the bit I got wrong instead of trying to drop the stitches down and try to work out which way around the yarn I should hook it.  I have now reached and passed the first armhole.  (Note to self  -  make sure that I don't twist the newly cast-on bit when I knit it back into the main body of the vest.)

The black corriedale skein weighs 200 gms and is 283 yards long so I am spinning finer.  I have settled on a 'top-down' cardigan which gives me the option of stopping when I run out of yarn.  Just perfect for handspun.

The babies have worn out their grooming glove so I have bought them a very fancy (and very expensive) comb with an eject button so that I can collect the Catgora much more efficiently.  When I have a meaningful amount I will decide what colour to blend it with  -  probably a deep burgundy.

I am getting an error message every time I log into BlogSpot which is a bit ominous:

Possible problem with your .gwt.xml module file.  The compile time user.agent value (geck01_8) does not match the runtime user.agent value (ie9).  Expect more errors.

They might as well have posted that it Greek for all I can understand it.  Hopefully this post will allow itself to be saved or I might have to download Firefox again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Catgora ... sounds like something which escaped from the Addams Family

Catgora, in fact, is cat hair for spinning.  I have started collecting the brushings from Parsifal and Poppy, storing them in a paper bag as recommended by the Ravelry cat hair spinning group, and when I have enough, in about ten years time, I will try to spin it into knittable yarn.

Meanwhile, I have just plied the first two bobbins of the black corriedale tops and had to belly-up the jumbo bobbin.  I kept the tension looser that I have done before so it may be the reason that there seems so much more yarn than previously.  I will find out when I skein, count and weigh it.

And while I was doing the plying I was downloading Windows 8.1 which has taken me most of the afternoon.  Then I had to read the terms of acceptance, after which I took it off again.  We should be able to read the terms before, not after, the download as I had to agree that Microsoft could monitor my travels around the internet and although I am sure that they already do it I have not agreed to allow them to do so and will put off the evil moment for as long as I can.

To make it even more of a fun day, I realised that the vest which I am knitting in the 'Storm' mix and which I am knitting in moss stitch or seed stitch (depending which side of the Atlantic you live) had some almost invisible mistakes where I had purled when I should have plained and visa versa.  They started about three rows down and I have dropped and picked up three of the stitches but there are some more and I am wondering if it would be quicker to just undo those rows and hope that I can pick the stitches up again.  I have done it before but not for many years.  I'll see how I go; dropping the stitches down for starters and undoing if that doesn't work.  All in all a 'fun' day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Michigan Spinning: Knitting Unspun Fiber aka Puni Knitting

Michigan Spinning: Knitting Unspun Fiber aka Puni Knitting

This is a video demonstrating how to make punis.  It looks like fun but I will have to brush up on my carding before I can make them like that.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Heaven preserve and protect me

Heaven preserve me from well meaning friends and relatives who set up the computers of their parents and elderly acquaintances.

I have a client at the moment who owns a computer which is both slow and messy and which, moreover, refuses to do what I ask of it.  The icons on the desktop are tiny and when I tried to set them bigger it wanted to reboot (which we didn't have time to do because it is so slow) and its home page is simply 'about.blank' which, according to google is the result of the computer becoming infected with something and her virus scanner, Bitdefender, clearing it and removing her home page.  I have printed off some instructions telling me how to put it back again but her virus scanner is out of date.  This is a problem with trial versions of things  -  they run out.  She has two urgent messages on her computer telling her to update the virus scanner and according to the page of instructions I found, she needs to scan and clean her computer before anyone can reinstate her home page.

I would recommend a technician and a more well-known virus scanner to sort it out ... I can't.

I have managed, after much swearing and gnashing of teeth, to install TrendMicro and MS Office on my Windows 8 laptop and then I found that there were 20 emails in my inbox which refused to delete.  Himself solved that by dragging them into the deleted folder.  I had tried using the 'move' button to do this and it didn't work so I was resigned to having them there forever.  The newer emails delete as they should.  And now my internet connection to the Windows 8 computer (hereafter to be referred to as minimagnus) keeps dropping out.  I think that this may have something to do with the facility with which it connects itself to the COTA network or maybe my modem just doesn't like having to do the extra work.

I love computers but sometimes they drive me spare.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I don't believe that any Local Council ...

The law pertaining to the registration of cats comes into effect in six days.  When I first went to register the babies last week the forms were not yet available but the girl behind the desk promised to post them when they arrived.

I received them a couple of days ago, filled them in with all the relevant information and have just returned from the Council Offices.  Despite the fact that the law comes into effect next week I was told that no registrations will be accepted or processed until the middle of November.  Why??  I can only ascribe it to gross inefficiency, something I have frequently noticed over the past two years since I moved to Claremont.  I have been dealing with the Cottesloe council for decades and they have always been helpful and efficient; I am unaccustomed to this level of inefficiency.  I am starting to seriously believe the rumours about how and why the old council building burnt down.

Anyway, the forms and all the required documentation are there and waiting for mid-November.  I can't see that much will be done about unregistered cats unless the rangers are better at their job than the office staff.  But I will comply with the law ... I have even bought collars for them but they will only be for 'best' if I take them out to the park where they will be firmly tethered to the kitty-carriage anyway.

