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.

hsnwalk

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

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.

KAN!

Yes, I’m off to KAN (Knit August Nights) on Friday – can’t wait! I’m frantically knitting up squares for one workshop, getting a WIP off the needles so I can put another one on them (Koolhaas Hat by Jared Flood), making sure my needles and hooks are all in their cases, scissors and what-not are at the ready. Oh yeah – better pack some clothes and stuff I guess.

Oh wait! Photos of the stash-busting blankets. Must remember to do that. Even better, finish the handspun blanket. Jeebus, I can’t believe I’ve crocheted an entire blanket in HANDSPUN FIBRE! It’s been a wonderful winter project though. Maybe just a few more rows to use up those last balls… mind you, it hasn’t made a huge dent in my fibre stash. I foresee a whole lot of overdyeing being done in Spring/Summer. There’s no way I want to wear natural mid-tan alpaca (two fleeces), but it’ll look amazing as a base for orange, red, blue, green. Then there’s that milky-tea show fleece (omg, such a fine micron) which I’m going to have to consult with fibre pals at length about. The horror if I ruin it!

Then there’s a fine Gotland fleece in for washing and carding at the moment. I’m going to experiment with that. I foresee something utilizing the natural shine of that fibre, but in DK weight, loosely knitted so the garment has some drape. There will be much to discuss at KAN… and beyond!

Carding, Crochet and Cooking Clay

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Chez Westie, as I work my way through a bunch of crafty projects that have been languishing unstarted for… um… some months. Well, you know how it is – there’s always something else demanding your attention that takes you away from other things demanding your attention.

Anyhoo…

Last weekend was spent washing a lovely, fine Romney fleece that I got over a year ago. It’s been sitting nice and greasy in a bag, minding its own business while I periodically fretted over whether or not to wash it myself or send it off to the pros. All for fear that I’d felt it by just showing it hot water. In a fit of STOP PROCRASTINATING FFS!!!, I got out my brand new laundry bags (also purchased over a year ago for just this purpose) and filled them with greasy, finely crimped locks. It only took 3 hot soaks in Martha Gardener Wool Mix and 2 cold rinses, and I had me a squeaky clean fleece.

Next challenge was using my drum carder for the first time. I’d never actually used a drum carder before, so after I rolled some really nasty batts, I figured I was doing something wrong. YouTube to the rescue. Turns out that the small roller was turning in the same direction as the large roller, presumably because the pulley cord is a fibre cord and has insufficient grip. It was put on by the previous owner and was clearly a No.8 wire job. I’ve since ordered a replacement pulley band. In the interim I’ve helped things along by manually providing the necessary traction to turn the small roller in the opposite direction.

That was one hurdle, but I was still getting lumpy batts. Back to YouTube for another look at those clips. Solution: put the batt through again (and again if necessary) to get a well-combed batt. I am SO looking forward to spinning this floofy loveliness!

While those freshly washed locks were out in the sunshine drying, I tackled some polymer clay. These are just fun experiments with leftover clay to get me enthused… I have a larger plan in mind.

In between cooking clay and my first foray into prepping raw fleece to spin, I’ve been destashing my beautiful collection of hand-painted fibre, mostly from Southern Cross Fibre (David’s stuff is so good he’s always sold out, so you need to join his fibre club, or sign up for shop updates – and be a speedyfinger!). As there’s only so many scarves, hats, etc that I want to make, what better way to preserve these beautiful fibres than in a snuggly blankie? Once blocked, it’ll be wide enough to cover my queen-size bed.

Let’s look at that fibre a little closer (and there’s still heaps more to be spun and included).

I’ve also been learning new songs on the guitar, experimenting with minor chords (ye gods, a song may actually get written!), and stepping perilously close to COUNTRY MUSIC! Gah! Ok, so I’m drawing the line there and going as close as alt-country/blues, but I thoroughly enjoyed going to see Ryan Adams on Thursday, opened for by the equally talented Jason Isbell, whose latest album (Here We Rest) I have since purchased. I may love-love-love hard rock and heavy metal, but it doesn’t mean I completely exclude other genres. Being musically well-rounded is a good thing, although that can dent my credit card pretty deeply sometimes – there’s just so much great music out there!

