The Weekly Wrap | 28-Aug-2016

So this week I… experienced the effects of cartwheeling fences, faced up to my newest addiction, and expanded my birdcage.

This week we’ve had completely shit weather, including gale force winds. My thousand year old fence has withstood many a gale, including this latest buffeting. What it couldn’t withstand though, was an entire section of one of my neighbour’s fence cartwheeling through it. Yep, that pretty much put paid to it. I was awakened early Saturday morning to the sound of my 96 year old neighbour (not the one with the cartwheeling fence) PROPPING MY DOWNED FENCE BACK UP! This gentleman is downright awesome. Also, apparently immortal. When I bought my place 13 years ago, he was 83 and had cancer. He’s still here. Over the years he has watched out for me in all manner of ways – from digging up ivy roots to chopping stray wisteria, waving hello and generally being a great neighbour. This latest gale-induced incident saw us in the driveway chatting about the damage. I think because I had a strapping young fellow with me, who is going to repair the damage, dear old George was eager to tell us his life story. His father brought him to New Zealand from Croatia in the 1930s (he still has his accent). He’s spent most of his working life working in the Deli community – orchards, trades and such – met and married his wife (now 90) and raised a family. Every week he walks to the shops to do a little grocery shopping for her. She cooks, he putters in their garden. It’s an ordinary life, but with so much extraordinary in it – good people, committed partners, and many tales to tell, I’m sure. I’m pretty lucky to know them, even a little.

From good neighbours to good obsessions… Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone from playing Pokemon Go to playing PoGo’s smarter, older, more interesting big sister – Ingress. I’ve never been much of a gamer, but this one has me hooked. Like PoGo, but to an even greater extent, you have to get off your butt and go play the game in real life. It’s also highly strategic, team play becomes essential, you’re competing against enthusiastic players of the opposite ‘faction’ in NZ, plus thousands of players globally. It is way, WAY more interesting than Pokemon Go. Way more. I’ve met new people in my faction (Enlightened – we’re the best, yes we are), gone out to dinner and the movies with them, jumped into cars in the dark, walked around downtown Auckland with total strangers, and even gone out BY MYSELF!

This is a really big thing for me. Until I got into Ingress, I had no idea how small my world had shrunk. I couldn’t even go to my mailbox after dark without feeling some trepidation. Yes, that might seem ridiculous, but fear of the unknown (or what might happen) had slowly chipped away at my confidence, until I didn’t feel safe unless I was at work or home. Going outside the pattern of my daily commute induced a not-insignificant amount of anxiety, even just around town. Not that I felt trapped, but the awareness of losing something important was hovering, and more often. In just a few weeks, I’m now boldly meeting new people, going into town and walking around, and more recently, I’m testing myself by going to places alone to play the game – I never knew there were so many parks and reserves around Auckland! So. Many.


This weekend I went to Henderson Creek Park and wandered all over it. By my lonesome, capturing and hacking portals, taking photos of the creek and generally marvelling at the fact that not only did I never even know it was there (wtf!), but I wasn’t worried about being there alone, doing my own thing. There were loads of people around, kids playing at one of the several playgrounds, people biking the paths and trails, people wandering around and chatting. You know, normal people, normal life. It was fantastic. So a big thankyou to my gamer pals – my birdcage has been expanded and I’m breathing better for it.

The Weekly Wrap | 29-Jul-2016

So this week I… discovered I’m not gonna die (just yet, anyway), devised cunning plans that will never eventuate, leveled up in Pokemon Go and despaired for America.

As I anxiously awaited the results of last week’s Holter cardiac monitor, I became less anxious as the days rolled by and nothing happened. Just as I had firmly convinced myself it was all in my head, the results came back. It’s all in my head. Long story short – the ol’ ticker is perfectly fine and the flutters are probably because the body is getting old and decrepit. Not that my trusty medical professionals said that, of course, but I can read between the lines like nobody’s business. Fun times and more to look forward to! Oh yay. Can’t hardly wait.