I have picked up my new spectacles and am testing them.  I have found that with the new correction I am having to move my head differently to see the correct distances with the multifocal lenses.  But already I am accommodating to them and I can even see the computer screen without my computer glasses.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I have decided to start knitting the yarn I spun from the 'Storm' rovings but the swatch seems to think that it is about 11-ply which is just thicker than Aran.  I have knitting needles left over from the olden days and new ones which I have bought recently and I should have the correct size to start knitting the ribbing band but it seems to be the one and only size which I don't have in a spectrum from 2mm to 20mm; I don't have any 5mm needles.  So I am going to have to make another trip to Woolylatte tomorrow and get some, unless, by some miracle, the set which I ordered about six weeks ago (and which was out of stock) arrives to save me.

Ravelry.com is amazing.  I put my parameters into the pattern search and came up with pages and pages of vest patterns for Aran so I think that I simply need to knit a size smaller than I should to accommodate the slightly thicker yarn ... or I could go up a needle size and then I could start straight away with the right sized needles but that would mean knitting another swatch to get the ratio  -  not a particularly onerous task and the finished vest might be better for being a bit looser.  One of the problems I have found that knitters of homespun are prone to is knitting on too-small needles.

I've finished spinning the first bobbin of black corridale but haven't started on the next one yet.  I have downloaded a couple of books onto my Kobo and they are tempting me. And today was sterilising litter tray day and should be cutting claws day as well but the babies slept so peacefully all day that I decided not to disturb them or Poppy would start yowling for tummy rubs.  She has a particularly strident voice which is hard to ignore ... although she does stop if I tell her to.  Only she looks so hurt when I do that which makes me reluctant to shut her up.

There is still nothing from the Claremont Council regarding registering them and they have to be official by 31st October.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Claremont Council? What council? A big girl's blouse, more like ...

All cats in Western Australia have to be sterilised, microchipped and registered by 31st of this month.  I have just got back from trying to register my two and the Council hasn't even got the forms to fill in yet!!!  I have always found them hopeless to deal with but this really takes the cake.  They have taken my name and address and will post me a form when they eventually get around to getting them.  *sigh*

I took one of my camisoles out of the drawer yesterday, intending to wear it, only to find that both shoulder straps had been eaten.  It would have happened a couple of weeks ago from memory, so hopefully the straps have digested by now and won't cause any problems in the future.  In the meantime I will either have to replace the straps with something or throw away the camisole.  I have already bought a rather nice apron for spinning and hopefully the ties are not suckable.  nevertheless, I am keeping it in a pillowcase with my spinning.

I have been very lax about getting on with spinning the black corridale, what with a house guest and a generally achy body which seems to be recovering now so I need to get back to it.  Especially as I received the first 100 ounces of the Rosewood dyed tops from America with another nine to follow when the producer has time to do it for me ... and my Turkish spindle from The Isle of Wight arrived today as well; and the extra 200 gms of 'Storm' are on their way from New Zealand so I have plenty to keep me busy .  But I need to go out and buy some more knitting needles; I seem to have every size but the one I want and they are straight metal ones and I have got used to using the round ones.

Here is a picture of one of my plaits of 'Rosewood'.  I hope that I will have enough to make a jumper.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A glutton for punishment

I have ordered another 200 gms of 'Storm' after days of wondering if I ever wanted to tackle spinning it again; but I realised that I really don't have enough to knit anything meaningful from the 500gms which I have spun.  A scarf or a pair of mittens is about all I would manage and there is a vest which I would like to knit with it.  So I will gird up my loins and tackle some more of it.  Spinning a kilo of plain black will probably call for a bit of light relief anyway, especially since I seem to be spinning much thinner with the more easily handled fibre and therefore it is taking longer.  I am still waiting for my set of bamboo needles, though, and might have to go shopping for some since I finished the Quaker Stretch Scarf, which turned out better than I had expected.

I have had D1 staying with me for the last few days while she attends a conference here in Perth.  She will be leaving for the airport straight from the conference tomorrow and I will be spending the day with my brother-in-law's widow.  (Himself says that she is NOT a sister in law although I disagree with him on that).  She is over from Melbourne and has a few things she needs my help to do.  She saved my sanity when I was in Victoria when my sister was ill so I feel I owe her just about anything she asks of me and giving her a day of my time is very small beer.

I promised to post a photo of the cats on their second birthday but they refused to either pose or to jointly get within camera range so I have taken a picture of them this morning, asleep on top of Parsifal's igloo which he prefers with the top squashed in.  I am allowed to restore its igloo shape so that he can have a quick smurgle in it but then he jumps on the top to squash it in again. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Black on black; eyestrain on eyestrain

I have started spinning the black corridale tops and I am going to have to rig up a light in order to see when to move the hook along.  But that is nothing compared to the difficulty I had spinning the "Storm" tops ... which turned out surprisingly well after all my complaints.  I am even considering getting some more because there really isn't enough to knit anything but a scarf and one can need only so many scarves.

I have ordered about a kilo and a half of painted tops from USA and with luck that should be enough for a sweater.  But I need to finish with the black corridale first and as spinning it is a piece of cake after "Storm" I am spinning finer and should have enough for a jacket of some sort.

The cats have taken over the woolly jacket I bought to put on when the sea breeze whistles in so I need another one; although summer is on its way  -  sort of. 

It is the cats' second birthday tomorrow so I will take a photo of them and post it.  Parsifal is quite a big cat and very chatty with a huge vocal range.  Poppy is quieter and is the first cat I have ever heard actually say "mieuw".  She is very cuddly and is always curled up on the bed when I wake up in the morning and she has finally accepted that being brushed is a pleasurable pastime.