And for my birthday…

…I got this! It was a present to myself. It’s a Takamine D51SN – solid spruce top, mahogany sides, rosewood neck, at least 5 years old, so it’s really got its tone on. And boy, it can kick out some volume. This is my first steel string acoustic guitar and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

My Epiphone is feeling a little neglected, but it’s not being completely ignored. Have I said lately how much I’m loving learning guitar? Well, I am. It’s also causing a general reinvigoration of my musical education, such as it is, insofar as I’ve been contemplating getting another piano – acoustic, not digital though. But NO! There is no. more. room. I must be sensible. Yes.

Finding new music

My guitar tutor has put me onto this chap – Ryan Adams. Different to what I normally listen to, but this is usually how I come across music that I end up loving. Adams’ sound is a blend of rock/country/folk/blues, he’s got a great voice and is really prolific in his album releases. I’m now thinking of going to see him play at the Civic on 8 March. This video is off his latest album (Ashes & Fire) which he’s currently touring behind. I’ve just bought it on iTunes and I think Gold is about to follow suit. Take a listen…

Purl Bee Penguin

OMG, are these cute or what?! Well of course they are. Who doesn’t love penguins? It’s like saying baby polar bears are fugly. Pfft. If I can inch past the knitting and the spinning and the buggered shoulder from said knitting and spinning, then I’m going to make some. My fabric stash is massive and increasing. I try not to think too much about the fact that it’s not lovely cotton print quilting material, but is in fact interiors swatches (albeit gorgeous Mokum Fabrics interiors swatches) liberated from their swatchbooks. I’m going to need a gruntier sewing machine than the plastic pipsqueak currently in residence…

Instructions for making them are at Purl Bee, and be prepared to get lost in this wonderful site as you see more and more lovely things to make. There’s just.so.much!

Incidentally, I haven’t been idle these past weeks. I’ve been destashing the fibre stash and have now spun up 4 lots of Southern Cross Fibre Club Fibre from aaages ago. I’ve also not neglected the Cultivated Vines sweater – the back is done and I’m a third through the front. Are there mistakes? Of course. Will it fit? I have no idea. Do I care? Not a whit. Well, not yet anyway.

Foo Fighters – Western Springs

What a great night! The Foo Fighters rocked Western Springs last night and I was right up the front in the mosh (something I’ve never braved before) catching all the action. It hosed down for the opening acts – Cairo Knife Fight (which we missed), Fucked Up (which we caught most of), the hilarious Tenacious D, and then the Foos for nearly 3 hours of good ol’ rock n roll. Dave is the ultimate front man, chatting, cracking jokes and telling us how awesome we were (you can tell us that all you like, Dave), even promising to come back and do the Auckland Town Hall again. Wonder who I’d have to kill to get a ticket to that event…

I managed to get my camera on the wrong setting for photos (typical) but captured some pretty good video which I’ll spend the weekend cobbling together. I didn’t think I’d manage nearly 5 hours rocking out in the mosh, but did it and came away standing, unscathed, a little muddy, damp and hoarse, but otherwise stoked at having such a great night. Nothing beats a live act – especially premo stadium rock by one of the absolute best bands on the planet!

Set List:

  • All My Life
  • Rope
  • The Pretender
  • My Hero
  • Learn to Fly
  • White Limo
  • Arlandria
  • Breakout
  • Cold Day in the Sun
  • Long Road to Ruin
  • Stacked Actors
  • Walk
  • Monkey Wrench
  • Let It Die
  • These Days
  • This is a Call
  • In the Flesh? (Pink Floyd cover)
  • Best of You

Encore:

  • Wheels (Acoustic – Dave solo)
  • Times Like These (started acoustic, then full band)
  • Generator
  • Tie Your Mother Down (Queen cover)
  • Everlong