Tales of Butthead & Gooseberry*

Readers can guess which one is which.

Thank you to everyone who offered name suggestions for our new girl, I was somewhat overwhelmed!

But the prize for Instigating, Winning and therefore Closing the "Name that Dog"! competition goes to Ashley with her genius thematic choice of Harper. A little something is winging your way Ashley.
No, it's not a Plasma screen or even some skeins of Koigu in the newly-commissioned dogged colourway, so don't get too excited.

The title: don't you just love Miscellaneous as a catch-all filing category? Synonymous with "That load of paper in that box under there", or "That particularly bulging hanging file right at the back of the filing cabinet containing Mystery Contents to be taken out and marvelled over once a year".

It's my favourite all-time over-used genre. Not that I'm as disciplined with filing as I used to be. When I had an actual office/studio outside of my home, I was a bandit for prompt filing, but these days I seem to end up with more of what I call Denial Piles rather than actual filed stuff. And when you're a freelance designer working on multiple jobs, and you teach as well, you end up with a lot of Denial Piles. That's on top of your personal administration, otherwise known as "Misc."

This is a "Misc.-ey" sort of post.

Yesterday I was reading a very interesting essay by Christine Rosen (via Arts & Letters Daily); a sociological take on the flipside of web version 2.0 that I was banging on about earlier. No conclusions drawn but some very interesting observations.

Further adventures in version 2.0 swappiness and knitting coming very soon! Just as soon as the recipient receives her package safe and sound.

* Four days in, and Harper has already developed a small fan club in the dog park. Last night I was walking her and I heard someone behind me yell "Is that Harper Lee"? When I turned round, it wasn't anyone I -or to my knowledge Harper herself- had ever met before. She'd obviously already been getting some serious loving-up on walks with Goat. There was some debate with this particular lady's friend about whether she was 'just like a hot chocolate', or 'a bit of a latte'. It was decided finally that she was indeed a 'Moccachino'.

Welcome to city life, Harper Lee!

Excuse the appalling pun, I think I've been reading our free Community Newspaper too much lately. Its' Sub Editor really goes overboard with truly groan-inducing pun-age in the headlines.



We have a new member of the family.
A lot sooner than we planned.
She's 9 or 10 months old.
Part Kelpie, part Border Collie.
Failed sheepdog.
Now to become city dog.
Member of our household for 24 hours.
Name... ?

She and Scout are still sorting themselves out.
Unsettled night last night.
Not much sleep for anyone.

Scout doesn't like to share, so this is good for her.
Great playmates though.
This taken during a brief uneasy truce in which she desperately wanted to snuggle up to Scout who in turn grumpily condescended to share her blanket with her.


version 2.0


The buzz phrase I've kept hearing for the last week is Web Version 2.0

Blogging, flickr, ravelry and Facebook (although I haven't gone there despite invitations, I barely have time to maintain a meaningful connection to the first three. That and the fact that I don't like the idea of being poked).
They're all part of this wave.
Finally, perhaps for the first and only time I feel like I'm in the avant !

The village green with a digital interface.

And I'm sure I'm not the first to observe the irony of disseminating handcrafting this way.

Perhaps I should call it the Trading Post with a digital interface, because there's no doubt about the sharing side of this phenomena:

Michele at knitsane and I recently made a yarn swap.

You'll remember Furry Goodness from ages ago.
Well, turns out I'm allergic to alpaca. ( I can knit it, just can't wear it).
Oh the humanity!
Then I noticed how partial to this particular fibre Michele seemed, and idly suggested a swap if she ever felt like taking it in and giving it a good home.

Well, to cut a medium-length story short, this arrived:

Only about an entire goat's worth of delicious mohair!

Beautifully dyed by Michele with natural dyes. Very difficult to capture in a photo, but it has a subtle warmth from Logwood and a silvery blue undertone from Indigo peeking through.
In crude terms, the overall effect is one of warm brownish grey.

Immediately it said to me

Weave me..

Weave me into a fabric of gossamerey warmness that I may be thrown casually yet artfully across your couch (yep, that's right, the one that is currently gutted and awaiting its new upholstery and may very well be grounds for divorce from the other Goat in my life if it's not finished soon! ! !... but I digress) where I may lie resplendent and my subtley variegated hues may cheer you and we will all live happily ever after...

So I've been eyeing off the weaving classes and wondering if I can possibly squeeze another hobby into my life.

Thank you Michele.

How much do we love version 2.0?!

still from Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man '95



of Cloth ,

from the weekend.

I've run out of ideas,

so I thought I'd just shamelessly rip off Alison's fabric piles and hope she won't notice.

By Julie Paterson. Printed hemp and linen.

PS : thanks everyone for your birthday wishes, they were much appreciated.


Window break.

Stress line.
Fault line.
Scar tissue.

I could be getting all Buddhist, but the surprising connectedness of most living things strikes me afresh sometimes.

I knew about tree rings; that the story of an entire tree's life is written there, but until last weekend I had no idea the same was true for a sheep's fleece.