D2 has both of her cats back and Chloe is recovering from her near-death experience.  Willow has a cut on her nose and a bit of a limp after falling eight floors down onto a shade sail which must have broken her fall.  I am really glad that my cats' breeder insisted on me having my balcony screened as cupboards and apron strings are hazards enough without having to worry about Falling Cat Syndrome.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bhangbhangduc! (with thanks to Terry Pratchett)

There was high drama today when a drink driver did a U-turn into the oncoming traffic on Stirling Highway in front of my apartment, hit a Mazda driven by a very young girl who must have been shattered , veered off the road and hit three police officers who were walking along the footpath minding their own business.  He failed a breath test and when his car was searched drugs were found so he has been taken into custody. 

The highway was blocked off through Claremont, there was crime scene tape across the road, dozens of police and cameramen ... and three helicopters circling overhead.  I spent some time this morning watching the proceedings and drinking coffee.  I had a bird's eye view.

This afternoon Herself, Himself's brother and his wife, who were in the area dropped in to meet the cats.  Parsifal disgraced himself by making a small puncture hole in the wrist if Himself's brother's wife but I think that he only wanted to sniff her hand and she kept on moving it away.

And this evening I helped D2 to bath her poor little cat, Chloe, who was missing for five weeks and is still too weak to manage herself to the litter tray.  She is pitifully thin but getting good care so I hope that she makes it.  She has been in hospital for the last week, on a drip, so mobility was going to be difficult for her anyway.  When I got home Parsifal sniffed every last square centimetre of the hand I used to hold her while D2 shampooed and rinsed her.  He is a very curious cat.

I have finished spinning the "Storm" yarn and it is dry and skeined.  It actually turned out rather well but no more commercial blends for a while.  I have a kilo of black corridale which I can now start on and that should be infinitely easier than '"Storm".  I was going to start to knit it but realised that I needed some circular needles in the correct size so that will have to wait until after the Royal show is finished for the year as it is not a lot of fun driving around the area while some of the roads on the other side of the railway line are closed.  Maybe next week ...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gone !

I made a big push today and finished spinning the "Storm" blend.  It took me all afternoon and I have just finished the last small amount this evening.  Once it is plied off the bobbins I can start on the black corridale and start knitting "Storm" as I have found a pattern and I am hoping that there will be sufficient yarn for it.  The problem with spinning to knit is that one is never sure that there will be enough to finish the project.

The cats have a birthday coming up soon and I have ordered a small cat tree for them,  to go against the kitchen counter so that they don't have to jump a metre down onto hard tiles.  Whether or not they will use it I am not sure but it will be something new for them to explore.

The new outside litter dome is very popular but I think that only Parsifal uses it.  It is certainly effective as far as keeping out the weather goes.  We have had it very wet and windy with rain coming right over the balcony and it only clumps where it should.

D2 lost one of her cats five weeks ago and someone found her yesterday, very thin and weak but recovering in hospital.  And two days ago the other cat disappeared.  Her apartment is eight floors up and although there was a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing the day the first cat disappeared, D2 can't work out how the second one disappeared as there was no body and if someone took her to the vet with injuries she is microchipped and therefore D2 would have been contacted, if only to pay the bills.

It is all very strange and I am glad that my cats' breeder insisted that I screened my balcony.  Not that they don't try to get out into the passage but there is nowhere for them to go from there unless someone is using the lift and I can't imagine any of the people on this level would let an unaccompanied cat ride down in the lift.  And anyway, everybody up here knows I have cats  -  there is a sign on the door "Cats Rule".

Just a note to say that Willow, D2's second cat, appears to have jumped off the 8th floor balcony, landed on a shade sail in the garden below and found herself trapped in an enclosed courtyard.  Someone heard her crying out and D2 and sundry others from her apartment block participated in a rescue.  She has a sore jaw and is limping a bit but is otherwise unhurt.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Going, going ... !

I have finished bobbins three and four of the "Storm" blend which I bought from Ashcroft.  Now that I have accepted that it will be a novelty-type yarn I just want to get it finished.  Tomorrow afternoon I can ply it off the bobbins and there is then only enough left for two half bobbins and I am done:  the equivalent of five 100gm skeins.

Several knitting pattern books arrived yesterday with some really nice patterns but I am not sure that I will have enough yarn for anything except, perhaps, a scarf and mittens.  I am going to have to knit a test piece and do some serious calculations, especially since it is unevenly spun with bumps of white silk.

D2 arrived with coffee and cakes this afternoon and she said that she may be able to collect D1 from the airport on 11th October.  D1 will be staying until the 16th when I am contracted to spend the day with SIL1 to whom I owe a huge favour so will be doing some to-ing and fro-ing for most of the day.  She wants to see where her husband and our mother-in-law are buried which is the least I can do for her.

Tomorrow I only have one client so it will be a restful day but I will need to take the Win 8 computer just in case.  Next week is Show Week; not a good time to live in Claremont ...

Monday, September 16, 2013

What is an apron string between friends?

Yesterday afternoon I left my spinning apron rolled into a ball with all its strings firmly hidden but shortly afterwards I realised that Parsifal (Parsifal, of course who else?) had found it, unrolled it and was busy swallowing one of the ties.  Luckily is was still attached to the apron and I pulled 41cm out, along with a lot of mucus and froth.  I am going to have to replace the ties on both spinning aprons so that I don't have to worry about where I put them and how I store them.