This week I’ve hatched approximately eleventy billion plans to reorganise my craft room. If just one of those would actually happen, I’d be happy. Sadly, every time I go in there, I start petting yarn, fondling fibre, and wandering back and forth to the bookshelf and Ravelry for patterns… and what if I doubled the laceweight to get fingering, and would that work on the rigid heddle, and how do I get DK from laceweight, or should I double the fingering instead, and what’s the difference really between fingering and sportweight and does it really matter. Or maybe I could spin skinny singles and do 3-ply for DK, but should I spin S or Z for crochet or knitting, and should I spin for a project or just go for it. And I want to spin small quantities for a many colours project so should I spin that mountain of white Polwarth and dye the yarn, or should I get coloured fibre first (because I’m no dyeing expert), and how the hell am I going to plan a colour swatch for that project and…

So the craft room is still a heaving mess.

I made it to Level 5 in Pokemon Go! Oh the achievement! I can now visit Poke Gyms! Not that I know what to do once I’m there, but apparently there are strategies and stuff. Erm… So I’m genning up on what to do with the menagerie I’ve captured. Apparently I can give an excess of Zubats and Rattatas (or whatever) to The Professor for candy. If that sounds creepy and cruel, it is. I think. Am not going to think too deeply on that. It’s a frickin game after all! *cough*

And finally… America, you’re fucked. That is all.

And that was me this week! You are now thus informed. Go forth and enjoy whatever you’re enjoying! I’m going to my craft room.

The Weekly Wrap | 22-Jul-2016

So this week I… got my boobs squished and scanned, became better informed on boob scanning, marveled at the effects of Berocca and asparagus, realised I will never master Continental knitting, endured a Holter monitor, and discovered the carnal thrills of Twinkies and Pop Tarts.

It’s the middle of winter and I’m sure a cold virus is itching to pounce. To stave it off, I started downing a Berocca a day. Not that I believe it’s a magic pill, but it does no harm, provides a vitamin boost and tastes nice. Like asparagus, however, it colours your waters quite luridly. Happily, without the whiffy after-effects of those tasty, crunchy, green spears of goodness… mmm, hungry.

After dithering over endless Craftsy ads for Continental knitting classes, and watching the same promo videos over and over and over again, I finally said no. I calculated that the time it would take me to become proficient enough in this method to knit 1.4 times faster, versus the knitting years I have left to live… well, life’s too short for that shit. I shall carry on English-style, and be happy that hobby knitting is all about the journey, not how fast you roar into the station.

The Sisterhood belatedly celebrated the 4th of July. Had to be done, because one of the Sisters is American, knows where the American food store is, and more importantly, knows exactly what American junk food is needed for such a celebration. Twinkies and Pop Tarts! OMG, squee!! So frickin good. Kiwi-fied American hotdogs were also whipped up (damn, they were good), as was a pizza – but not that weird-looking giant cardboard stuff ‘Muricans eat on TV and call pizza. Nah, mate. Got it from New World.

Continuing in pursuit of a diagnosis for the chest-hammering of last week, I wore a Holter cardiac monitor for 24 hours. So far, this has resulted in blisters and permanent adhesive residue. Those monitor lead pads are itchy and scratchy (hence, blisters) and the adhesive takes forever to come off. The data collected will apparently be shared next week. Good thing I’m not in a hurry. Yeah. On the bright side, am still not dead.

Squished boobs and pap smears. Oh yeah, I am woman, hear me roar, alright. Bloody hell. This was my second breast screen. As I stood there, pinned by the tit to a cold, whirring machine, I idly wondered whether it was more painful for big boobs or little ones, would they find anything, and what about the cumulative radiation effects? So I decided to find out a bit more.

While digital mammography (what’s used in NZ) uses a lower dose of radiation than film-based mammography, it’s still radiation going into your body. The long-term effects of that (and other harms) are controversial, and have been for many years. So, eschewing Facebook and David Wanker Wolfe for Google, I searched for “how effective is breast screening” and clicked on some likely prospects. First I read an article on breast screening in the NZ Medical Journal. Then looked at the National Screening Unit page on Why should I be screened? and also their position statement on the benefits vs harms of breast screening. It was all very interesting. That’s cheerfully inconclusive, isn’t it.

The bottom line seems to be that although breast screening is far from perfect, and the risks are real – within a population, the benefits outweigh the risks. That basically means X out of Y women will get breast cancer and/or be harmed by screening, and you don’t want to be on the X side of the equation.

