Archive for June, 2008



29 June 2008

I think it’s agreed that to make a Happy Old Woman, a completely random act of kindness goes a long way.  That being the case, I’m an extreme HOW at the moment!

A couple of months ago, Petunia, a friend I’ve made through our blogs and who lives in Delaware, had a mouth-watering picture of six skeins of yarn of various alpaca/merino/silk lace combinations that Knitpicks was selling as a “taster” pack.  The particular one she liked was called Wine Tasting.  6 skeins of 50g each of gorgeous wine colours. 

She loved them.  I loved them.  She said she wasn’t going to buy them because she didn’t “need” them.  I said I wasn’t going to buy them because Knitpicks won’t ship to Oz (and, if the truth be known, I don’t need them either, particularly as I have some wonderful yarn waiting to be worked on, courtesy of my friend Sue in Bristol). 

On Thursday, this parcel arrived in the post.  I cried.

Petunia's present 

As usual my photography isn’t up to much!  The colours as shown don’t look much like wine, but take my word for it.  They really are wonderful burgundies, maroons and general “winy” colours.   

I found the generosity of spirit, time and money from someone I’ve never met to be overwhelming.

She told me that she felt it would be cruel not to buy a set for me as she was buying one for herself.  She likened it to having a chocolate cake in the house and not offering it round to guests.  David’s comment on that was “You’re supposed to hand it round?”

I showed it off to the knitters in the Rubi and Lana group and they were VERY jealous!   A number of people asked how they could become your friend too.

Thank you SO much.  You made my day, my week and my month.    


Rent Assunder

25 June 2008

In the 70’s and 80’s (at least in England and Australia) the Government did all it could to make us into Capitalists.  Buy a House!  Buy Shares!  Send Your Children to Private Schools!  It seemed that anything that got us into more debt was OK by them.  The cynic in me thinks that maybe while we were all consumed with worry about paying for all this, we couldn’t spare the time or effort to bother about what the Government was up to.

Children in detention centres?  Very sad, but I’m not sure how I’m going to pay my own children’s school fees this month.  People sleeping on the streets?  Well, at least they haven’t got to find the money to pay a mortgage. 

And while it doesn’t seem very principled, I can mainly understand it.  Most people’s first priority is to make sure that their family is housed and fed and until they’ve sorted that out, they have neither the money nor the will to deal with other people’s problems.  And I think that’s probably the way Governments like it. 

Families used to think they were quite well off if they had a roof over their head, bills paid and children clothed and fed.  We have now decided though that not only must people who pay rent rather than a mortgage be poor, they are also fiscally stupid, intellectually inferior and, certainly in Australia, they are practically considered second-class citizens.

A friend of mine, Jejune, has been spitting blood about this as a result of an ANZ Bank advertisement on television here.  Bank Manager turns up at private house, with pretty model and a posse of press, to present an award to one of their mortgage holders.  The man who answers the door says “But we pay rent”.  The trophy is grabbed out of his hands, the entire mob looks at him with contempt and off they trot to find a more worthy recipient.

And last week, the demonisation of tenants reached new lows, led by the ABC no less.  A truly horrific crime was discovered in Queensland when 18 month old twins were found dead in their cots, apparently starved to death (they weighed about the same as new-born babies).  The family was described by the journalist as “living in a rental property”.  What on earth is that about? 

Paying rent, not a mortgage = being irresponsible = neglecting and abusing your children? 

A strange equation, me thinks.


For The Love of Ravelry . . . Part 3

22 June 2008

Ravelry is great!  There’s no two ways about that.  This week for instance I was able to find what other people had made with 100 grams of Manos del Uruguay Silk, check out loads of patterns, and download a free one (and yesterday I started knitting it).   When I think of how we had to search for patterns in the past, then decide whether they’d suit the yarn we’d got THEN have the problem that a lot of shops wouldn’t allow you to buy the pattern without the yarn (do you remember that?).  Ravelry in particular and the internet in general has made it all so easy.

HOWEVER, there’s always a downside!  And in the case of Ravelry I think it’s the forums. 

When I first started using the internet for knitting-related searches, I read the forums eagerly, picked up loads of tips  and read interesting articles.   When I first joined Ravelry I did the same.  But if I read one more thread like these, I think I’ll scream:

 1,   I’m flying from Sydney to London.  Will I be able to knit?   (Answer – How many times do you have to be told NO?)