My blending board arrived yesterday, along with a kilo of black tops (dyed black, not black sheep black) and a small bag of colours for blending.  The diz I ordered arrived separately today (isn't diz a wonderful word  -  like zill ... good for scrabble).  This morning I found the small bag, full of toothmarks and with a small amount of the wool protruding and the same with the kilo of black.  I have now stored them in the last of my cotton bags and will have to resort to using pillow cases until I clear the backlog.  I guess that it keeps me on my toes but it would be nice if I didn't have to be conscious of anything linear and where it is.

To be honest, I am still glad that I chose Parsifal over his brother.  He is such a loveable, intelligent cat and another owner might have given up on him or left him to block up and die in pain.  There are things which he seems to have coped with, such as the drive band from my spinning wheel and the tie from my hoodie, neither of which ever appeared again in any form but they were cotton and probably digested, along with the tie from my other spinning apron which disappeared some time ago.  

I need to talk to D3 and see if she has some spare calico which I can use for thicker, stronger apron strings.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Storm in a teacup

I have spun, plied and skeined the first fruits of the 'Storm' merino/silk mix fibre from New Zealand and it has turned out better than I expected, considering the swearing and cursing I did while I was spinning it.  The lumps of silk are not as obvious as I thought that they would be and the pills of fibre, according to D3, are called noiles and are supposed to be there to give texture.  It is a bit overplied in a couple of places but has the required three twists in the skein before washing and hanging and is useable.  I should get three 200gm skeins as the whole bump weighed 600gms which should hopefully give me enough for a vest.

The black corridale should be arriving today as the tracking record shows that it is on its way from Osborne Park so I shall be busy for a while.

Tomorrow is GB2's 10th birthday and I have bought her "Ballet Shoes" by Noel Streatfield.  I hope that it is not too old for her  - it is about kids her age and it is time she moved out of the cat mode and into girly things like ballet and ponies.  I couldn't find any pony books except Black Beauty which I cried hot tears over when I was about her age, but ... 

This post is really to show the Storm skein as http://www.ravelry.com squares the pictures and the ends of the skeins don't show.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spinning can be un-fun

I have just finished spinning the second bobbin of my merino/silk mix and I am not enjoying the experience; it is the hardest thing that I have ever spun and that includes the cotton ball.  Thank goodness I only bought 500 gms because even after only two bobbins I am tempted to give up.  The silk seems to have been thrown in without separating it at all so that it is in a lump and refuses to be drawn.  That means that the thread is bumpy and very uneven.  There are also little pills of wool going through, most very small but some as big as the head of a silk pin.  Maybe they will fall out when I ply the stuff but I am not holding my breath so it will probably pill when I wear it.  I had intended to knit it into a vest and if I don't give up on it that is what I will do (supposing that I have enough).  It actually looks quite pretty, even to a degree the white chunks of silk, because it catches the light and glistens; unusual but effective.

There is some corridale tops on its way and when my blending board arrives I will be blending it myself.  It is black and I have ordered a pack of autumn colours which I will blend sparingly through half of the black and ply it with the other half which will have no colour added.  That is the plan, anyway.  I have got to get through this lot first but it has been a lesson to me to be careful what I wish for ...

It is a horrible day  -  gale force southerly winds and heavy rain.  There are no yachts out on the river today.  Luckily GB1's regatta was last weekend or it would have had to be cancelled ... there is no way that they could have sent 12-year-olds out in single-handed yachts in this weather.

Both cats are currently out on the balcony; their choice but as soon as it starts raining again they will want to come back in again.  I refuse to leave a door open for them  -  it is far too cold and windy but maybe they are feeling the need for some fresh air.  It is going to start raining again an a few minutes so I will let them in when they ask.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Picture perfect

I have finally spun a skein which I am perfectly happy about.  It is almost back to my old standard of spinning but there are a couple of buts.  No.1 is that there is only 200 gms of it so goodness knows what I will knit .  There is another matching skein but it is thicker and softer, being more loosely plied so maybe I could knit the back of a vest in one and the front in another ... it would be warm if not very pretty.

The second but is that I am now spinning the "storm" blend which I purchased from Ashford and it is a b****r to spin, being slippery but hard to draw so it will end up as a novelty yarn and probably morph into a scarf.  I only have 500 gms so there isn't really enough for anything else and it will probably make a very pretty scarf.

Himself had to give a lecture this morning so I was on my own at COTA, with one client for the whole two hours which she cut short after about 95 minutes.  Two hours is too long so hopefully she will remember some of what I told her; it is rather an information overload and she didn't take any notes.

This entry is really all about posting a picture of my perfect skein.  Click on the picture to enlarge it in all its glory.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

All spun out.

After a marathon spinning effort during which I spun for at least an hour per day I have processed all but about 90gms of the tops which I bought to run in and get used to the feel of E.Roberta.  I am spinning fairly consistently and much finer now and am ready to have a try at the grown-up stuff.  I have 500gms of a mixture of silk and merino fibre in magenta, grey and white which should make a nice scarf and maybe a pair of mittens if I can spin fine enough.

I have also ordered 1 Kilo of black corridale tops and a small pack of seven autumn colours to make a sweater with autumn highlights  -  if I can master the blending board when it finally arrives.  It should be an interesting exercise.

It takes me about four hours to fill a bobbin so, with plying each skein will take me between nine and ten hours ... and then there is the knitting.  I think that I have found a knitting pattern for E.Roberta's first offering which has improved as I progressed and is therefore of very mixed quality.  It is a tabard  -  very chunky and if I don't have enough yarn I can leave it without sleeves.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thank goodness that's over!