In the shearing shed, where the freshly-thrown fleece is assessed for quality while it's literally still warm from the sheep's body, a swift and brutal criteria is applied to small tufts of fibre pulled from it, not just for micron measurement, but for tensile strength. Basically can it be pulled apart? If it tears it's a disappointing day for the farmer and it's designated to the lower grade bins.

This fleece is not destined to be a Zegna suit.

The gaps that appear in this ignominious tuft appear as window-pane like, hence the name, and indicates a point in the fleece's growth where the sheep was stressed, albeit briefly, which physically affected the follicle, and ditto affected the wool growth at that point.

Or, as Daniel Kiely (sheep farmer, shearer, Extreme Sports enthusiast and Host extraordinaire) would say - assuming the sheep's inner monolgue:

Geez, anythin' 'd stress a sheep right out...

"Ah!, I've fallen in the dam!
Ah! there's me own shadow"! ...

And then the wool's shit, mate !

You may remember that just before last xmas, I adopted a sheep called Bob.

Bob lives with approximately 2,500 odd of his mob on a drought-stricken property Uamby, in north-west New South Wales. A recent invitation to all Adopters to a barbie on Uamby happily coincided not only with my birthday, but also a simmering hankering to get out of the City, so Goat and I took a long weekend off to make the four hour trip.

The fleece that the Kiely's sheep produce (the stuff that passes the window-break test, that is) is super fine merino, and ultimately destined for Italian mills and fine suitings. No yarn, and certainly
nothing for spinners. Michael Kiely tells me it's "too fine" for the local spinners, who prefer something with a higher micron range that they can "grab a hold of".

It was a fine day: bush bashing in the back of a splintery old ute for a
mini-muster (really just an excuse to show off some highly skittish lambs and their protective mothers), the dry, dry prickly land palpable underfoot.

Much alcohol and enormous lunch in the shade at the back of the house attended by thousands of the most tenacious flies ever. (These are tough bush flies mate, none of this sissy City 'just-brush-them-away' rubbish here. No, you have to forcefully manhandle them right off your beef).

Followed by some shearing up in the shed.

Oh, the shed, the magic, magic light of the
Shearing Shed which imparted its' magical glow to every under-exposed, ill-composed photo I could snap.

Built around the turn of last century, it's a gem of pragmatic, vernacular architecture.
Corrugated iron, raw sapling posts and gates, smoothed down to a golden satin patina by ninety years of lanolin-coated shearers' hands.

Incidentally, none of the wool that was shorn that afternoon passed the strength test, which speaks volumes about the kind of stress the sheep are under at the moment. If you're interested in adopting a sheep (it is coming up to xmas, like you need reminding), you can read more about it here.

The final humiliation of the day for Scout who had been hanging out with Lucy, Ravi and Kodie the sheepdogs all day (actually 6 month old puppy Kodie is not shaping up to be that good a sheepdog, but that's another post), was having to be physically lifted into the back of the ute by Farmer Daniel. She is indeed a "soft paw dog".
A city dog.

This is more Scout's speed when it comes to bush bashing.

A room with a view of it.
Preferably from the comfort of a soft cushion.
In some nice shade.
With snacks provided.

Poor Scout. It's tough I tell ya, mate.

As many photos of the Uamby/Mudgee experience as you can handle here. I only took, oh, about 150. I did edit them down, really I did.



We're at the end of our walk in the park and I'm thinking "What is that noxious pong"??
My first impulse is to check the bottoms of both shoes: sometimes the dog park grass is booby-trapped.
Nope, all clear there.
Smells like someone's put down a load of Blood + Bone fertiliser on some garden bed close-by.
But there are no garden beds close-by.
Really smells like something's dead, and not freshly.

Then I'm wondering where Scout is and of course she has not only located the source of said pong, but is busily rolling around in it, joyously grinding it in.
I don't know what it was, and I don't want to know.
So not in the mood for this on this particular afternoon.

Straight back into the yard, Scout held firmly between clenched legs, she gets thoroughly shampooed and hosed off. I know, I know, water restrictions! Let that just be between you and me, dear Reader. ( I only used a bucketful and I'm very water-wise elsewhere, really I am Officer!! )

Scout does her best to look sheepish and hardly-done-by ... alas she will never
ever make the abstract connection between this particular Cause and Effect. Yeah, it's funny now.

Speaking of abstract, someone asked me during the week

"So, what's the difference between a concept and a theme anyway"?

Put simply, I can illustrate not only the answer to that, but also vessel wednesday in one fell swoop! Talk about efficiency!

I came across this object design company today . . . check out Ron Gilad's amazing work, particularly his fruit bowls like this one:
(And it's a beautifully designed website too by the way).

photo: designfenzider

that is pushing abstraction further.

Thankyou everyone for your lovely feedback on the Clessidras (I'm really going to take better photos this weekend) and for your kind commiserations on the feet thing.
It's truly amazing how quickly posting a photo of your feet in socks and shoes on the internet brings out the foot fetishists! Why am I not surprised? On the Disturbing Factor Scale, I'd only rate it about a 4.5 - 5 but still, it's enough.