2.   I’m thinking of buying interchangeable needles.  Which should I get?  (Answer – Depends.  On personal preference, wallet, type of knitting you do etc etc).

3.   If I buy a pattern, am I allowed to sell the items I knit from it?  (Answer – No.  But let’s not get into an argument about copyright which believe it or not varies from country to country and we don’t all live in America).

Would it not occur to people to see if their question has already been answered before they re-pose it?

Then we have the downright bizarre:

1.   I want to knit this sweater for my sister in such and such yarn.  What colour should I choose?  (Answer – Haven’t got the faintest.  Don’t know you; have never met your sister)

2.   My wrists are hurting from too much knitting.  How should I treat it?  (Answer – The way you treat any medical problem.  Consult someone who knows what they’re talking about.  Not a bunch of unqualified strangers).

3.   I’m thinking of travelling to Sydney/London/Paris/wherever.  How far is it from the airport to the city?  What sights do you recommend?  (Answer – You’re confusing Ravelry with a tourist guide.  Consult a more appropriate website). 

4.   (And this is my all-time favourite, though admittedly not on Ravelry but on another knitting forum).  I’ve got some 100% wool.  What should I knit with it?  (Answer – One woman replied to this with “I’ve just bought a new piano.  What do you suggest I play?”)

Look, I know that idiots are everywhere and why should Ravelry be immune.  But sometimes ploughing through this dross to see if there’s anything interesting is really more than I can bear at the end of a hard day’s work.  So I think I’ll just stick to the Australian Knitters Group in future, where I know a lot of the people, many of them I count as friends,  and there’s little garbage. 

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David Went to England . . . .

15 June 2008

And look what I got!

I gave him a list of 4 items I’d like from Get Knitted but as I didn’t know exactly what they’d have in stock AND didn’t want him to spend all his holiday money on me, I said he’d really only have to get one of them.  But just to make sure he didn’t lose the list or forget to go, I also sent it to our friend in Bristol where he was staying for the first few days.  Sue’s a knitter and I think didn’t need much of an excuse to visit Get Knitted so before he got there, she went off to get my purchases. 

BUT . . .  she bought ALL the yarn on the list.  AND she gave it to me as a present! 

Some items had very limited stock (I’d already picked that up from their website) so her colour choices weren’t large , but she did great!

First off was Handmaiden Seasilk which I’ve always wanted to try.  I’ve seen some really beautiful items made in it.  There’s 400m of it so I’m planning to make a stunning summer stole.

Handmaiden SeaSilk.JPG

Secondly, Fyberspates Merino Tencel Sock Yarn – 200gms/600m.  As you know I don’t knit socks but love all these wonderful hand-dyed variegated sock yarns as you can make really gorgeous items with them.  I’ve got a few ideas for that.


Then a skein of Manos del Uraguay Silk Blend – 30% Silk and 70% Merino Wool.  270m.  No plans for that yet.

Manos Del Uraguay.JPG

And finally 3 balls of Opal Hundertwassers Sock yarn – 300gm/1275m.  I’ve had an idea in my head for that for months and am about a third of the way through it (hence the picture shows only two balls).

Opal Hundertwassers.JPG


Then 2 days later Emily gave me two skeins of D T Crafts 100% cashmere at my Aussie citizenship dinner.  Not sure whether to knit it, or just take it to bed.

D J Craft Cashmere.JPG

Now I just need to wind the skeins into balls (using the swift that David gave me for my birthday last year) and I’m off and knitting.

But of course that didn’t get David off the hook in the present-giving department, so he brought me a very large bottle of Miss Dior Diorrissimo, my favourite perfume.  It was good to have him back!


Posts Revisited

11 June 2008

A bit of an update.

Firstly, you may remember the Aboriginal teenagers from Yuendumu, who were evicted from their hotel in Alice Springs where they’d gone to do their life-saving certificates.  Apparently there was a tremendous amount of public goodwill to them, which resulted in their being brought to Sydney last week to complete their training, receive their medals and just have a bit of a fun time.  An action is being taken against the hotel under the Northern Territory’s racial discrimination laws, but I don’t know how far that’s got.   