Today is election day on Australia and I went out early to cast my vote because the weather forecast said that it was going to get stormy with thunder and heavy rain later in the day.  I got a bit wet but nothing to fuss about and now it is fine and sunny.  Never believe what you read online.  Anyway, after five weeks of nothing but nasty politics in the news we will hopefully get some respite after the tally count.

I am babysitting the grandbabies tonight and the poor little things will probably be bored out of their minds because nothing will prevent me from watching the vote count.

I have finished knitting the yuckie pink thing and have two small skeins of yarn left; mittens, maybe?  Anyway some gorgeous fibre has arrived from New Zealand and as I am almost finished spinning the kilo of tops  which I have used to sort out the settings and quirks of E.Roberta I feel ready to tackle something more fancy.  I don't know what I am going to do with my current spinning, though.  It is rather from the ridiculous to the sublime, very chunky and as it is not greasy and therefore "fluffed" it is very soft and light.  I must compare it with some washed yarn I spun 20 or so years ago on E.Emma 'in the grease' to see if I am anywhere near the quality which I used to spin.

I have a couple of blending boards and a diz somewhere in the ether and am thinking of getting a picker because my thumbs are not going to be able to cope with combing greasy locks; they are already complaining about my spinning.  I am trying to spend about one hour each day spinning and trying to do at least 30 minutes of yoga and meditate as well so I am keeping very busy which is good but it is mainly because I am not reading much; I don't like most of the books which are around at the moment and what reading I do is mostly re-reading my favourites.

The cats think that it is spring and are very excited because the ravens are back on the roof and the weather is not so cold so they are spending more time on the balcony where they can swear at the birds.  I have bought them a new 'dome' litter tray for the balcony.  The one I had there before was an open one and when the rain was blown over the litter it set solid.  Parsifal, of course, used the new one four times the day I installed it but hasn't used it since.  He really does like to 'own' everything new.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Techie came today and connected my Windows 8 laptop to my network so now I have computers 'minniemagnus' and 'minniemini' both connected and I can transfer data without having to use a thumb drive.  minniemagnus is also connected to the printer as I am tending to use her more and more as one of my main computers and the more I use her the more I actually like Windows 8.

My yesterday's client has a Windows 8 laptop but he has had the start screen option installed so I kept on getting lost trying to find things on his computer and it hasn't got a touch screen and he didn't bring his mouse or dongle with him as he "just wanted to sort and file his photos".  I had to lend him my mouse as dragging and dropping would have been beyond him on a touch pad.  With the number of unfiled photos he has I would not have fancied trying to do it using the touch pad myself.

I have finished spinning E.Roberta's bobbin No.5 (although I think that I should discount the first two which were so bad that the piece I knitted from them is going to be presented to Poppy who will probably love and cherish it.  Bobbins 3 & 4 are presentable and knittable as chunky but No.5 is getting quite fine and I am looking forward to doing the next one and seeing what it looks like plied.

I use clumping, flushable litter for the cats and when I tried to clean out the outside litter tray I found that, with all the rain we have been having, the litter had set rock hard so yesterday I bought one of those dome litter trays.  Parsifal thinks that it is wonderful and that all boys should be able to go outside for their toileting; I may need to get a second one.  I dosed them with Catlax today; they are both molting.  Parsifal licked it off my fingers but Poppy doesn't think that is quite polite so I had to rub it into her paws.  She is the first cat I've owned who didn't lick it up and ask for more. *sigh*

I have made overtures to buy a Turkish spindle from a lady who makes the most beautiful spindles I have ever seen and am hoping to buy at least one of them.  I can see that, like my collection of Tarot cards, I am going to be buying and collecting Turkish spindles because they are so pretty.  But I will use them  -  they are so very portable.

Monday, August 19, 2013

No hair left and I've phoned Techie

This morning I tried to download the trial version of MS Office's latest offering but it would only load 80%, try as I would, so I tried to uninstall it from Control Panel but it just kept on churning over and over so I tried a reboot.  I got a message not to unplug as it was downloading 50 updates.  That took about six hours.  I decided to go for Office 2013 instead but from a disc rather than trying to download from Microsoft so I went out and bought it but I kept on getting an error message.  When I was directed to the MS site I found that there were pages of people with the same error message and no solution that I could find.

That is when I phoned Techie who should be able to get here in a couple of days to fix things if he can.  He did warn me that there were problems with Windows 8 but I can't simply tell my clients that they should abandon their computers and buy themselves an Apple Mac instead.

Other than word processing, minnie magnus is working fine and I have pinned Wordpad to the task bar so that I have a word processor.  I prefer to teach word processing in Wordpad anyway as it is simpler to understand.  Its problem is that it reverts to Word as soon as it is saved.  Hmmmm  -  I wonder what will happen if I create a document and save it on minnie magnus.  I'll probably stuff up its already addled brain.  I'd better do it before Techie comes to sort things out; I wouldn't want to waste his time having to come back again.

On a more positive note, my jumbo wool winder arrived today so I have wound a skein of the yuckie pink and can now resume knitting ... and I ordered a very pretty medium weight Turkish spindle from a man who handcrafts them on the Isle of Wight.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to tear out your hair in one easy lesson

I have spent the day setting up my new Windows 8 laptop and it is now working, on the whole, as a computer should.  I managed to get my iinet mail working by downloading the Live Essentials app and then synching it in.  I can't remember just how I synched it but I then had to delete about 300 emails which had crossed from this computer (my desktop Win 7).