As with anything where you are not an expert, avoid becoming polarised by opinions, and don’t lose your mind all over the internet. That just makes you a tinfoil-hat-wearing alarmist. And a dick. Don’t be a dick. Become better informed, keep your paranoia in check, and mind your manners while you do your research.

I feel informed. Do you feel informed? If not, go get some new knowledge and feel better about your awesomeness.

The Weekly Wrap

So this week I… thought I was gonna die (and wisely chose to panic about the vacuuming not being done instead), started knitting a pair of socks for a friend (that’s a first), was supported and encouraged by my GM to do something new and scaryfun (so nice!), got my butt kicked by my dentist for 30 minutes straight (damn teeth), and realised I was working with the father of the guitarist in a band I like (small, small world).

The dying thing was random and alarming chest flutters – accompanied by nothing else, so no-one freak out just yet. Because my priorities are so sorted, instead of doing something sensible, like seeking medical attention, I dithered and obsessed over the how the vacuuming wasn’t done, nor was the ironing, and I should really get up and do the dishes. I’ve since seen the good doctor who found nothing dire and have been referred to a cardiologist, just to be sure, to be sure. Frankly, I think it’s delayed stress after the last two hellish years. I did not know there was such a thing. Apparently there is.

I hope the socks fit. Will find out shortly.

My GM surprised me in the best way by encouraging me to write a business case (gasp!) for a pricey new system I want implemented. I have to convince the top managers it’s a Very Good Thing and they should give me the ok. Also, money. This is not something I’ve done before, having always left it to others of the manage-y type to do it. So now it’s my turn to step up and give it my best shot. Tackling new challenges in life, no matter where they arise, is a good thing. Also, character-building. Or something. Anyhoo, I’m going to wordsmith away and not make jokes, because that probably wouldn’t go down well…

Because of the ‘delayed stress’ thing (am going with that until advised otherwise, btw), bits are falling off. Namely, my teeth. Why is it that the tiniest hole feels like it’s big enough to swallow your head? This was not a tiny hole though. Apparently it was very large, and my dentist was most disappointed in me, because I should have got it dealt with 18 months ago. It doesn’t help that I have a black belt in procrastination. Anyway, a master multi-tasker, he spent the entire 30 minutes of drilling, hammering and banging, whilst lecturing me on my dental hygiene. Don’t get me wrong – he’s a great guy with a wonderful sense of humour, so I listened. Um… I just have to execute my good intentions…

And in a surprise twist, I was webconferencing with a supplier onto his screen and saw a folder with the name of a band I like very much (no, I’m not going to say who). So I said, “Oh, you like so-and-so, too!” To which he replied, “Oh, that’s my son’s band.” Had to bite. my. tongue to prevent fangirling. But I did find out where the band is currently at. So there’s that.

And there you have it. Do you feel informed as to my goings-on? I do.

Drivetime in Dorkland

Dear Auckland Driver

I see you there alongside me, neck and neck, window to window. Oh, is that your indicator? You want to change into my lane? Like, right now? And how would you like to accomplish that, good sir? Your choices seem to be:

a) smash side-on into me
b) I slam on my brakes for your convenience, or
c) I disappear in a puff of smoke – also for your convenience.

How about d) Sod off Noddy? D seems pretty damn good for me YOU FECKING GOBSHITE!

Ahem *resettles feathers*

Yes, certainly you can edge perilously closer and closer, but I’m not going anywhere. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Why? Because it’s frightfully bad manners to shove people out of your way, that’s why. Also, dangerous. I suggest you learn the do’s and don’ts of motorway lane changing. Also, don’t be a toad – share the road. (That could be a t-shirt, that could)


Aaaand, I’m back

It would seem I’ve not blogged in a couple of years. Years! Not that I haven’t been doing things, because I have. I just lost my blog-voice for a while. Still not sure if I want it back or not.