And no update could be complete without my usual foray into the shenanigans of World Youth Day.  The clock is ticking (well, the RTA still has its countdown on road signs all over the city).  And ads. have started to appear.  But where on earth (or in heaven?) did they get their copywriters?  “Have The Time Of Your Eternal Life” is plastered all over the sides of our buses, and City Rail’s travel notices refer to it as this “Moving Experience”.   I find it all a bit stomach-churning.

But there is GOOD NEWS.  Percy Walton was to be executed by the State of Virginia on 10th June, after 11 years on death row. About 4 hours before his execution, the Governor commuted his sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds of his mental incapacity.  He has an IQ of 66, suffers from schizophrenia and had no understanding of what was about to happen to him.  Why it took so long to come to this decision only the Governor of Virginia knows, I would imagine, but THANK YOU Governor Kaine.  Better late than never. 

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The State of the Union

8 June 2008

You all know I have a few obsessions.   (If you’re in any doubt, see any of my posts about World Youth Day! – And my husband thinks I’m obsessed with knitting)

Another of my ‘obsessions’ is the penal justice system and particularly the death penalty.  This one goes back a very long way.  It was I think 1964 when I sat in the Visitors Gallery in the House of Lords to see the abolition of the death penalty in Britain.  I was too young to be in there but dressed myself up and passed muster.

In 1979 I became a volunteer with the Probation Service visiting life prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs prison in London.  All those I visited over the years were convicted murderers.

And I’ve sent my fair share of emails, letters and faxes to Governments round the world to try to stop executions taking place.  When George W was Governor of Texas, I think I knew his fax number by heart.

You may have heard that America had a moratorium on executions for a while as the Supreme Court was deciding whether killing people by lethal injection was cruel, painful and inhumane.  They decided it was just dandy, so now the executions have begun again in earnest. 

On 10th June, Percy Walton will be executed in Virginia and on 17th June, Charles Hood will suffer the same fate in Texas.  Percy Walton has been on death row for 11 years and Charles Hood for 18.  Both have severe mental disabilities.

Only China, Iran and Saudi Arabia execute more people than the USA.  128 countries around the world no longer execute ANYONE. Until about 4 years ago, America executed murderers who had committed their crimes while minors, which put them in very unsavoury company (Yemen for one). 

And does this mass slaughter help the people of the USA one iota?  All studies show that it doesn’t make a jot of difference to the murder rates.  In fact, American States that don’t have the death penalty have no more (and sometimes fewer) murders.  It just dehumanises the people we ask to do this in our name, and there is a very great risk that innocent people are being put to death.  In the last few years 120 people on death row have been exonerated.  That’s a lot of people we could have killed “by mistake”. 

Can the people of America sleep more soundly in their beds at night as a result of these executions?  Or as a result of another fact I turned up recently – that with 5% of the world’s population, the USA has 25% of the world’s prisoners.  Apparently neither executions nor mass imprisonment has slowed down their crime rates.  Isn’t it about time they (and the rest of the world for that matter) looked again at their policies?   

I would ask you to go to the NCADP website for the facts and figures on executions in the United States, and contact details if you’d like to object to these latest executions.  

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Marital Bliss

5 June 2008

No blog posts for a while as my internet service providers, who shall remain nameless (but how about we refer to them as iPrimus just for clarity’s sake?) messed up our connection and swore blind it had nothing to do with them.  Must be the modem, which was only 4 months old, so we got a new one, under guarantee.  Still didn’t work.  So back to iPrimus.  They had no idea why we couldn’t get a connection but would give us ‘top priority’, refer the matter up the chain of experts and get back to us.  Lo and behold, 3 hours later, we had access! 

After 4 days of testing modems, hanging onto phone lines for hours at a time, scrambling around on the floor swapping cables, testing all equipment at a neighbour’s house and driving 20 minutes each way to swap over the modem.   I think they probably just flicked a switch somewhere.

This sort of modern catastrophe does nothing for marital relationships.  David has better things to do and was just getting incredibly frustrated and angry.  He’s not really a moody man but was starting to get really tetchy. 

However, I read a nice story today about marital bliss, written by a couple in England who are just celebrating their 80th Wedding Anniversary.  David and I have only been married 6 years but I don’t fancy our chances of survival if this couple’s advice is to be relied on.  According to them, the secrets to a happy marriage are “a little kiss before bed, trips to bingo and good plain English food”! 

What hope have we got?