It told me that I needed at least 16gb of thumb drive to make a backup and recovery drive in case it goes belly-up but the 16gb thumb drive I bought only had 14.4 capacity so I had to take it back and get a 32gb one instead.  So I now I have a backup drive, some shortcuts on my desktop, have rearranged all the little icons on the start screen, loaded some photos into My Pictures, put a signature onto my emails, sent myself a couple of emails to make sure that it is all working, deleted the preview pane etc, etc.

I was going to spend the day spinning but it is almost 6.00pm (and I had to change the clock which was showing Eastern States time) so not much chance of that now.  It is only vaguely connected to this main computer and I will ask Techie to come and network it and check that there is nothing else that I need to do.  And I think that I need to get the latest version of MS Office.  I have the 2003 version and it loaded in but then I realised that I was stuck with Outlook, which I hate, so I took it off again; but the option is always there to put it back again.  I am sure that I have a later version somewhere  -  perhaps I could spend the evening trying to locate it.

And now all I have to do is teach it ......

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Not ANOTHER one !

My bank has been harrassing me about the number of loyalty points which I have accumulated but since anything I buy using them is courier delivered it is difficult as the couriers can never find my apartment.  So I took the cash option and realised that I was not much short of the price of a nice Acer Windows 8 laptop computer.  At COTA we now have two clients with Windows 8 and the surface, although a great starter, is not going to be adequate  -  the screen is too small for starters and is hard to read.  It can be zoomed but then not much of the page shows.

Anyway, I claimed my cash and bought the laptop and spent the rest of the afternoon setting it up.  I can't get my iinet mail on it so I phoned iinet but the man I spoke to couldn't help me; it does not support POP.  Yahoo works and so does my web mail and it might sync itself  -  it has done so for most of the contents of my desktop so it may happen yet  -  the Win8 Surface has done so too, so I live in hope.  I can always call on Techie to help me out if all else fails but I am surprised that iinet didn't know.  J. said that all the guys there are having problems sorting out Windows 8 but maybe he was new to the job.

There are a couple of good photo editing apps which I will point out to my current client  -  he is trying to organise his pictures and some are in dire need of a bit of lightening and brightening; and if he wants to send them as email attachments he will need to shrink them as there no longer seems to be an automatic shrink option.

I'll offer to lend the Surface to Himself to help familiarise him but I doubt if he will take up the offer.  We will see.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lost causes

I have given up on the book "The Stalking of Julia Gillard  - how the media and Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister".  It is boring, badly written and getting less and less relevant by the day.  I will put it on the shelf with "The Marmalade Files" and "Downfall" and hopefully treat them as history.

However, it has had a very positive effect on me because I have been finding other things ... anything ... to do rather than sit down and read it so I have been knitting; I have gone as far as I can with the yuckie pink until my jumbo woolwinder arrives from New Zealand.  There is not going to be enough yarn for the serape which I had hoped to make but it will make a very nice scarf  -  one of those ones which are sewn double with a gap so that it works as a hood and scarf.  Damart sells them but they skimp on fabric and this, despite its colour should be a whole lot better.

I have embarked on my fifth bobbin spun on E.Roberta and having read all the sage advice on the Ravelry site regarding settings for E.Robertas I am finally spinning finer and more evenly.  This particular lot of tops is going to make a most peculiar garment  -  thick and very rough and getting finer as she goes.  I still have a sample swatch from my first spinnings from E.Emma and it is much the same; thick and rough but it made a very nice sailing jumper and the swatch is now Poppy's favourite thing.  Luckily neither cat seems inclined to eat it so I am happy to let her keep it.

I have had a second client with a Windows 8 computer but luckily he only wanted to file and label photographs so we spent an hour using the right button.  My computer mantra, of course, is "When all else fails try the Right Button".  I think that I need to progress beyond my little Surface tablet and am looking at a grown-up Windows 8 laptop.  My loyalty credits from my credit card will almost pay for a rather nice Acer which I have my eye on and will probably drop in and buy it in a day or so.  I am sleeping on it at the moment but I think that I am going to need it.  Himself is also going to have to familiarise himself with it so he can borrow the tablet while I work on the laptop.  *sigh*

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Things are a little woolly

I have just acquired a jumbo wool winder from Ashford.  They are a "while stocks last" item so I was lucky that there was one available.  It will be posted off to me tomorrow from New Zealand so the pink thing I am knitting will have to wait as I am almost at the end of the ball and I have three more skeins of the sheep/Samoyed yarn ... not to mention the stuff I spun from Terry's fleece which is still unwashed.  I have already picked out a jumper pattern for that.

I have also found a forum on Ravelry devoted exclusively to E.Roberta.  It seems that they have been available for many years but with leather bearings and no pause pedal.  I'm glad that I waited ...

I had my last Intermediate Yoga class last night and will probably enroll for the next one, mainly because by paying in advance I actually make the time to go instead of making excuses and it is not as crowded as the drop-in sessions are.  I do yoga from DVDs most evenings and am therefore ahead of the class with some of the poses but my balance is dreadful and I still can't do the Tree Pose.

The kittens are both molting and Poppy will only accept a very cursory brushing;  Parsifal rolls around in ecstasy and hasn't a hair out of place, but his tummy is still bald from  his last ultrasound.

I am still struggling to read The Stalking of Julia Gillard  and that is the reason for all this untimely activity in the crafts department.  I am actually knitting and listening to music instead of reading, watching TV or playing computer games so the book has merit after all.