I started blogging back in 2006, and although life has moved on a lot since then, I can’t quite bring myself to delete those early posts with their craptastic writing and even worse photos. Not that much has changed there. Blame it on the sentimentality of nostalgia, but every now and then I’ll go right back and fondly remember my first attempt at spinning, or that crazy year of heavy metal, tattoos and stadium rock concerts (none of which I regret). Even before I started blogging on my own domain, I was an early adopter on Blogger and made a lot of blogpals under the name of Wired JAFA, wherein I regularly vented my spleen about Auckland traffic (still venting) and the tragi-comedy of having to deal with stupid people (oh so stupid). Blogging was new, fun, exciting and you made real friends, some IRL!

In the last 2 years, I’ve traveled to Turkey, poked my nose outside of Auckland (briefly), seen my nieces and nephews grow like weeds, spent far too much money on my hobbies (I so freakin don’t care), survived putting together Creative Fibre’s National Festival, changed my hair colour numerous times (still going), made lovely new friends, and even though the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, my nearest and dearest are still here.

I may stick around and blog about stuff. Or not. It may be inconsequential fluff, or serious stuff from the heart. What I know is that, once again I feel the urge to write. Quality TBA.

Crochet Mitred Square Throw


This throw was a serious exercise in destashing. I really wanted to get rid of my over-abundance of reds and purples. The natural white background contrast is handspun RomneyX. I should really never attempt to do my own carding – the result is always less than spectacular, but the finished yarn is good enough for a throw. This project took me two winters to complete, mainly because I’d lose interest for so long that I kept forgetting how to do crochet mitred squares. Then I’d lose the printed instructions. Then I’d lose the link to the website with said instructions. Hopeless, I know. But all things can be overcome with some committed Googling!

Finally all the squares were done. And yes, it took several more weeks to decide on how to arrange them – from ‘arty diamonds’ (oh so wrong), to random rows (hideous), and finally to just joining four points to make large squares. Even joining the squares took a couple of attempts – using double crochet (sc for the Americans) resulted in too bulky a seam, so I took it down to slip stitch. I came across a post at the gorgeous Once Upon a Pink Moon for a bobble edge and that has really put a fun finishing edge on the whole thing. It’s turned out to be a rather sturdy, snuggly, comfy throw and I’m really happy with it. Now I’m waiting just a little bit impatiently for cool weather…

If you’d like the pattern for crochet mitred squares, drop me a comment and I’ll have a hunt for them. They’re around here somewhere…

Dreambird Shawl


This summer I began working on the Dreambird Shawl. If you’re going to tackle this pattern, I would strongly suggest you work off the row-by-row instructions. Up to the now-infamous Row 28, the long-form instructions are reasonably easy to follow, but after that it all goes pear-shaped as the designer tries to be extremely helpful, and ends up confusing most of those who have stumbled over this row’s instructions. Switch to the row-by-row instructions.

I made a small change on rows 15 and 16 too, to ensure the background yarn wrapped right around the tip of the feather:
Row 15: k 44
Row 16: k2 p 42

Other than that, it’s a really interesting and beautiful pattern. I’ve only got a few more feathers to work (or I’ll run out of yarn!) and then will knit a couple of rows of garter along the neck edge (not included in the pattern) to tidy it up. Seems like that’s what quite a few others have done.

Color Affection Shawl


This is the Color Affection shawl, designed by Veera Välimäki. It’s a marvel of stripes and short rows and was a fairly easy knit. I was kind of horrified upon completion though, because the neck edge of all those striped rows was so puckered, despite my best efforts to leave lots of slack when bringing in the row yarns. However, wet blocking worked its miracles again – it’s knitting alchemy! After a good soak in a bit of wool wash, I laid it out flat and lightly pinned it in place. In the process, all the puckering magically disappeared, resulting in a perfectly flat crescent shawl that looks great. Can’t wait to wear it come winter.

Les Sillons Shawl

I purchased this pretty and unusual shawl pattern on Ravelry, but quickly became disenchanted with it. Mainly because there was a lack of instruction concerning stitch counts at the end of each section, so you had to make a guess as to when to end your short rows. No matter how hard I tried, the beginning of each new section never seemed to match up to what I had from the previous section. In the end I decided it didn’t matter, because in the process of much knit-frog-knit, I’d mastered the principles of short rows. So much so that I extended some sections, shortened others, and added extra. The end result is a shawl that drapes beautifully, is super-light, and hasn’t even been blocked yet. Probably won’t block it though, as it’d be rather large!