Now, we all know how wildly popular sock knitting is in the blogosphere and how much we all love to document, pose and publish our socky creations.
So I'm left wondering . . . has anyone else experienced this?

* pong = really truly offensive odour


FO: Clessidra

I was so excited to finish these I haven't even bothered to weave in the ends.
I'll have to take some better photos of these during the week.

Pattern: by
for Knitty, Spring 2007.

: Rubi + Lana 3ply Merino in Charcoal. 160 grams (just over one and a half large balls)

There have been screeds ruminating through my mind as I made them, but not having taken scientific notes (that would mean putting down the needles to write), I find now that my mind is strangely blank. I will say that I did find the pattern difficult to follow in some parts, but I will hastily qualify
that with the observation that I just think my mind works quite differently to the author's. For the second one I pretty much ignored the pattern and just copied the first sock. Aside from my equivocal relationship to the cabling (let's just say getting to the stockinette part feels like being released from a medium security detention centre), it flew off the needles, relatively speaking.

When I took them off, my feet looked like this

cless scarification

And I decided to photograph them.

I thought "Bloody hell, am I really going to post these shots, or is this simply for my own idle amusement"?
However, I was inspired by Ashley's bravery in a recent 365 days series and even hannabirke's recent refreshly honest self portraits to take a deep breath and include it.

My feet are my unloveliest part.
Good ol' German Peasant root-stock; good for keeping yourself sturdily upright while you milk the cows I guess. (Maybe that's why I've always loved Botticelli's renderings of the human foot.They make the roundly, palely bulbous seem so aesthetically pleasing).

And before my sisters howl me down that I have betrayed the Feminist Ethos by admitting this, I base this purely on objective aesthetic grounds. I'm sure even our Germaine probably secretly loathes her left elbow or somesuch.

And so I do find it strange that I should invest so much time and effort into an adornment for my feet, knowing what an ambivalent relationship I have to them, or even that I want to knit socks at all considering they are summarily stuffed into shoes and hidden away from view.
All that angst over toe shaping!

It is curious.



is for Gadget,

A borrowed one.
Which is calling out to me (in an accent just like Sen from Spirited Away)
But which is also safely stashed out of my sight until I get my wee deadline out of the way tomorrow.
But come the weekend, I suspect I will be printing like there's no tomorrow.

But right now it's time for...
( to the tune of Heart from Damn Yankees, in a cha cha tempo preferably. I wish someone would come up with a little widget so you could put a 'sing-a-long' bouncing ball across the blog page)
In honour of the increasing temperatures in this hemisphere and the dropping ones in the other but with the sweet anticipation of toasty knitted goodness...

You gotta have warmth!
[cha cha cha, cha cha cha]

Miles and miles and miles of warmth!

[etc...] *

Or 217.41 yards of it to be precise.

Cake of Qiviuk all the way from Banff, via the Wild Canadian Arctic Muskox no less, and of course the Inuvialuit People who harvest the fibre. Thanks Goat!
The women who sold it said

You're going to make someone verrry happy", and guess what, she was right.

Move over Cashmere, you are
so last year!

This stuff is unbelievably soft; quite hairy with a delicate halo and reputedly thermal-warm (it does have to keep the oxen alive in the Tundra). I think it will have to live in its own little bag until just the right project comes along. I've noticed on ravelry there's a whole book devoted to Arctic Lace , and it seems to make intuitive sense to marry the two, but then I could just be going through a Purist phase.

And while I'm still banging on about warmth (I was thinking tonally warm, but I guess it's also materially warm), I'm fascinated by this from Prada.

The fabric of the coat seems to ombre down from a black/dark chocolate brown wool into a soft umber silk (I'm guessing at the fibres here) actually in the weave, and I just can't stop thinking about how it's done. I really want to learn weaving so I can explore the world of the weft and the warp.

* it's even better with props. I use Peter Allen's old maracas, which I won on ebay.**

**I wonder how many people will believe that's true?


Memo to Self:

Blog more frequently.

I mean it's not like I haven't had ample opportunity. Uni's been on Semester break, Goat's been away so I've been slobbin' around the bachelor lifestyle. No camera to distract me.

Actually, I think that's it.

This morning, after photographing piles of yarn for absolutley no good reason,
I realised not only how much I missed the camera, but also how fresh visual stimulus drives my blogging. Without it I just grind down til mute.

an homage to the Queen of the Pile.
From top to bottom: Rowan Summer Tweed, Rubi + Lana 3ply (Clessidra), and Eki Riva Sport baby alpaca (Furry Goodness).

This alpaca scarf was one of the first things I knitted. I still love the yarn. It may be unparalleled in sheer drapeyness, softness and general lusciousness, but my god!, am I allergic to it or what?
As of tonight, it's frogged -reminding me all the while of all those ends painstakingly wound in while watching Mildred Pierce- (if you ever need motivation for steely-nerved pains-taking, that movie will do it! ), wound and then sent sailing off to a much deserved loving home! Which I'm very glad about.

Stay tuned for some rare Qiviut sightings! (link to Knitters Review...info is halfway down the page).