Bring on the election!!  It is a right pain in the ****.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Spinning Tops

I have plied off the second two bobbins of tops which I spun on E.Roberta and there is a noticeable improvement over the first two.  The yarn is better spun and better plied and looks to be getting nearer to the 8-ply which I spin on E.Emma although it is a bit hard to tell since I use greasy wool on Emma and until it is washed it looks much finer as it sticks to itself.

My hand carders arrived yesterday after a couple of trips across the Nullarbor  but I'll wait until I have spun my tops and then perhaps experiment with colours.  But I have a lot of knitting ahead of me and will hopefully finish the hideous pink before I am tempted into anything else.

I was talking to the Zoo Lady about what the veterinary animal behaviorist suggested for Parsifal's little problem and how she had gone into medical mode instead pf psychology mode and I wasn't happy with that and didn't intend to follow it up.  The Zoo Lady suggested giving Parsifal a bottle to give him suck time, so I have bought a pet bottle and some low-salt chicken stock to put in it but am concerned that he will become reliant on his bottle and nag at me for it.  On the other hand it might just be what he needs to get over his past reluctance to being weaned.  

In the mean while I am going to be pro-active and make sure that anything he eats is digestible ... only natural fibres from now on as the stomach acids should be able to deal with cotton, linen, wool and silk.   For some reason he is not in the least bit interested in eating the results of my spinning; only the cotton drive band on E.Emma.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Send me, God, some scarlet ribbons ..."

When I got up this morning I discovered that Parsifal had vomited four times on the tiles with a large deposit on the Persian carpet which contained what looks like the whole of the shoelace which he ate ten days ago.  The poor wee thing looked very upset to have done this to me but I was thrilled and relieved that, at last, I knew where the shoelace had got to.  Obviously it had been lurking in his stomach all the time.  I have washed it and am just waiting for it to dry to compare it to the other lace to make sure that he has rid himself of all of it.

D2 dropped in for a short while and then D3 and SIL arrived to take me to Woolylatte which, as its name suggests, is a cafe which sells knitting products.  I bought the needles which I need to knit up the hideous pink handspun and there, on a shelf, was a knitting book which I had been looking for all over the internet without success.  Yeah!!

So, all in all, it has been a very nice day despite the weather which is far too warm for early August and looks to be brewing a storm.  And it is already raining across the river and the wind is getting up.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Party time - no, NOT the election

There was another late-night booze-up underneath my bedroom window the night before last, starting at about 2.00am and ending around about 4.00am which woke me up and left me fuming.  I shouted down to ask the guys to move inside but received no acknowledgement at all so I tried white noise which worked for a time but after a while my radio turned itself off.

Yesterday I went down to beard the beasts in their lair and met the apartment owner for the first time.  He denied that he had known about the goings-on and that he had gone to bed early and slept through the noise.  I suspect that this explains why they party out on the patio but nevertheless, with the number of empties stacked in cartons by the entrance, he must have been aware that there had been some heavy drinking going on.  I gave him a copy of the rules of behavior expected and told him that I already had a dossier and the next step was the police before I could refer it to the Strata Management.  He promised to ensure that it didn't happen again and last night it was blissfully quiet but I am not holding my breath that it won't happen again.

Parsifal has recovered from his latest brush with a shoelace and is full of beans and belting around the apartment and badgering me for dried fish snacks.  I should stop worrying  -  his system can obviously cope with foreign objects.

I am still struggling with E.Roberta.  All her settings had come adrift but luckily I know approximately where the twist and draw controls should be set ... not that it made a great deal of difference to my spinning which is abysmally bad still.  On Saturday (today is Monday) I spun about half a bobbin and will finish it off as soon as I have time  -  this looks like being a busy week  -  and try to ply this lot better than the last skein which, when I eventually plied it in the right direction, was disastrously short on twist 

I must remember the mantra told to us at our spinning lessons:  spin with a slow treadle and fast hands, ply with a fast treadle and slow hands.  Translating that to E.Roberta means increase the twist for plying, and spin loose.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

All is calm, all is bright-eyed and bushytailed

I've not heard back regarding the present whick Parsifal produced for Dr Sophie but he is eating well happy in himself and back to beating up his sister so whatever the fate of the shoe-lace, it is not disturbing him at this stage.  Bless his little stomach  -  it must be made of cast iron.

GB1 has spent the last two nights with me and will be going home this afternoon after school.  All went fairly happily but he is very picky about his food and I am not sure if it is just my cooking or if he was fretting or maybe just plain picky.  Anyway, he has been getting his lunch from the canteen for the last three days and eats a hearty breakfast.  He approves of my omelets but that might be because he cooks his own at home and I am not turning my precious omelet pan over to just anyone, even if he is my grandson.

The handcarders which I ordered from Ashford on 19th July have returned to sender because, according to the courier, I am not known at my address.  Hopefully when they return to me again there will be instructions to leave it at the post office.  I can't understand why the parcel was not left there the first time around.  Luckily they are not urgently needed and I will get them eventually; probably next Friday.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oh for the life ...

Parsifal has been on a 'poo and barf' watch all day and we finally got a result at about 4.15 this afternoon; a lovely poo (sorry about that but when you think that your cat has an intestinal blockage it is a cause for celebration).  The trouble is that there is either red, disintegrated shoelace on it or there is frank blood and it looks more like blood so I carefully collected it, sealed it into a jar, put it into a ziplock bag and froze it.  It is off to the vet for analysis tomorrow and Dr Sophy has agreed that it is necessary to know because it wouldn't do for him to have bleeding in the bowel.

Sorry about the graphic detains but this blog is my diary of important, and not so important, events in my life and the amount of blood, sweat and tears I have endured over the past 36 hours deserves to be recorded and remembered.

I have GB1 staying with me for a couple of nights because the trains are not running on the Fremantle line for the rest of this week and he would not be able to get to school from his home.  It is only a five-minute walk from my apartment.  He would like to have the babies in bed with him and I thought that wild horses could not have kept them away but they are both out here with me with Parsifal eating up big and toughing Poppy; his usual self again.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not again ... !

Yesterday Parsifal ate one of my new red nylon shoelaces.  He slipped into my wardrobe when I was hanging something up.  Normally I check before I close it up but I didn't realise that he was in there, didn't check and didn't discover where he was until I missed him.

I don't know why this episode worried me more than all the other things he has eaten so we went to see Dr Sophy who sent us off to Osborne Park for another ultrasound.  He had to be sedated, of course; he was quite aggressive with Dr Sophy and I had to hold him by his scruff while she examined him ...  so the Veterinary Imaging Centre had to sedate him to shave his tummy and now, six hours later, he is really only just waking up.  This worries me because I am not sure if his lethargy is due to the sedation or if he is feeling sick  -  although he ate a hearty dinner.  I'll just have to see what tomorrow brings and if he needs to be opened up.  The trouble is that there was food in his stomach (I wasn't expecting him to have it ultrasounded or I would have removed the food) and they were not able to see if the shoelace was still there.

I have contacted a vet who is an animal behaviorist but we have agreed to wait until the issue of the shoelace is resolved before doing anything to try to modify his pica, although I am not so keen on some of the things which she suggested, such as irritable bowel syndrome.  I wish!!!!!

My take on it is that he resented being weaned and sucks on anything which he thinks looks like a suckable appendage.  I would hate to lose him, I would hate to change him and I would hate to see him medicated long-term.  A backflip to all natural fibre for the term of his natural life maybe?  At least cotton and wool should digest.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I am now the owner of a badly spun, badly plied skein of wool which I will probably turn into an interesting scarf. (That is a take-off of Terry Pratchett's book "The Truth".)

I am having trouble getting the tension, twist and draw right on E.Roberta.  I am gradually getting the hang of it.  There is not nearly the control which is possible with a treadle spinning wheel but I will master it eventually; some parts looked almost respectable.  And I forgot to switch it into reverse for the plying and got myself into a terrible tangle before I realised what the problem was, scrapped the botched yarn and started again.  At least E.Roberta is easier on my knees and packs away without taking up a great deal of space.

I am posting a picture of E.Roberta here and at some stage will post one of E.Emma.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tops aren't tops

Yesterday and today I have been working with E.Roberta, trying to get her set up with the best tension for my style of spinning.  That part wasn't too difficult.

What was hard, though, was that I had thought that spinning tops would be easy and bought a kilo of a mix of brown, silver and white tops.( Topmaking mills make wool top, a semi-processed product from raw wool. The process requires that the wool be scoured (washed) and combed and sorted. The longer fibers resulting from the process are called tops, and are in a form ready for spinning.).  I had a great deal of trouble drawing the fibres out; bearing in mind that I hadn't done any serious spinning for over 20 years it was rather a heroic efford and eventually I realised that I needed to divide the tops into its approximate colours and spin with thinner  lengths.

This actually worked and I have filled my first bobbin.  It is not very elegant spinning and it is not very fine but it gets better and I should be able to knit  chunky scarf with the results.  I still have a sample piece of knitting from my very first effort at spinning and it was rather thick and uneven but I made a very nice sailing jumper from the result.  The sample has become Poppy's favourite toy and neither cat seems inclined to eat it although Parsifal managed a mouthful of tops when I wasn't looking.  It got tangled in his teeth and I was able to remove it but the fibres are very fine and I am sure that it would have digested.

I have remembered just how addictive spinning is and can't wait to fill a second bobbin so that I can ply it and see how it looks.

My Windows 8 client didn't turn up on Thursday but I have some notes for her if she comes again.  I suspect that, having been given a start, has begun to work it out for herself ... she is already computer literate.

Monday, July 15, 2013

All that spin

D3 and I met up at Bilby Yarns where I bought 1kilo of blended natural tops all ready for E.Roberta when she arrives.  If I can spin thick enough I will knit myself a bulky jacket to replace the one which the kittens have taken over.  They get quite miffed if I put it on and do their very best to remove it.

I had made a previous visit to Bilby and bought a fleece which I am in the process of combing prior to spinning it on E.Emma since the cats do not seem particularly interested in eating the fleece.  That, of course, may be due to the rather strong smell of naphtha flakes.  All that E.Emma needs is a new drive band and tension it up and I can start spinning.  E.Roberta's agent has predicted that she will arrive tomorrow but I am not holding my breath on that one.  I have already emptied most of E.Emma's bobbins; there are a couple containing yarn still to be plied, an activity which came to a sudden halt when the connection between the treadle and the footman broke.

I am enjoying getting back to spinning even though, at the moment, I am doing the mucky bit with the raw fleece but I love handling that soft, greasy stuff and I am not sure how I will get on with tops.  D3 says that they are very easy to spin and there is no preparation needed but somehow that seems to be cheating  -  simply spinning to knit or weave rather than turning a raw product into something useful.

The weather is horrible at the moment with intermittent pouring rain and thunder and the babies are both stir crazy and are very vocal.  They have been driving me crazy all morning.  Parsifal now sleeps on top of his igloo which he jumps on to squash the top down.  I'd love to be able to read his mind; I've never met a cat so curious and so inventive.